Cooper, a three year old quarter horse gelding, took forever to cool out after the second trailer ride of his life. He’d just been delivered in a stock trailer to our place for training. The horse hauler said it took a while to get him loaded and he hadn’t tied him in the trailer. I took some time to get to know Cooper while leading him around the paddock to get him calm and cool from his excited state on a hot day.
His first trailer ride ended with stitches to his forehead to close a gash. His second ride was terrifying. Not a very good track record for the young guy. It was obvious he was a good horse; he just had too much life pushed at him in too big of a hurry.
The following day I took him out for some basic leading, stopping and turning work. He was a quick and responsive student. I knew that he’d be leaving some day to go back to his owner and trailer work might take a while. Better start slow and steady to get him over his fear of trailers. The goal for the session was to introduce him to the trailer ramp and put one foot on it. Not much, but a start and I had plenty of time to get him trailer broke.
Cooper followed me to the ramp and obligingly put one foot on the ramp. I praised him and backed him up. Sensing trust, I asked him to put both front feet on the ramp. He did.
In five minutes he was walking on and off the trailer like he’d done all of his life.
Just like Cooper the horse, when we rush and push people into doing things because of deadlines, things can turn into an excited uproar with very little accomplished. Everybody breaks out in a sweat and sometimes people get hurt.
When calmness prevails and leadership is confident, amazing things happen with horses and people.
Marketing is my least favorite of business activities. The time and financial investment in a marketing plan can be huge and the results are difficult to measure.
That, of course, makes it hard to stay motivated to market with a method according to plan. But, you’ll find once you start, like anything, it isn’t so hard and it requires less mental focus and more plain old action.
As part of my marketing plan, I started on a quest to get 1000 subscribers for my free newsletter about making money in the horse business about 24 months ago and I’m 34 short of that goal today.
Methodically, week after week the letter goes out, and more subscribers appear. The rate of new subscribers has been increasing geometrically lately and that is usually the way things happen-in bursts. I’m happy about the tail end bursts of subscribers, but it would have been much easier if I could have seen steadier results earlier on.
Keep that in mind as you develop your horse business marketing program. The results will be slow at first, but persistence will pay off.
And remember, anybody can fall off a horse, not just anybody can keep getting back on.
I had a terrific time meeting the members of the American Morgan Horse Association at their annual convention held in Atlanta this past weekend. The association’s tag line: "The Morgan: A PASSION That Lasts a Lifetime." is true to the feelings of the many energetic members I spoke with. They love their Morgan horses and have done so for
many years, make that decades.
I was delighted to be able to speak about making money in the horse business in 3 seminars on Saturday. The audiences were receptive to new ideas, old ideas and the notion of applying renewed energy into making their horse businesses into what they really wanted.
Some horsemen are convinced that making money in the horse business is impossible and have settled for breaking even as a business goal. Depending on the circumstances, breaking even may be the perfect goal for some business owners.
However, if breaking even is the goal, that’s probably as well as you’ll ever do. If your goal is to be in the top six places in a class, fourths and fifths will materialize, but first place will remain elusive and out of reach.
Henry Ford is credited with once saying, " If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right"
Creating a profitable business starts with what you believe about your possibilities.
It’s been worry week with consulting and coaching professional horsemen.
People are worried about:
- Cash flow
- Potential lawsuits
- Finding good employees
- Not spending enough time with family
- Raising rates
- Worried about worrying
"If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you. " ~Calvin Coolidge
Take a deep breath.
Let someone else do the worrying.
I had a long conversation today about a variety of topics with professional horseman Reinhard Teetor. If you know Reinhard, you also know he has been involved with horses for a long time and has no problem saying what he thinks.
He was telling me a story about his recent experience with an evaluation of a horse. The horse needed a great deal of training time invested to become a slightly above average horse. We’re talking about thousands of dollars of investment by the owner.
Reinhard handled the start of a potentially difficult conversation with the owner with a classic approach. Instead of delivering a salvo of bad news, he asked a simple question instead. He asked the owner, " Do you have a thick skin?" The owner answered that she did.
He delivered his honest evaluation of where the horse was in value at that moment, what he could do to improve the horse and what the horse’s value might be after thousands of dollars of training time. The sum of present value plus training investment was just about equal to future value. It wasn’t what the owner wanted to hear.
After some time passed, the owner admitted that this what she suspected in her gut about the horse all along and thanked him for being honest after she gave him permission to tell her like it is.
Sometimes you have to be "cruel to be kind" when asked for your professional advice. Asking permission first, always helps take the sting of the truth away from you as the horse professional and place it on the reality of the situation.
Honesty, delivered correctly to the listener, is always the best policy.