Monthly Archives: December 2006

Case Closed for 2006

I’m busy piling, organizing or tossing the business paper trail from 2006. What a mess of paperwork in spite of the zillions of electrons storing most of my records.

The paperless office is as likely as the manureless horse stall; neither can exist in nature.

I like using colored file folders. Manila isn’t much of a fashion statement for the file cabinets and the colored folders help me recognize the sought after folder quicker. There is no rhyme scheme to the colored folders; I don’t have enough time or energy to be a top level file manager.

I use a label maker to label my folders. They make things easy to read and easy to label immediately. I rationalize the expensive label tape refill cost to labor efficiency for labeling.

I try to make 2007 file labels exactly like their 2006 predecessors. Just the year is different. I can’t even remember the children’s names half of the time; how will I remember what I named a file folder?

It’s true that we get to "start over" with a new day each morning but starting over with a new year is much more dramatic.

Have a wonderful time reinventing your horse business and your personal self in 2007.

Riders Up!

Thinking about Christmas gifts and children today, it occured to me that another generation of horsemen will soon get their first "almost real" horse from under the Christmas tree. Who in this business hasn’t logged many miles in the saddle on one of these?

Don’t you wish you still had yours?

Idea Flow

In my soon to be published book, The Zen of Horse Stall Cleaning, I ‘ll have a chapter on idea flow. My best activities for free flow of creative thoughts are: stall cleaning, mowing hay and painting barns.  All require a level of concentration that once mastered, is delivered in auto-pilot mode.  The repetitive task leaves plenty of trance-like think time available.

For the quick burst of creative thought, the shower is tops.

Keep track of the ideas you come up with for your business during your favorite activites. Zen write them down. Somewhere, anywhere!

If you don’t, your creative thought may take a long, slow lap around the universe before you are lucky enough to enjoy it again.  Or, it may just flow down the drain and away forever.

Horse Industy Statistics

Most industries have mountains of business data: ratios, margins, analysis by enterprise, demographics, product research, buyer profiles.  Most does not include the horse business, unfortunately.  Finding data about the business operations of BLT’s (boarding, lessons, training operation) is close to impossible.

Anyone know of  good sources of data for the business part of the horse business?

5 Things You Don’t Know About Me

Kimberly Black over at http://www.agilenavigator.com/ is playing Blog Tag. How to play: List 5 things about yourself on your blog. 5 things that most people don’t already know about you.  Part two: Then tag 5 other bloggers.  I’ll play part two later.

In a fit of egomania, here are 5:

1.      I know a little about a lot of things.  I’ll kick your butt on Jeopardy!

2.      I rode a bike across the State of Massachusetts.

3.      I’ve flown in a hot air balloon, a sailplane and got to fly a Cessna 150.  My dream is to fly in an F-15.

4.      I love hanging around horses, but as an alternative, there is no better place than on a sailboat, close hauled, on the edge, in heavy air.

5.      I traveled all over the U.S. as a member of a collegiate livestock judging team competitively judging cattle, sheep and hogs.

4 Words to Watch Out For

Cowardly_lion_1 You’ve heard the four words before; you may have even said them.
They come out in many conversations as part of the automatic defense arsenal.

In stressful conversations, rather than admitting a problem exists and then searching for a solution, this fab four rolls off the other person’s, tongue: "But, you don’t understand…"

Insert these familiar endings or the common endings you hear every day:

  • My horse is really tricky to ride.
  • My balance is fine, this horse has a springy trot.
  • I have read almost every book there is about natural horsemanship.
  • I can’t afford to pay more for a better boarding barn.

Whenever I hear those words, "But, you don’t understand..", I know that I may not understand everything, but I do understand that the speaker chooses to hide behind the excuse of me not understanding because he refuses to admit he clearly doesn’t. (understand)

Copywriting for the Horse Business

Copywriting lessons from the bathroom, Part One.

Most ads written by professional horsemen are BORING. 

They get the job done by displaying the basic information:  Horse for Sale, Riding Lessons, Horse Training but, they are as exciting as watching flies gather on the manure pile.

I use Edge shaving cream every day.  Sorry Edge, but shaving cream is one  boring product, especially at 6:00 A.M. But, the folks at Edge don’t think so. 

The can says it’s: Advanced Gel, it will give the most comfortable refreshing shave you can get. Best protection ever from nicks, cuts and irritation.  If that’s not enough, it has unique refreshing ingredients to give you a conditioning sensation you can actually feel for the most refreshing shave ever.

The most refreshing shave ever?  These folks can’t be faulted for their  attempts to create beautiful thoughts about a task of pure maintenance.

So if Edge can be maximizing imagery and benefits in the minds of readers, why can’t you?

  • "The focus of our lesson program is your personal growth in horsemanship, including more confidence, better stamina and rider fitness and an enjoyable experience every time you ride.
  • "This gelding is trained with the manners of a proper English butler.  He respects your space, moves quietly and aims to please from the moment you lead him out of the stall."
  • "The aim of our training program is not only for your horse to be well schooled, responsive and easy to ride, but also for you to continue to build your relationship with him so that advanced work will come more easily in the future as another layer on foundation training we established.

Get creative!

Don’t Look Back

I was honored when Gaping Void blogger Hugh MacLeod posted my mini manifesto titled Don’t Look Back this week.  It’s my personal mantra to avoid dwelling on past performance, mistakes and possible closet skeletons.

Here it is:

Horses have been training me for a long time.  Directly and indirectly, my experiences with them have shaped my life.  Thoughts on dwelling on the past follow.

Riding horses over jumps is life: fast, slow, up, down, control, recklessness.  Thinking about jumping on horseback, I recall the words of a riding instructor about show jumping. He said, “When you hear the jump rail get clunked by your horse’s hoof, DON’T LOOK BACK! Keep both eyes forward and focus on the next jump; you can’t fix anything back there!

That definitive “clunk” of hoof on wood is paralyzing to the rider. It means one of two possible things have happened. The rail has only been ticked and the rider will escape faults on the round or the rail will fall from the standards penalizing the rider on his imperfect ride.

When clunks occur, the temptation to turn to see if the rail came down is addictive. Looking back blurs the rider’s focus on the next fence. An expert rider already has his eyes and attention on the next jump as he clears the rail directly under him. Timing is critical and focus is imperative.

Good timing and powerful concentration are universal success ingredients.

Competing on a horse in a jumping class is much like the way we all do our jobs or run our businesses. The jump class is a series of obstacles of different types over a mapped course. The horse and rider are a team that meets each challenge head on.

Your job is to be prepared to do the best you can on each jump in your day. Sometimes we tick knockdown or crash on the jumps in our way. The riding coach speaks the ultimate horse sense when he says, don’t look back.

Metaphorically, the next jump is coming quickly from the future to the present and the past jump is unchangeable history.

Focus on the next hurdle with all of your power of concentration. The time for analysis of what happened is later, when the round is over. Too often, we get hung up on what has happened instead of what is happening right now. We know that we can’t change history but that doesn’t stop us from dwelling on it.

I don’t suspect my horse has spent much of his day worrying about which jump rail he knocked down. He is only concerned with the matters at hand, that being the next jump or his next flake of hay. Horse sense comes easy only to horses.

Understand the importance of today, here and now. Focus and ready for progress. When thoughts meander back to “knocked rails” from previous experiences, the chance of losing focus heightens and history repeats.

Don’t Look Back.

No coincidence the blog is titled the same.

Risk Management in the Horse Business

Horsemen and horsewomen are no strangers to risk.  Our non-horsemen friends and acquaintances are timid if not fear struck when around the horses we work with every day.  The thought of  climbing on  or even leading a horse is equivalent to making an intentional parachute jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  Why do it?

Istockbw_bronco_rider

For horsemen, risk acceptance around horses is a given.  We manage our risk of injury, but don’t avoid it.

What fascinates me about horsemen is their reluctance to try new things in their businesses by experimenting with changes in traditional models of operation. How can such seasoned risk takers be so timid themselves about trying something new?

Take some risk by instituting change in your business.  If it works, yahoo for you!

If it doesn’t, dust yourself off and get back on with another try; you’ve been bucked off many times before.