AMHA Addresses COVID-19 Pandemic

March 13th, 2020

To the Members of AMHA:

As the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is having a widespread global impact, my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this virus. The safety, well-being and health of each of us as well as our horses is a top priority.

Some of you have contacted AMHA with questions regarding events scheduled in the near future. While the American Morgan Horse Association seeks to advance the breed and offer exciting programs and services for all our members, most shows and events are managed independently by volunteer show committees and local organizations.

USEF has joined countless other sporting events and made the following decree:

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all USEF owned events, selection trials, training camps, clinics, and activities will be suspended for the next 30 days. Additionally, USEF strongly recommends that competition organizers suspend all USEF licensed competitions across the country for the next 30 days and that equestrians do not compete for the next 30 days. For those competitions that do run, there will be no accumulation of points, scores, money won, qualifications, or rankings toward any USEF awards programs, USEF owned event, or selection to a US team during this 30-day time period. This includes USEF National Championships.

You can view the entire USEF release on their website here, https://www.usef.org/media/press-releases/a-letter-from-president-ceo-regarding.

Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, we feel it is important for you to reach out to those individual events for guidance in the near term. All of us at AMHA will continue to monitor the situation and try to help as much as possible.

At this time, there has been no change regarding the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show®. Show officials are closely monitoring the situation and will make adjustments in the future as necessary. It is my sincere hope things will settle down long before October!

We are definitely in an unprecedented time and many of us are having a hard time navigating this uncharted territory. The internet is full of information both good and bad. One social media post stood out to me as I was reading through the countless articles and posts.

One of our members, Brett Bartley, had this very wise analogy that I feel puts this situation in a perspective I think we can all understand:

Whether you believe this is no worse than the common cold; the end of the world; or just worried for Forest Gump and his wife, it seems COVID-19 isn’t going away. Thinking about things in terms of what I know -- critters, it feels like the impact isn’t just an argument of morbidity percentage to be made by conservatives and liberals.

Anyone who cares for animals understands the impact of any fast spreading disease. If strangles hits a horse stable, all the horses don’t drop dead, but it is a risk. The lost revenue from not going to shows though and not giving riding lessons can be a huge economic impact. Likewise, the vet bills for care are an unforeseen expense for the horse owners causing more economic discomfort. Once strangles starts, no one questions isolating and taking measures not to transmit the disease. It's not the death toll, it's the price of the disruption.

I am not a cow expert, but I know there are diseases like Johne’s, BVD, and viruses that cause abortion. In the cattle business it’s probably even more easy to analyze profit and loss in terms of decreased milk production, spoilage, or even death. I know cattle folks are constantly on watch for anything to take action to mitigate financial damage and loss of herd.

So now it’s people and we want to argue the “is it that bad?” and ignore the speed of transmission and economic impacts of the spread. We are having fun talking about the sky is falling and people that are driving TP and Purell stock up. Or that the media is the sole cause for hysteria. Seems like the faster it’s nipped in the bud, the faster the economy is back on track. It also seems like our institutions may not have had their antennas up looking over the herd as vigilantly as us rural folk do over our herds.

This brings me to my final point. When I was a kid, Dad would stop anywhere we were driving to help put cows up. (It is an unwritten rule in the country.) Dad would tell me, “have you ever seen a vehicle/cow wreck? It ain’t pretty and no one walks away from it most times. You’re out a truck, maybe your life, and the cow isn’t going to make more milk, meat, or babies. You need to stop and get them contained immediately.” Most of the time we didn’t even know these people. But we stopped and helped anyway because it was the right thing to do.

When Corona was first reported it appears, we drove by the neighbor’s pasture. Now those cows are out and running through our fences. And just like a cow, “there ain’t no fence that will stop a cow if it really wants through.”

We encourage you to visit the CDC’s website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) for up-to-date information on how to keep you and your family safe.

Our priority at AMHA will always be to do our best to keep our members, staff, and animals safe. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates when appropriate.

Remember, we all share this passion for the Morgan breed. While we don’t all share the same activities or personal preferences, I hope we all can focus on the unifying fact that each Morgan is “The Horse That Chooses You.”

C.A. Lee, III
AMHA President