An unprecedented event has struck the world...a national health pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen. It has brought our economy to a screeching halt, and the horse show industry as well, at every level. Events are no longer permitted. Gathering in groups larger than ten - not permitted. Restaurants, bars, churches are closed by government order. We are told to "shelter in place". It is as though a bomb has gone off...and we are to take cover and isolate ourselves.
For the first time ever, no horse shows...it was with disbelief that we initially wondered can we have the show? Is it safe for our staff and exhibitors, many of whom travel long distances to do so? Surely it might be okay, but quickly a ban was put in place and then extended. Right now we hover in limbo, wondering...what will our landscape look like after this is over. There are no answers, definitive timelines, but there is one certainty...we have strength.
It is this time that we as equestrians have come together as a community, just like the rest of the country has responded, which is what Americans do in a time of crisis. Where physical or financial support may not be possible, emotional support has been seen in abundance.
We as a country, and certainly as equestrian participants, are a tough group. We are strong. We are creative and a hardy bunch. The sport demands it. We will get through this and come out the other side, perhaps a bit worse for the experience, but we are survivors.
Certainly, prayers are needed for us all as a country and as individuals. That goes without saying, but if you can offer it, lend a hand (at a socially acceptable distance), give a kind word. This is the time to let people know they are seen and appreciated. This is a time that will be retold in history...pick the role that you will play...what ripple will you cast into the pond of humanity?
Peace and Prayers for us all,
2017 is going to be a great year!
Do you ever feel it deep inside? We have that feeling. There are lots of good, no, really great things happening. We hope it is the same for you, your barn, your business, your family. Sure there are bumps. There will always be bumps, that's what makes the ride more exciting, right?
There is an abundance of growth and change. The Horse Show Ventures team members are undertaking new adventures and challenges that are not only pretty cool personal events, but we believe it is the stuff that will enrich their lives and by ripple effect all of ours as well.
Personally, I have transitioned from my full time role as a Development Director for a nonprofit agency and revived my personal marketing business, and it is doing well. This is an exciting personal change that affords me more flexibility of time, less emotional drain, and overall improved creative energy and expansion. Good stuff.
Our founding team member and course designer, Chelsea Sundius, has a new baby boy (which means my first grand child!), and is she engaged to her love and partner, John Roche. Their business, JR Show Stables, is thriving, and that success brings an enhanced perspective and scope to Horse Show Ventures - we are blessed by association to benefit from their knowledge and expertise.
While Chelsea's schedule doesn't allow her to be at the shows phsyically, she is always present in spirit. She works closely with younger sister and mentee, Regan, on all the courses. Chelsea has course designed for us even when her business has taken her on international travels. My favorite story is when she stood with her computer outside of a pub in Ireland to get a wifi signal in order to send in the courses. There is always a call from Chelsea at some point during each show asking how it is going, how everyone is doing, and requesting pictures of the rings and the trips. We are blessed that she remains devoted to Horse Show Ventures' success.
Kelly Boltz will graduate this year from UGA and has just completed a bucket list trip to Australia and New Zealand. Kelly is our ray of sunshine in the office and a multi-talented team member that has been with us for 9 years. She is my adopted, "fifth daughter". Look for exciting things in Kelly's future. We are blessed to have her, and we hope that she continues to keep a space in her busy schedule to work the shows and help to make them better year after year.
Congratulations to Regan Sundius on her acceptance to UGA where she will complete her education and get her degree in Advertising. Regan grew up in the horse biz and at the shows. She grew up under an exacting older sister that has shown her the ropes in so many ways. Regan didn't get accepted to UGA on first try, and I have to believe that it is her "inner equestrian" that bolstered her perseverance. Go Reg! So excited for you and proud of your efforts and hard work. You will find Regan ever present on the show grounds. She is my right hand and my rock. She possesses calm beyond her years, a great wisdom, and an incredibly funny sense of humor. She keeps me laughing and always has a great perspective.
Horse Show Ventures continues to be blessed by great people in all of our team members. They "get" Horse Show Ventures. It's about the journey, the customer, and the space we create in this niche. Thanks to all of them, and we are so excited to welcome them back for a wonderful 2017. A couple of our graduates are moving on to real world careers, and we have openings for the right people on our team. Know anyone?
All of this is great, but none of it is possible without our trainers, riders, and sponsors. We so immensely appreciate their continued support. We welcome newcomers and those returning to the family. Horse show weekends are an intense, often hard, long push. A lot is packed into two short days (okay two and a half), but in spite of all that, we find the time and space to laugh and share life's journey with the friends and people that share our passion for equestrian sport.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Abundant Blessings to You and Yours!
Summer draws to a close and school has started again for most kids by now. As a horse show parent, or any parent of a committed athlete, it is an art and a feat of tactical scheduling to combine your child's lessons, practice time, fun time and academics. I am interested in unique formulas that you parents have used to tackle the challenge.
As a parent to four daughters, each competing in sports, not part of a middle or high school team, it was a big challenge. For my horse showing daughters, it was especially difficult, because at that time, there were not school based equestrian teams. And, frankly, the schools did not show a lot of love for kids that were equestrian competitors. Most teachers and administrators did not understand equestrian competition, or have a great deal of respect for it. If my daughter were on the football team, or say the lacrosse team.... then I think the attitudes would have been softer. I had my share of "exchanges" and negotiations with principals and teachers. Ultimately, for us, I found it best to be pro-active and reach out to the administration and teachers right from the start and notify them of the challenge that we would be facing with time away from school and the classroom, our value of education but also equestrian athletic competition, and ask for a cooperative partnership. That helped a little. There was always that one teacher that seemed resentful and uncooperative.
Attending a horse show and all that is involved (bathing, clipping, cleaning tack, packing up equipment) and arriving in time for Friday afternoon schooling, eats into the Friday school day, if the child is part of those preparations. In our family, that all fell on us- the family groom team. Many a Friday, Mom was bathing ponies and pulling manes, then hustling off to school to pick up daughter after noon (half a day at school counted as a full day).
Even with the showing time discounted, as with any student athlete, establishing day to day priorities and making time for riding, lessons, and homework requires self discipline and tactical maneuvering.
If your student athlete and family is blessed to participate in upper level competitions, the travel and show schedules and the time away from the bricks and mortar classroom is amplified. Many parents now utilize at-show class rooms and tutors (at the big, multi-week events), home-schooling, and online schools.
Each child and family situation is different, but education was set as a top priority for my kids...we had to find a way to do both and perform at a fairly proficient level. A college degree was a non-negotiable expectation for my daughters, so the high school grades and studies needed to be pointed in that direction as well. Somehow we managed it all. Kudos to the girls. They each received their degrees (the youngest is finishing up at the University of Georgia). Ultimately for the daughter that had the most strenuous riding schedule, she finished her high school degree online, as she had the opportunity to train in Mexico and Florida those last two years. She then went on to get her degree from the University of Kentucky while riding, training and competing.
What have been your creative solutions to supporting both competitive equestrian training and competition along with academic achievement? We would like to hear from you!
Our Mother's Day Celebration Horse Show is one of our favorites...especially mine. :) My fondest memories are that of being the Horse Show Mom: the groom, keeper of the grooming box, baby powder and rubbing alcohol for a seemingly endless supply of grey ponies, and the handy towel to wipe boots, ponies noses, and occasionally little girls' tears. (Three of my four daughters showed. The fourth had the good sense to compete in water sports like swimming and rowing). It is both joyful and particularly painful to be a Horse Show Mom. You are your child's greatest fan, and you feel her heartbreak and challenges right in the core of your heart. Heaven forbid you fall into the forbidden waters of "assistant coaching" from the rail and consequently suffer the hard glare of both child and trainer. Instead, to show your support... you tote the grooming box, the spurs, martingale, and offer drinks of water and a lots of hugs and encouraging words.
Our Mother's Day Celebration Show gives us a chance to do something special for the Moms (and the Dads) that tote the grooming boxes, puzzle over a class schedule, wake up at the crack of dawn and spend the day only to hurry up and wait, and after a long weekend of roller coaster emotional highs and lows...you trudge into the show office to write the big checks. Horse Show Parents are awesome...just like the sport. And we never say thank you enough. So, Mom, or Dad, pat yourself on the back. You Rock!
Morgan Taylor is the founder, owner and producer of Horse Show Ventures Hunter/Jumper horse shows in the greater Atlanta area. Three of her four daughters competed and showed growing up. For many years she and her daughters owned and operated a boarding and training facility in Milton, Georgia.