A Statement from Executive Director James Wilson Regarding COVID-19
This is a challenging time for everyone, and your health and safety are so important.
I hope that you and your loved ones are well.
As you are a member of the GallopNYC community, I want to update you on what we’re doing to protect the health of our riders and their families, our horses, our staff, and our volunteers — and the future of GallopNYC itself. With Gov. Cuomo’s directive to shut down all non-essential business, we made the painful decision to stop all riding lessons. We created a series of virtual opportunities to visit with the herd and staff, and to continue learning opportunities for riders and volunteers.
We feel strongly that horses and therapeutic riding change the lives of New Yorkers. When the pandemic has passed, we will continue to help New Yorkers with disabilities live their lives as fully and independently as possible. We are making plans as I write to bring GallopNYC services back. Riding is an activity that can be done with distancing, with some care. We are setting up protocols to make our riders and our staff safe while enjoying that magical time with a horse. We will let you know when we are back in operation.
During this time, we made some hard choices now so that our programming can come back as soon as COVID-19 is defeated. As we have no active riders, we don’t need to keep as many horses in the city, so we decided to furlough many of our horses. We’ve contracted with farms in upstate New York to care for members of our herd outside of the city, temporarily. Our horses are spending time in the country, relaxing in open fields. This “horse vacation” is good for our horses, and it will help GallopNYC to reduce the costs of caring for our herd in the city. As you all know, city life is expensive, especially when you’re a horse.
Reducing our resources in this way is a very difficult choice to make. With zero riders and far fewer horses to care for, we have less work for our staff. We have dramatically cut staff hours. We have received a PPP loan, which will help keep some key staff in place, but it will not pay for horse care.
I know that during these times, each today feels harder than yesterday. And while all of us focus on meeting each one of our challenges, I invite you now to take a moment to think about what it’s like to be with a horse. The warmth of his coat as you brush him, his kind eye looking to you for direction and guidance, the distinct smell of leather and horse and hay. I hope that you remember the times when a horse changed your life, taught you a powerful lesson, or supported you when you needed it.
And as you think about those times, I hope you will support GallopNYC. We are committed to NYC, and we are asking our community to be committed to us. One great opportunity is GallopNYC’s Barn Dance, our flagship fundraiser and the key to our ability to restore our riding programs. We are honoring Charles Boyce, who has come through like a hero in finding ways to make ventilators and protective equipment for New York. His work has been profiled in the Times and the New Yorker. We are honored that he has also found time to support GallopNYC and our riders.
In light of COVID19, we are postponing the Barn Dance to September 23 and plan to hold it outdoors at GallopNYC’s Sunrise Stables. As is now the new normal, we will simultaneously livestream the party to the widest possible audience of riders, families, friends, and supporters.
Many of our friends have shown that GallopNYC is a special source of joy. Our goal is to raise $150,000 by June 1, and I hope you will help us reach this goal. We plan a celebratory virtual toast on June 18th for all who help us achieve this goal.
Your generosity would be deeply meaningful to every rider who will benefit directly from your support. Will you consider making a very special, very generous gift this year? I hope you will also take a few minutes checking our our plan here: www.GallopNYC.org/2020-barn-dance.
You’re a member of our community because you know that horses are important and have the power to change lives. Horses have been a part of our lives for generations, and GallopNYC is committed to keeping that connection in New York City.
Thank you for your generous continued friendship and support, and please keep yourself and your family safe.
Thank you again,