How COVID-19 is affecting our industry
Now COVID-19 is no laughing matter but what happens to the equine industry after it goes away?
With concerns over total lockdown due to multiplying numbers of diagnosed cases lots of events are being postponed and cancelled a statement from the British Horse-racing Authority (BHA) said they were stopping all racing until may at the earliest in a bid to reduce the spending of further cases. Nick Rust, the Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “Racing is a family and I know we will pull together over the coming days, weeks and months and support each other. By stopping racing, we can free up medical resources, doctors and ambulances, be they private sector or NHS, to assist in the national effort to fight this virus. And we can support racing industry participants and staff as they face up to the personal challenges ahead and care for their own families."
Which means what for us?
I guess staff will have to still go to work and keep the horses fed and looked after plus if the BHA deem it safe the horses need to be fit and ready for the track or the owners will feel the money they have invested in the training fees will be wasted, the other outcome is the pull them from training which will have a dramatic effect as once people her of this happening wether they think its a good idea or not they will follow suit! That will be a problem and directly affect the farriery industry.
For the people who don't shoe race horses how will it affect them?
Scaremongering news will damage a lot of farriers, one thing we all know is a lot of horse owners cant really afford the upkeep of their horses so any excuse to cancel the shoeing will be used.
British evening (BE) British show jumping (BSJ) and British Dressage (BD) are all following suit, now I know it sounds like I'm having a moan about the big wigs financially hurting the small business' but in all seriousness what's going to happen after there is a vaccine and we have this under control? things won't go back to normal. we have just left the European Union (EU) so business' are already under strain. The issue is we as farriers are at the bottom of the greasy pole. We administer work to a lot of clients where owning a horse is a luxury, if their salary is affected by this then they will defiantly ditch you for a cheaper farrier, leave longer between appointments and in some cases sell their horses.
It's become our responsibility to re-assure our clients that we are taking the relevant measures to ensure that we are working safely with bio-security a high priority but is that enough? Most of my clients don't seem to care and business is as usual however; I went into town to the bank today and it's dead (no pun intended) it seriously leads me to believe that this is just another test for small business'. Now I'm fortunate that I'm resilient and can deal with debt well, what about the next man though, this is the bigger picture. To mentally cope with debt and loss in revenue will change a man and this is not good for our industry, I've watched the price of shoeing pretty much come to a standstill in the last few years, I've always offered above and beyond in the way of service so I conduct a high price because i advertise myself as a premium rate farrier, there is nothing wrong with that and in fact it takes a lot of effort to maintain that, i have valuable in depth conversations with other equine professionals and get scrutinised on a weekly basis but thats the business model I choose. I could lower my prices and buy a cheap van, start smoking and swear more, generally not care for my work and not answer the phone but there are too many like that already it's a saturated market, the average cost of shoeing a horse in the UK today is £70.00 which is embarrassing when in 2010 the average was £60.00 NOW THATS JUST UNDER 15% increase, the UK's inflation has been 30% in the last 10 years, this does make me worry about what the future holds for the value of what we do.
Things we can learn from all this are: we up our game and strengthen our business, do some financial projections (it's not hard just add up what you expect to earn and what you have to pay for), think about the future financially (plan for retirement), work out what it costs you to shoe a horse and if you are making much profit. Don't let people tell you what you should charge, it's your business and if you can justify it thats your choice. If we do that we will ride it out but if you don't you will end up working for nothing if; anything at all in a years time.
COVID-19 is a global pandemic so we do need to take it seriously but when did everyone become such a snowflake! We can still go about our business without subjecting ourselves to a huge amount of risk it just means organising our days little better. so if they find a vaccine in the next few months great, we will all be cured but our banks wont be so forgiving I can tell you that much.