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Stephan Conter: "Compared to many other industries, we are privileged"

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
"There are so many people in our industry who are fanatic about the daily work and the sport, so I am sure we will all fight together to get the sport going again," Stephan Conter says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen



The equestrian community has been forced to adapt to a whole new routine after the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak suddenly halted all international competition. World of Showjumping called up Stephex Group's CEO Stephan Conter to ask how he is assessing the situation. "It is a strange moment in time," Conter says. "We are still in Wellington, Florida, and everything is very quiet here. When I saw how the Covid-19 situation started to develop, we decided to stay here a bit longer."

Although Conter is certain that the industry will be going through a tough time, he is also determined to stay positive. "This will for sure affect the industry, both on short and long term," Conter says. "On short term, many businesses will struggle with having about six weeks of lockdown. For my own companies, we have been forced to make some big decisions and we have closed some of our factories for three weeks. On long term – if we are lucky – I think we might see a boost. I believe that in the best scenario, which would be that we get out of this in about six weeks' time, there will be a big effort from everyone in the industry to get things moving. There are also so many people in our industry who are fanatic about the daily work and the sport, so I am sure we will all fight together to get the sport going again. Then the will to create and spend is also going to be there, and together we are going to be positive and push forward." 

“I think that we can consider ourselves lucky that this happened to Europe after China, and I hope they can share their medical expertise and that this will bring the situation under control faster,” Conter says.

Photo © Stephan Conter's private collection
"I feel stiff, but I am very happy to be back in the saddle!" Conter tells after taking up riding again. Photo © Stephan Conter's private collection.

Slowing down is not something Conter would usually do, but under the current circumstances he and the rest of the equestrian community have been left with no other choice. "Although our riders and grooms keep going as usual for the sake of our horses, it is a strange moment for so many of us as we are obliged to stay at home. Normally, we all tend to live on a pace of 200 km/h and we hardly ever stay at home. I think that now is the time to focus on all the little things in life that we have forgotten to enjoy. We can spend these weeks reflecting on our lives, and maybe reorganise whatever needs attention. Being forced to slow down, we will perhaps see things in a different light. We are all going to get through these weeks, even if blocking horse people at home for four to six weeks sounds insane," Conter laughs. “We have to stay quiet now, stay in quarantine and do our part in helping the world get out of this. We have to stay positive, move on when we can and start again." 

Being forced to slow down on the business front, Conter has taken up other activities. "Before, I've had no time for myself and now I've had to organize my days totally different. I start with early Skype meetings with my staff and by 9am local time I am usually done working. So, I have started to ride again! These are the little things in life I have not had time to enjoy; riding with my kids and my girlfriend. I feel stiff, but I am very happy to be back in the saddle! I think we are going to keep a few nice seven-year-olds so I can enjoy life a little bit more," Conter tells. "It is so nice to ride a good horse! I am not saying that I will be back competing though, but I actually prefer jumping to flat work. This week we might have a little family competition here!”

“There are things that we in this industry tend to take for granted, and I think that what is happening around us now should remind us of how lucky we are in our little community. Even when locked in at home, we can still enjoy our lives with horses. Compared to many other industries, we are privileged." 


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