Reflecting on 2020 – “Well, that escalated quickly.”
These seemed no better quote to describe our first, and as we were to discover later, last trip to the USA of 2020.
It started as a normal year. We had plans to head to North Carolina, California and Vermont to run our certification courses. Five days in each place to train individuals to become Equine Assisted Learning Facilitators and start their dream career, working with horses to help people.
As we prepared to head to North Carolina, there had been a bit of chatter about this “COVID-19” that was going around. Nothing crazy, just that there was something new that had hit North America. There were no travel restrictions or warnings. So we headed out on our merry way to go and train our eagerly waiting soon-to-be facilitators in North Carolina – who had traveled from a few places in the USA to be there.
If anyone had ever told us that the entire world could change in under 5 days, without some sort of cataclysmic disaster, we would have said they were being crazy. But as it turns out – a lot can change in five days.
The trip started great! Great flight, great place to stay, amazing host, fantastic facilitators and of course, phenomenal horses. The first night we went out for a great dinner and drinks at a local restaurant with our lovely host Shelly, toured the town a little bit and got our bearings. Just like we did every other place we went.
As we went into the second and third day, we started to get texts from family members at home, saying that things were getting pretty crazy in Canada and there was talk of closing the borders. We were totally shocked! After the course the third day we got back to the hotel to find it was now on lockdown. No public spaces open, no more breakfast, no pool. Everything was shut down. Doors were locked at 6pm. Restaurants were now closed. This was when we realized that things had escalated – a lot – in mere days. COVID-19 had officially began to change the world.
We called the airports to see if we would need to leave early as the borders were now closing. We were told to keep our flights as getting on an earlier one would take us longer to get home and have many layovers. Everything was closed down so we spent our evenings learning – or attempting to learn – tiktok dances in between discussions of what we will need to do for our upcoming courses if this continues.
I feel the need to stop real quick and discuss the level of incompetence we felt doing tik-tok dances. Although it created an opportunity for hysterical laughing, we realized very quickly how out of shape we were and the lack of coordination that we truly have. Watch the video… if nothing else for an opportunity to laugh. Oh and follow us on tiktok =) @equineconnection 😉
Back to business. Our entire model revolved around face-to-face training and experiential learning… now what?
Where there is a will there is a way. We started to decipher how we could possibly change our entire business. And still keep to our level of learning, and our level of integrity. We came up with the online theory but still knew that a hands on portion was completely necessary for people to really understand the the horses would be the teachers. But people still had to be able to start their businesses.
We had no idea at this point that even 8 months later, we still wouldn’t be able to travel to the USA, parts of Australia or even parts of Canada.
The new format was born.
When we finally traveled home it was beyond eerie. We had a layover in Atlanta airport – the busiest airport in North America, and there was not a sole. There were maybe 10 other people in the entire airport – although security was a breeze.
Have you seen the tv show “The Walking Dead”? We were expecting a hoard of zombies to pop out at any moment. The entire place was deserted. Even once on the plane, there were maybe 10 other people on the entire flight. It was the most surreal thing. Although, the word surreal soon became a part of our regular vocabulary. Because that was the best way to describe anything.
Completely, and utterly surreal.