TALES FROM THE TRAILS
It’s funny how you come to rely on certain things in your life, hardly noticing or missing them until they’re gone. I’m not much into surfing the web, don’t have a smart phone and have never sent a text.
I use Google when I’m researching. Other than that, the three main sites that I visit regularly are Yahoo to check my e-mail, Craigslist to see what’s for sale in the farm and free sections, and the Wellington-WEF message board.
And so, as usual, on Saturday, Nov. 1, I was on the computer at my usual early hour of 4 a.m. I checked my e-mails (not much), the Craigslist ads (nothing of interest) and the Wellington-WEF message board. Which is when I ran into the problem.
The site was down. I retyped www.wellington-wef.com, just to make sure, even though it’s right there on my favorites list and always worked before, but no, the little thingy in the window at the top spun and spun, attempting to connect, before finally giving up.
A little sad, I philosophically shrugged my shoulders and moseyed on with my work and my day. And later on that evening, I made my online rounds again, only to find the site still down. I frowned. But it was a weekend; stuff happens, they were probably busy.
Sunday: no Wellington-WEF. Now it was getting worrisome.
Monday, the site came up, but only the home page. None of the buttons at the top worked: no business directory, no boarding and trainers, no horses for sale or real estate/lodging or calendar or free links. And, most distressing, no message board.
I started having withdrawal symptoms, going online more than usual, saying a prayer and hitting the message board button, only to see the lonely, tiny script at the top of the otherwise empty page, informing me I’d hit an incorrect key file, whatever that meant. I knew what it meant: no message board.
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, most of the buttons at the top of the site worked, except the boarding and trainers, and the message board. I felt as if I’d fallen down a black hole.
Depression set in. By Wednesday, I couldn’t take it anymore. My despair wasn’t helped by the election results. I resorted to chocolate almond ice cream and finally called Jill Townsend, the originator and owner of the Wellington-WEF site.
“I know, I know,” she said. “We’re working on it. The host company changed their program at the start of this month, and the new script is not compatible with our program, or something like that. We’ve got part of the site back up, but not the message board.”
Jill mentioned that there is a Wellington-WEF site on Facebook. I visited it, but it wasn’t the same as the old familiar message board.
Jill admitted she’s not a “techie” person and that trying to get the site back up online has been a nightmare.
“This is definitely not my forte,” she said. “It’ll be up when it’s up. We’re working diligently, feverishly trying to get the problem corrected. We could start a whole new message board from scratch, but the thing is, the message board which existed has an amazing searchable history. I know a lot of people use it as a reference. It’s definitely a terrific resource, a great asset to our local horse community,” she said.
I concurred with Jill that her site, which she started in 1997, is one of the best horse community resources around. I don’t know how many times I’ve referred people to her site and mentioned it to total strangers looking for anything from boarding to equipment, trainers to horses.
For people like me, not associated with a barn, the message board is a way to keep in touch with the wider horse community, hear about upcoming shows, sales and events, and keep track of friends and acquaintances. It’s like the old “party line” telephone connections that used to exist, where everyone listened in on everyone else’s conversations. It has that neighborly feel to it.
“The site sort of evolved into a life of its own,” Jill said. “We’ve kept it very simple and easy to use, which a lot of people like. If worse comes to worst, we will start a new message board, but we’re still trying to save the old one.”
So there it is, the tantalizing reminder of one of my favorite sites, currently out of reach, but with a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The day I click on the message board and see the familiar threads reappear — that will be a good day. In the meantime, I still have my memories. And the chocolate almond ice cream.
UPDATE: As of Tuesday, Nov. 11, the message board feature at Wellington-WEF appears to working again, but without the site history.