First Horse Show at Newstead Equestrian Center

Newstead equestrian center

I visited Dave Howard of Newstead Equestrian Center in Newstead, NY yesterday and learned about his first horse show planned for July 18th, 2009.

Dave is a "detail guy" and he works hard at developing his relatively new business.  He handed me a color horse show prize list and  showed me the terrific looking ribbons from Hodges Badge Company .  Nice to see the energy and effort put forth to create an enjoyable show for the local community!  And what a great way to promote the facility for boarding, lessons and training,

Social Networking for Professional Horsemen

For those who are working with horses for a living, discretionary time for distraction is as scarce as a shade tree at a horse show.  Social networking via your computer keyboard may be a distraction for some, however it is clear to me that it's a good investment of precious time for making acquaintenances that you'd never (ever) make without it.

Twitter has been an excellent tool for me, as well as Linked-in.  Facebook is not the right tool for me and I've dropped my account.

It seems the magic of social networking is the ability to cut through tradition,stuffy etiquette, shyness and awkwardness with its click your way to instant gratification.

Twitter's 140 ch. rule is brilliant.  Say it succinctly  quick and close the gate.  Thought captured; instantly available for others.  Get back to work.

The speed of twitter news is lightning-like.  As a medium for communication, its possibilities are staggering.

Less newspaper reading, less TV, less radio.  Instant gratification for news for specialty areas like horses and agriculture.

see you on twitter!   @DougEmerson

Change Is Uncomfortable

"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." – Andy Warhol

Change doesn't come easily in the art business or the horse business; everyone is a critic. In an industry built on tradition, ideas for doing things differently take much effort to put into practice.

One of the reasons professional horsemen are reluctant to make changes in their businesses is that some changes just "don't feel right." They are uncomfortable and go against the grain of what we have become accustomed to and are comfortable with doing.

For example, as a youth I learned to ride in a western saddle. Over time, the contact points of my body with the saddle became my points of reference for posture and balance. It all "felt right" every time I sat in the saddle.

Later, my first experiences riding in an English hunt seat saddle made feel awkward, out of balance and generally uncomfortable. My traditional frame of reference had been altered and I was in the "uncomfortable zone". With practice, I managed to regain my composure and balance and the new saddle started feeling better every time I rode in it.

I have not ridden in a western saddle in a number of years and I know with such a long time away from it, riding in a western saddle would not feel "right" the first time I sat in it.

My point is familiarity creates comfort and the natural human tendency is to be comfortable. Being comfortable means trading off potentially better results for the privilege of being comfortable.

In your horse business do you:

  • Tolerate employees who don't have the skills to carry out the tasks required of them because they have been around a long time, are friendly with clients and have no other place to work?
  • Resist delegating business tasks like, filing, scheduling or bookkeeping because you have become comfortable with the notion that these activities are your job?
  • Avoid discussions with boarders about their horse's bad manners or their own unacceptable behavior at the farm?

Making a business decision to act on the types of things listed above is never easy. At first, moving from a comfort zone to potentially stressful situations might feel like you have put your boots on backwards just to make sure it will hurt.

But, you will soon find out that a better analogy is that changes in your business are more like sitting in a strange saddle for the first time. It feels uncomfortable, you're out of balance and have to question again why you are doing this.

Amazingly, in time, the deliberate business changes you make become as comfortable as your favorite saddle and will result in a much more comfortable ride.

Major Horse Shows Feeling the Pinch of Slow Economy

Richard Feldman, Chairman of the Lake Placid Horse Show Assn. reports entries are off about 8% this year.  The Lake Placid, NY Show, a long running competition, will still attract plenty of horses, exhibitors and spectators this year.  Full story here:

Many shows are reporting reduced numbers for this show season.  It's all part of the economic cycle; horse showing isn't going away.  However, show organizers are challenged to do the best possible job attracting people and horses to their shows this year and set the stage for next year.

The Customer Is Always Right-Except When He’s Not

 "The customer is always right" is a non confrontational policy that has its merits for avoiding argument.  The policy is the foundation for countless customer service policies.

But, what about the customer who finds fault with everything-even the good stuff? 

Allowing the chronic complainer remain in your boarding barn, your lesson program, or as a client with a horse in training isn't worth it to you, your other customers or your employees.

Some people just need to be told to move on because they don't fit in your program. 


Here is a link to a well written blog post on this subject of "firing customers" by Alex Kjerulf: Connects Professional Horsemen and Equine Brands Electronically

Sponsorbarn-beta went live last week providing a much needed service to help horse related and other popular brands connect easily through the sponsorbarn site.

Manufacturers and service providers searching for the right professional horsemen and horsewomen to represent their brands in the competition arenas, in the clinician's round pen and everywhere horse enthusiasts are, now have an alternative to having a person or department responsible for coordinating sponsorship.

SponsorBarn makes it easy for horsemen and sponsors to meet electronically and create relationships.

Mike Schwiebert of SponsorBarn told me that sponsorships can be simple and easy to put together.  A sponsored professional horsemen may agree to wear his or her sponsor's logo on a patch sewn to clothing in exchange for product discounts. Not every sponsorship has to be a million dollar deal.

This is an excellent idea for promoting products directly to the market.  Yes, you can criticize the idea for being too much like NASCAR drivers' suits, crass and commercial, but personal product promotion is nothing new. 

You are already personally promoting products for free unless you cut the patches off your Levis' or black- out the the Nike swoosh off your apparel.

I put my own profile up, too.  I'm looking for sponsorship to present a multi city tour of business workshops for professional horsemen. Considering the cost of travel, lodging and time away from home for professional horsemen, I can achieve my goal of helping 10,000 professional horsemen become profitable horsemen in the next ten years by travelling to them.  Promoting quality products and services along the way is no problem for me if it helps me reach my goal.