Outlook 2023: Trade Winds horse farm in Rexford sees success after changing business model due to pandemic

A woman and a man stand in front of a wall of award ribbons
A large wall at Trade Winds Farm in Rexford is lined with medals, ribbons and trophies from the careers of co-owners Agatha and John Reid.
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REXFORD – The pandemic wasn’t kind to businesses that rely on in-person participation, especially indoors.

Sectors like the performing arts and the restaurant industry were acutely affected, as customers — and their disposable income — stayed home and found other ways to spend their time and money.

The equine sport of competitive show jumping was one of those casualties.

Despite the setbacks, some players in the show-horse industry were able to come out the other side with different business models.

Such was the case for Trade Winds Farm, a 60-acre horse farm in Rexford that offers training for competitive show jumpers, grooming and various other aspects of the equine industry.

“The pandemic was a huge transition for us,” said Trade Winds co-owner Agatha Reid. “It shook life up for a lot of people.”

Reid and her husband, John, are newlyweds. Together they own and operate Trade Winds.

Growing up, Trade Winds Farm was a family business for Agatha Reid. She had a full career as a professional show-horse rider, and in 2007 was named the top U.S. amateur owner/rider. She has also been a participant on the national and international show-jumping circuit.

A large wall at Trade Winds is lined with hundreds of medals, ribbons and trophies from the couple’s career.

Today, Agatha handles the farm’s daily operations and manages a staff of six, along with dozens of horses. She coaches customers and trains horses, and also handles the organizational and financial aspects of the business.

“Things have definitely changed significantly over the last few years. It started with COVID, obviously,” John Reid said.

Trade Winds Farm, like many businesses in New York, closed to the public in 2020.

The business had to make a number of changes due to the pandemic. Some customers decided to sell their horses during the pandemic. When colleges suspended in-person schooling, Skidmore students who had horses at Trade Winds no longer kept them there. The pandemic also affected some customers’ finances.

“Obviously a lot of people were, and continue to be, affected by the economy,” Agatha Reid said. “We have some people who couldn’t afford to do this anymore, so they had to sell their horses or find a different option that worked better for their finances. That was the first big change. But then, our bread and butter at the time was competing in horse shows.”

Traveling and horse shows also stopped during the pandemic, Agatha Reid explained. When things began to open up again, she said, many customers were hesitant and mostly stayed at the farm. She said many were grateful to be there and not travel for competitions.

“Then when everything opened up and the world started going again, we were just like, we really liked being here,” Agatha said. “Our focus changed because it was forced to, but then we liked the direction it went and we stayed with it. We stayed with more of just training people’s horses. I do think that impacted our business right off the bat. We were making money in different ways. I wasn’t giving as many lessons.”

The number of horse sales picked up over the past few years, Agatha said. She explained that while everyone was stuck at home they sought new hobbies, and made purchases such as bicycles — and horses.

“It changed the way we made our money,” Agatha Reid said. “Now we don’t travel anymore, which is why I’m able to take on these other adventures, because otherwise we would be on the road several weeks out of the year, and Florida in the winter. Obviously you can’t compete in the snow.”

Agatha Reid was appointed as a Clifton Park Town Board member in January. Last year she was appointed to the Capital District Regional Planning Commission by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.

“We had a few customers leave, and we’ve slowly filled those stalls with thoroughbred and training horses that get sent to us, where the people don’t come with them, just the horse,” Agatha Reid said. “We started to buy more of our own racehorses at the sales, so our business has transitioned in that way.”

The business is no longer making its money from competitions, Agatha said. She explained that it can be difficult to make money at a competition in general, because you have to win to make money — and if you are not having a good week, it becomes an expensive week.

The business focus has shifted to more of a training facility for racehorses instead of having people board their horses at the facility, John Reid said. Instead of having customers come visit their horses after work or on their own schedule, it makes the day much shorter for the couple, he explained.

“Like everything, it’s better to work smarter, not harder,” he said.

John handles the ingenuity of the business. He has built a horse walker; uses a mini-excavator for work throughout the farm; has cleared and built a new paddock; and worked at countless other projects on the farm.

He once had his own farm in Fort Edward, and the couple met through horses, they explained. When they first began dating they were running two farms. Driving between Northway exits 17 and 8 multiple times each day was difficult and made for long days.

“Once we moved in together we merged our businesses. John sold his farm and came here,” Agatha said. “That’s been a huge help for me. He has a lot of skills that I don’t have and vice versa. He did have customers in Fort Edward who came here.”

More Outlook 2023: Looking Ahead – Our annual report on Capital Region business

Categories: Clifton Park and Halfmoon, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Outlook 2023

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