Finances are a Concern For Businesses
Marengo, IL – April 2, 2020 – Like many others across the world, Platinum Farm trainer Sirena Liggett is faced with challenges no one could ever dream of. A sudden an unexpected change in business due to the global pandemic and rising concerns over human health and well-being. Most equine professionals have been through some sort of contagious disease scenario, but usually it is an equine illness that can be controlled with good management and precautions, which doesn’t compare to the international crisis at hand. But Liggett is making the best of the state ordered shut down affecting her business and her family.
Liggett has closed the barn doors at her Platinum Farm in Marengo, Illinois, to lesson students and clients coming to see their horses, so now more of the care of about 30 horses is thrust on Liggett and the staff. She has been riding most of the horses daily, a task usually done by the horse owners, with staff helping with grooming duties and lunging in addition to increased turnout hours. She’s even started using the indoor arena for turnout on rain days to keep the horses moving everyday.
Liggett is sending group texts to the boarders with videos as well as posting photos on Facebook and Instagram to keep her clients up to date and in touch with their beloved animals. It’s a hard time for the clients as well, who are used to almost daily visits with their horses to exercise and groom them. For many horsepeople in the same situation at other stables, it’s like being without the family dog for a time period that feels like an eternity.
Liggett’s business is one of the many agricultural businesses that incurs expense even though the doors are closed. The horses still need to be fed so there are the costs of hay, grain and shavings, and the help still needs to get paid as well as the usual utility bills. Fortunately, Liggett’s husband, Tim, is a farrier and his services are still needed for the animal’s health even though many of the area barns are closed as well, so he is still bringing home a weekly check to support the family’s needs.
“Financially this will be a rough month, or longer, depending on how long this pandemic lasts,” said Liggett. “We don’t make much profit off of board so without lessons and show income, it might effect the planned improvements that we have for this summer. We are currently working on the finishing touches of a new tack room that we started before the virus and we have lots of other improvements on our to-do list. We’ll have to tighten our personal and business purse strings this year, cutting back where we can. I am looking into some of the SBA loans that are currently being offered for some assistance.”
U.S. Equestrian has also shut down the equestrian competitions across the country, currently until May 3, 2020, which cuts into Liggett’s other opportunities to make money for the business. Platinum Farm usually attends at least two horse shows a month and more during the summer. They also offer summer camps, lessons, training, and an Interscholastic Equestrian Association riding team as part of their business services. With the doors closed, there is no income from these services.
In addition to the extra work at the business, the Liggett’s have two children, Alita, 7, and Elodie, 4, that now need homeschooling and are home all day.
“Homeschooling has actually been really fun for us,” added Liggett. “Alita is a great student and enjoys her school work. Elodie is in pre-school so I’ve gone online and printed letter tracing sheets and other actives to help keep her involved with homeschool activities too. We are early risers and can usually be done with the bulk of the schoolwork by 9:00 am and then we head to the barn to ride and work with the horses.
“My daily schedule is easier with no after school lessons to teach at the barn. We work in the barn from about 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. I pack the girls a lunch, which they love and consider it a picnic in the viewing room! After the barn we head back to the house to do PE assignments from school, art or music, whatever we didn’t finish in the morning. I go back to the barn after dinner when Tim is home and put away the late turnout horses, feed evening supplements and do a night check. It’s all pretty normal for us with the exception of no lessons and no boarders to talk to or oversee,” explained Liggett.
Liggett has only left the farm for groceries or the feed store for the horses. Tim travels to a few farms but has Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer and only works with the horses, not people. Platinum Farm has their staff on-site daily to help care for the horses, no friends or family visitors are allowed.
When the crisis is over, Liggett is looking forward to all the customers getting to spend time with their horses again and having the lessons and shows start back up. They miss friends and the clients and have always had horse showing as something to look forward to. She is optimistic and doing what it takes to get her family and business through this shelter in place period, eagerly looking forward to May events and activities as usual.
For now, the quiet at Platinum Farm is part of the daily routine.
“This time in history makes you appreciate what you do have, we are making the best of it but really look forward to business as usual more than ever,” added Liggett.
About Platinum Farm
Located on 47 picturesque acres in Marengo, Illinois, the farm is one of the mid-west’s top equestrian facilities. Platinum Farm offers a premium facility with 21 stalls, in a safe, friendly and professional environment. Specializing in hunters, jumpers, and equitation, Platinum Farm works with riders of all levels and offers an outstanding beginner program with the focus on developing horsemanship and a solid foundation of basics. Contact them to discuss the many programs offered.