This edition is dedicated to the hard working, often under-appreciated/acknowledged individuals in the equine industry that we should all take time to thank. Because, admit it, without them, we'd be lost!
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 8 important people/groups within my horse world that I am very thankful for:
Having a reliable, down to earth veterinarian who knows what they're talking about is invaluable and a blessing in itself. If there's an emergency or a horse is hurt, I can always rely on her to tell us all aspects of the situation and what we should be prepared for in the worst case scenario. We've been through both good and tough experiences together, including but not limited to: giving instructions over the phone during an ice storm on how to manage a mare severely colicking, performing an emergency c-section in our barn to save a foal, and making important breeding decisions for our broodmares. She's truly a blessing, and I really don't know what I'd do without her.
Unless you're living under a rock somewhere, I'm sure you've heard the saying, 'no foot, no horse.' It's true. Without a good foundation, you pretty much have nothing to stand on. Keeping that foundation in the best shape possible requires having an experienced, knowledgeable farrier. These too, are hard to come by. Farriers devote their day to back breaking work - cleaning, trimming, shoeing each of our horses' feet, just so that we can enjoy a nice ride now and then. Our farrier always does a great job. He evaluate's each horse's feet and what may or may not need to be done, and is extremely patient with some of our younger steeds that just don't understand what is going on.
Without these folks, our horses would go hungry. (Well, maybe not those horses on lush summer pasture, but you get my drift.) You want to provide the best nutrition possible to your horse, right? These people play a key role in that process. In our case, our horses' grain is mixed and purchased through our local feed mill. Our hay comes from a few very reliable sources, all of which provide us with high quality forage for our horses. These individuals are always striving to provide a quality product that meets our animals' nutritional needs.
Where do you go when your stirrup leather breaks? Or what if your horse decides to rub his rump on his feed bucket, cracking it in half? Most people go to the nearest tack and supply store (or order something online). Without the fine folks that own and work in these stores, finding the products we need would be a little more difficult. Especially any specialized products sometimes found in local, non-chain tack stores!
You know that vaccine that you just gave your horse to hopefully prevent him from getting Influenza? Or the formulated joint supplement that your older gelding gets daily to make sure arthritis doesn't take over? Somewhere, a guy (or gal) in a lab helped develop those so that your horse could live a longer, healthier life. And let's not forget the professionals working at universities and research centers, striving not only to develop better health care measures for your horse, but also teaching us how to implement those measures.
6. Breed/Discipline Organization Staff
Is your horse registered? Do you compete or participate in events? Chances are, at some level, you belong or participate in a breed or discipline organization. The people that help keep these organizations running often get a bad rap. After all, they're the ones set and enforce the rules, influence industry standards, often end up hearing all of the complaints when someone isn't satisfied. To those individuals in the offices that help keep track of the horse's records, answer phone calls regarding questions and complaints, and keep the organization going behind the scenes so that we can be involved with our horses - thank you!
It takes a lot of people to organize, coordinate and run a horse show, and the work begins long before the first class goes in the ring. From the show manager who keeps things running smoothly and office staff keeping records of entries and awards, to the announcer and volunteers that keep horses and riders flowing in and out of the show ring, a great horse show staff/group plays a HUGE role in the success of the show. Without them, there is no organized competition.
Last, but not least, we all need to thank our circle of horsey friends. After all, they are the ones that keep us going even when our horse is being a royal pain in the hind end. They are the few people that can (and will) willingly have a conversation about fecal egg counts, share pictures of their accident-prone horse's latest bloody injury, and come help chase down a loose horse on a dark, rainy night. They're part of the reason we're in the horse industry!