Day Off Does Wonders

I suppose my wife and I are like many horsemen who are responsible for the daily care of their horses. Getting away is never easy and sometimes, it’s easier to stay at home than it is to travel. We chose to "get away" earlier this week to celebrate our 25 th wedding anniversary.

We didn’t plan for an exotic vacation, though. It was a 25/25 celebration. We took 25 hours off in the middle of the week to enjoy a 50 mile road trip, a delicious uninterrupted dinner for two, followed by viewing the movie "The Bourne Ultimatum".

Letchworth_falls A relaxing visit to Letchworth State Park the following day made for a perfect "vacation". We both agreed on the ride home that even though the vacation was only 25 hours long, it made a big difference.

When was the last time you treated yourself to a break?

Speaking About Horses

Public speaking is the best way to communicate your message in the shortest period of time. While the written word is effective, it can’t top the communication power of a thoughtfully crafted and well delivered speech or talk. Public speaking touches all of the senses.

And, like everything else that’s good and powerful, the skill doesn’t develop overnight.

Or over “nights”. It develops over months and years.

Employees train, athletes train, speakers train.

I belong to the NY National Speakers Association

Filled with ideas and on the way home from a NYNSA meeting last night, I thought about horse clinicians and how they “train” for building their businesses. Acknowledging the support NSA and speaking organizations like Toastmasters International offer, is there a book on “How to Be A Successful Horse Clinician/Instructor” out there? Or a clinic on being a Horse Clinician?

I’d sure like to know more if there is either.

And if you are a clinician, do you care?

See How Easily You Can Get Customers and Prospects to Your Barn Door

I was a lucky kid growing up. Lucky, because I had a big back yard. It was about 28 acres big. My siblings, friends and I spent many days exploring, building, digging and hiding in the vast outback.

Geographically disadvantaged as a flatlander, there were no rushing mountain streams or flowing rivers in the valley for exploration and water play. There were only a few ditches that the rain and snow runoff would eventually pool in to create a kid’s river.

Kids’ rivers are navigable by toy boats and are only inches deep at flood stage. It was in the kids’ rivers of the flat lands that I began to understand the principles of controlling flow. Mudding about in the puddles and ditches, I could easily create my own mini rivers, dams and lakes with just a shovel. One of the few things that man has been able to count on through time is the fact that water usually runs downhill in the path of least resistance.

Prospects and customers like a little help from gravity and love low resistance just like flowing water. They almost always choose the easy way, the shortcut, whenever they make their purchase choices. As an example, the drive-in window for morning coffee attracts more customers than the walk-in convenience store. And the mall parking lot is preferred over that tricky parallel parking on the street. The business that offers consistent, friendly service attracts lifetime customers.

Creating the path of least resistance to divert the flow of prospects and customers to your horse business front door can be done easily. Here are some suggestions:
1. Create well placed, easy to read professionally lettered signage. That not only includes at the road but also directional signs at the ranch or farm.
2. Add Mapquest or a similar directions link to your website to show people how to find your facility for the first time.
3. Maintain easy, convenient and puddle-free parking for boarders, students and visitors.
4. Use large type for telephone numbers on printed material and business cards.
5. Keep the barn and arena entrances well lit, clean and inviting.
6. Have an answering machine or voice mail with a friendly greeting for after hours messages and unmanned telephones during business hours.
7. Provide comfortable chairs in the waiting or viewing areas and hot and cold beverages.
8. Ask your customers what else you can do to make it easy to do business with you.

Understanding the path of least resistance for your prospects and customers is simple and low cost and much like child’s play.

Start working on diverting more of the customer income stream into your business today.

Why You Should Write About What You Have Learned

I’m writing about writing which sounds redundant when spoken aloud.

Redundancy, repetition, rote. That’s alliteration, something I learned about writing that assists in accentuation.

Writers become better writers by repetition. Start writing and keep writing.

The best way to learn how to post on a horse is start posting.
The best way to learn how to sit deep in the saddle is sit deep in the saddle.
The best way to learn how to ride a dressage test is to ride a dressage test.

Practice, rinse, repeat.

I’m convinced that many adults are reluctant to write because of their introduction to writing in the classroom. You’ll probably agree that the viewpoint of most students is that writing is one more chore of the learning process.

It is painful, stressful and anxiety inducing.

Awkwardness in writing is due to lack of practice and lack of know-how.

Things may have changed since I was in school, but the craft of writing is often overlooked because of obsessive attention to grammar, sentence construction and scholastic writing style.

It just ain’t fun.

Probably because the teachers don’t write well either and they haven’t practiced enough to be good enough to teach writing.

But, you can try it again today by starting over because you have a lot more to say today than you did in sixth grade. A wealth of experience and knowledge about horses, people and life has accumulated in your head.

That wealth is not arranged neatly yet since your brain has a filing system that resembles your bedroom in high school. There is stuff everywhere and it’s not easy to find. But it’s somewhere-floor, closet or dresser.

Your re-introduction to writing will help get that clutter organized in your brain and on paper. After a while, an amazing thing starts to happen. When you speak, you’ll speak with greater clarity than ever before. Your thoughts will come out organized and concise. People will say to you more and more: “Good point, you’re right, I never thought about it that way.”

Start writing today and make a new habit. Clean up your room. You’ll start finding things you lost and things you never knew you had. The world would like to know more about you.

The Anti- Sweatsheet for Professional Horsemen? – Spreadsheets !

You know your specific business expense numbers better than anyone: the cost of hay, bedding, feed, supplements, tack, insurance, fuel, electricity, repairs , labor costs. You can tell anyone, anytime, what you pay for items and services used in your business.

But, can you explain the inter-relationships between your revenue sources like board, lessons and training and your memorized expenses?

For example, what does a 15 % increase in lesson rates and a 5 % reduction in number of students do to your bottom line? What if you add more services to your “standard board rate” with the intent of increasing the rate and hopefully, your profit margin. How much do you raise the rate and what is the increase to the bottom line after the deduction of the increased services?

I love using spreadsheets to help predict the “what if’s” and assist in the decision making process. “By guess and by gosh” business strategy is risky business.

Professional horseman and blogger Julian Ross, the Transylvanian Horseman, makes his case for spreadsheets in his unique horse business as an equestrian guide in Romania. Have a look at Julian’s post about “maintenance” here

For North Americans, the mention of Transylvania may bring up mental images of old black and white horror movies. From the pics on Julian’s blog, this is clearly not the case. Looks to me like a great adventure with beautiful scenery for his equestrian guests.

If You Should Call A Spade A Spade, Why Do You Call A Horse an Equine?

When is it Equine and when is it Horse?

Consider:

  • Equine Studies
  • Equine Massage
  • Equine Veterinary Practitioner
  • Equine Disease
  • Equine Genetics
  • Equine Training Center
  • Equine Behaviorist

They sound important, don’t they?

But what about using equine instead of horse in these expressions:

  • Equine Whisperer
  • Hook up the Equine trailer
  • Let’s go to the Equine Show
  • He’s a thinker; good Equine sense
  • She’s a sharp Equine trader
  • We need a good Equineshoer
  • Sounds like a crock of Equinesh_t.

I don’t get the Equine vs. Horse battle.  And by the way, is it "e-kwine" or "ek-wine" ?

Horse sounds better and can only be pronounced one way.  And that makes good Horse sense.

Why You Should Warm Up To Your Business Day

With my three cups of coffee and the time alloted for my morning warm up period, I came up with the following reasons for warming up and easing into you work day rather than employing the hit the ground running method.

  1. Reduces re entry friction from sleep vacuum to work atmosphere.
  2. Helps focus on the important things for the day.
  3. Helps you forget the trivial matters.
  4. Keeps you balanced.
  5. Allows for a mental shift from relaxed to resourceful.

Big jumps are made much easier by warming up over little jumps first.

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