There’s one word that holds the key to reopening equestrian business post Covid-19, says ETN editor Liz Benwell.

A whole new vocabulary has been spawned by coronavirus. If you’d talked about ‘self-isolating’ and ‘social distancing’ this time last year, people would think you were talking about hermits with body odour…

A big buzz word in our trade is ‘essential’ – and what is and what isn’t. Misunderstanding of ‘essential’ in this context has caused some businesses to believe they can’t sell or trade, when in fact they can. 

I’d like to throw a new word into the mix. Confidence. It’s going to take tons of it to get the equestrian industry truly going again. 

People will need financial confidence to buy a new horse and kit it out. They’ll need to feel confident about riding and competing without being seen to burden the NHS. They’ll have to feel confident about mixing other others they don’t know at shows, events and race meetings. 

Firms that closed to protect staff and overheads must find the confidence to re-open. Companies that asked employees to work from home, or furloughed them, need confidence to make decisions about taking them back in house – or keeping them on at all. 

Fortunately, the equestrian industry and wider horse world is packed with intrinsically confident, resilient people. But the next few weeks and months are set to test that to the limit. 

Confident guidance from Government will be essential if we are to kick on.

Heroes of our time

Shop assistants, once considered holders of ‘ordinary’ jobs, have become the heroes of our time. Let’s hope consumers remember who stayed open – often at personal risk - to serve them during these turbulent times. 

Thoughts of an angry shopper

Never has internet shopping been so popular and so much appreciated. 

The weak link in the chain can be physically getting the goods to customers’ addresses. And couriers are horribly over-stretched just now, as equestrian online retailers told ETN last week. 

On the whole, shoppers are understanding of the situation. Maybe when they do get impatient it’s because, when you’re stuck at home, the arrival of a parcel from the outside world is rather exciting. 

I ordered an item from an internet retailer on 31 March. They took my money on 1 April. The goods finally arrived on Friday, 17 April. OK, there was Easter in the way, and we all have to make allowances right now…

Even two weeks’ wait would have been tolerable, but for one thing. Apart from a confirmation email when I ordered, I’d heard absolutely nothing from the store and became convinced I’d lost £80 to a scam.

Just as I was looking up the home addresses of the directors on the Companies House website, an email popped up from the miscreant retailer offering me 10% off my next order. You must be joking…

OK, the delay was probably more down to overloaded couriers than an inefficient retailer – but my contract as a consumer was with the latter. 

If only they’d bothered to send a couple of ‘we’re sorry’ and ‘unprecedented times’ type emails, I might buy from them again. Now – no way.

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