Shared from The Drama Free Equestrian:
Lessons learned long and hard in the horse business as a professional..
1. It's easy to fall in love with your customers, they become a family who you spend a lot of time with. However, in the end they will do what's best for themselves, and for you and them those paths may not be the same, prepare to get your heart broken, keep business and personal relationships separate.
2. People will not always trust in your experience and will second guess you, they will think they k ow better because they read it in a book, or saw it online. Don't try to be all things to all people, do what you are good at, and run your barn in a way that you can sleep at night knowing that you did right in your mind by them and their horses. The clients opinion of that may be different of that then your beliefs, but you have to live with choices that leave you at peace. That may mean confrontation, hard conversations and even asking people to move on for your own peace.
3. Horses are easy 99% of the time, it's the people who come with them that make things complicated.
4. Remember that horses need to be horses.
5. People will always judge you, and have opinions, the better you are , the more haters will have opinions.
6. Success isn't measured by ribbons and show placings, it's measured in happy animals and quality of their lives.
7. There is always an exception or quirk that doesn't " follow the rules" in horse care. Do what works, not what the " books" say works.
8. When you get annoyed by seeing somebody's car pull in to the barn, it's time to let that person move on, your barn should be a happy place. It literally only takes one bad sour apple to ruin the whole atmosphere and dynamic in a barn.
9. Let it go.... if someone moves on don't be upset by it, ignore what they say, don't take it personally, every barn is not a good fit for every person.
10. This is a business, if a person or horse isn't working for you , or the compensation isn't offsetting your cost, it's time for them to go, the exception to this is your retired horses, see #11.
11. Horses only have so many jumps, so many runs, so many rides on each horse. Dont waste your horses. Teach your students they arent machines. You owe it to your retired horses to have a safe , comfortable and dignified end. Your schoolies worked for you, when the time comes they can no longer do that, either give them a pleasant retirement, or put them in the ground where you know they are safe. Do not dump them at auctions or onto other people where you are not 100% sure that they will be cared for.
12. There is no shame in euthanasia for a horse owner, always better a week to early then a second too late. Do not judge anyone for their reasons for doing this.
13. Most clients fall Into two categories, those who are " high maintenance ", and open in their opinions and will confront situations head on. The second is the quiet type who will not say a word and will not openly talk with you about their expectations or issues , and you have no idea they have a problem until it's too late. The people in between these two are the clients you want and will be long term and make life easy.
14. Know your worth. KNOW YOUR WORTH.your time and experience has a monetary value, don't do things for free, even if you like the person , every bit of time or effort you give to clients has value, so when you don't value your effort, neither will a client and they will come to expect " freebies" which always leads to resentment from someone.
15. Be honest, it's not always easy, but in this business it takes forever to build reputation and seconds to destroy it. Remember horses are Dangerous, always use your best judgment and air on the side of caution when working with horses and students. Their lives, your own life can change in an instant.
16. Get paid up front. Keep good records.People don't go to the grocery store and ask for food they will pay for next week. Good business practices keep everyone honest and sets boundaries for clients.
18. Normalize passing on price increases. Service industries , especially ones like ours always "feel guilty " when raising prices, you are not there to subsidize someone else's horse habit, prices have been going up on costs , so should your fees.
19. The buck stops with you. Your employees mistakes fall back to your responsibility. Always verify and check on important care aspects of daily activities.
20. Make time for family and rest. Too may of us get burnt out from the stress of expectations in this industry. In the end , boarders, students come and go, your family is who you will have left.
Thanks for reading my thoughts, I hope it can help support some of you feeling burn out and maybe help some people who are starting out in their journey into this industry.