Monday, May. 27, 2024

Get Off Your High Horse And Vote

Every morning on the way to my barn I pass plenty of idyllic Virginia horse country scenes, but this fall there’s been some added entertainment along my daily route.
   

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Every morning on the way to my barn I pass plenty of idyllic Virginia horse country scenes, but this fall there’s been some added entertainment along my daily route.
   
There’s a point in the road between Middleburg and Upperville where two bucolic farms are nestled into hillsides directly across from one another. Both have beautiful stone work, lovely fencing and, in this particular season, colorful foliage. Separated only by U.S. Route 50, they seem to complement each other in perfect harmony throughout the majority of the year. But lately it’s hard to ignore the fact that something else divides them: A collection of McCain signs blanket one side of the road, while a line of Obama signs stand in the opposing yard.
   
Our county of Loudoun, as well as Chester County in Pennsylvania, is expected to be one of the most hotly contested in the country come Nov. 4. Demographics have changed rapidly in the past few years in these small pockets of tradition-steeped horse country, and if the signs on Route 50 are any indication, local horsemen are taking note of their influence. But no matter where they reside, I hope equestrians everywhere will emerge from their comfortable cocoons and feel the value of their own input this fall.
  
Part of the charm of horse showing is that it’s been constant–a tradition, an escape, no matter what’s going on in the world. Horse people are often too busy to eat healthy meals or wash their mountains of dirty breeches, let alone keep up with the news and research both presidential platforms thoroughly. It’s easy to feel that, as horse people, we’re immune from problems of society on the whole.
  
But try as we might, we aren’t immune. No matter how devoted we are to our equine friends, horse people shouldn’t forget that, at the end of the day, we’re still people.
  
Care about rising fuel costs? Tax hikes or cuts? Immigration? Climate change and land preservation? Increasing feed prices and the farm subsidies that influence them? Healthcare for yourself or your farm workers? Then educate yourself and vote. These issues are just the tip of the iceberg, but the decisions made on them and countless others during the next administration will likely affect equestrian sports in America.
   
All too often I see anonymous posters on our online forums, www.chronicleforums.com, whip themselves into a frenzy over the controversy of the week, but their ire never goes further than an Internet archive. I hear friends complain of disappointment in the workplace, in personal relationships, and even around the barn with their horses, but they cling to their comfortable resentment instead of actually seeking a solution.
   
The horse world, and our nation on the whole, could benefit from a little less talk and a little more action. This election year, many Americans may once again be content to criticize decisions because they were too bitter, bored or downright lazy to contribute. But I’ve seen the incredible work ethic in horse people across the country, so come Nov. 4, we’ll have no excuses for lack of engagement.
   
I consider myself a staunch supporter of my candidate of choice, but I still smile every morning as I see those competing signs on the way to the barn. While I don’t think every horse farm across the country needs to display its political alliance, I certainly hope every horseman and woman will be exercising his or her right and responsibility to vote.

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Kat Netzler, Editorial Staff

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