'We can’t cut:' Essex County stable owners struggle in a pandemic
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Brenda Gagnon, owner of Lazee G Ranch, admits it has been a very difficult year to stay in business when they have no revenue coming in.
Lazee G offers riding lessons, camps and educational programs at their sprawling farm on Baseline Rd.
“It’s been very, very rough on the whole family and our horse community here, our students, their mental health,” says Gagnon. “They love coming here and we love spending time with them.”
Gagnon says her children and their families help at the ranch, which has helped keep them afloat during the pandemic.
But she’s not sure they can survive another restricted summer.
“Having an operation like this we don't have a chance to cut. You still have to feed them. Give them their hay. Exercise them. The insurance still has to be paid and we pay a lot of insurance just to have a facility like this,” says Gagnon.
To help horse businesses like theirs, Ontario is launching the Equine Hardship Program on Monday, offering up to $2,500 for every horse up to $20,000.
Gagnon is polite in accepting the help, “that would be really, really nice,” but she tells CTV News it is just a drop in the bucket for what it costs to run a stable of 25 to 30 horses.
Lazee G’s future, according to Gagnon, relies on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the spring and summer of 2021.
In the meantime, her family will keep exercising the horses and keeping them in shape.
“Keeping their brain in shape, so that when we can start up, they'll be willing to accept their vacation time is up and they have to work again.”