GoHorseShow recently did a highly successful article with trainers, exhibitors, and breeders about the smartest decision they ever made in the horse industry. In the second part of our series, we turned the question around and asked many of the same people what was the biggest mistake and or regret they made in the horse industry and what they learned from the experience. There was some honest and surprisingly candid comments. Check them out below!
Charlie Cole--Early on--15 to 20 years ago, I made some decisions with my horses that hurt my integrity and reputation. I took full responsibility for these decisions and never repeated them. My integrity and reputation are more important than any win and the horses' care and well being are priority number one for me.
Sid Griffith--The biggest mistake or regret that I have in the horse business is that I started drinking. The culture in our business is sadly such that drinking is an acceptable behavior on the job and socially important for many. I wonder how many of us looked around at the people (especially underage) that we are influencing through these actions and felt any sense of accountability? Drinking certainly negatively effected my ability perform at my best for many years.
Kelley Roberts--Our biggest regrets would have to be not taking more time out for family. This business takes a lot of our lives and we missed some weddings, funerals, and family functions. In looking back, we wish we would have taken the time to attend. You never get those things back.
Cheryl Hawkins--The biggest mistake I have made is not to sell a horse when someone wanted to buy it because sometimes when you want to sell a horse down the road it's a lot harder. So, I have had to learned to sell them when someone is interested--which has been a little hard on Megan (my daughter) since she has always had to sell her horses. I would never change my career, I love everything about the horse industry, if you love what you are doing, you never work a day in your life.
Garth Gooding--My biggest mistake would be buying a horse for a lot of money that I'd never seen shown. I've learned a couple things from this: 1) the obvious try to watch a horse show and how it's prepared at the show 2) establish a network of people you trust to do business with.
Holly Hover--I am thankful that mistakes for me have never become regrets-rather good, solid lessons on improving and growing both personally and professionally. Certainly, there have been many missteps....the one that comes to mind happened earlier in my career. I had realized some good success with a few horse/rider combinations and really believed that I had fashioned the magic formula on creating the winning team. As others came to me for help, I tried to mash them into the same mold that had worked so well before. It was several years of frustrated riders and so-so results that drove home a very big lesson. What is unique in a rider and what is special in a horse is never the same from team to team. It was not my place to mass produce the same product. It can't be done. What I had found in those first two girls was special and unique to them only. It was my job to do the same for all riders, all horses...to help them fine tune their strengths and realize their own success.
Lainie DeBoer--I think the biggest mistake that I made early in my career is that I took as many clients as I could. I thought the more clients I had at the shows the more successful I would look as a trainer. Little did I know that there is only so much of me and so many hours in the day. Although I had a huge business, I was miserable, and I did not do my best because I was always completely overwhelmed. What I learned from it was quality control. I needed to just keep a manageable number of clients and horses and find a balance to my business. With the help of a life coach and the support of my family, I dismantled my whole barn and started over from scratch. I added, very slowly, the people that fit into my way of doing things and kept it at a manageable number. Since I made that decision I enjoy my job, I am more successful, I have more energy, and I have maintained a healthy home life.
Jennifer Thompson--The worst mistake I ever made in the horse business was a very difficult thing to do. I had a very sweet youth girl that rode with me since she was 11 years old. Her last year at the Youth World, her mom told me to sell her horse and not let the girl know--it would upset her. Needles to say, she made the finals in the pleasure and the minute she came out of the arena, the new owners ran up to her and hugged her horse and thanked her for doing such a great job on their new horse. I will never forget the look on the girl's face. It tore me up. What should have been a beautiful, exciting moment, turned out to break two hearts. I have had parents since then, ask me to keep it from their kids until after the fact. My answer is, "You need to tell them or I will." Lesson learned.
Jerry Erickson--I am unsure if my worst decision will make sense because the decision did result in a positive advancement in my career. In the fall of 1981 through the winter of 1982, I worked for Tamara and Pete Kyle in Cave Creek, Arizona. Prior to that, I was local Wisconsin trainer trying to learn as I went but really had no true background. I learned so much that winter--prior to going to Arizona I had never changed a lead on a horse! In March of 1982, Jack Finney from Texas offered me a job and I left Arizona and moved to Texas. Despite all the positives of working for Mr. Finney, I still think that had I stayed with the Kyle's I would have been a much better trainer. I had learned so much in the six months I was in Arizona and always regret not staying and absorbing more that was available.
Jenna Dempze--My biggest regret/mistake would be not doing good research when buying horses or choosing trainers in the beginning. I think a lot of people make these mistakes because they are excited or impatient. I know now how important it is to do your homework and have family discussions on what your goals are and then choose accordingly. Horses are a big investment in both time and money and for most people are a fun hobby; your horse and trainer choices should keep all those things in mind.
Brent and Julie Harnish--Sending our stallions away from the farm to stand for a year. When we planned and built a business in our back door to care for and stand our stallions, it is difficult to let them go somewhere. While our decision was based on changes to the breeding industry, it was not a decision that worked for us. Much of breeding is relationship building and not being able to talk to the mare owners and sometimes provide them 911 service was not what we stood for as managers/owners of stallions. Not having the stallions at home meant a lower conception rate of our farm mares and therefore a serious loss of revenue. Not seeing or touching them every day provided a disconnect in what we expect in customer service. It was truly a case for us to do it yourself or don’t do it at all. A large part of the horse business is centered on the owners, take that out of it and it fails. It also gave us a perspective of what it is like for our clients at the barn in training. They give us their horses to make their dreams come true, they like information, they like updates, they like to be a part of what is going on with their horse. Makes us see things differently now.
Debbi Trubee--My biggest regret was not spending more time with my family. The demands of running a successful horse business are 24/7. Now that family members have passed; it's clear to me what should have mattered.
Reid Thomas--My biggest regret? Not trusting my gut on a sick horse and to never underestimate my sixth sense! I made a promise to myself...never wait around on a colicing horse!
Noelle Schmidt--The biggest regret I have in the horse industry is that my son, Kyle, had a bad horse accident when he was little, and that experience turned him off from showing horses. I would have really enjoyed seeing him grow up loving horses the way I do.
Tim Kimura--Biggest regret not following advice from Dr. John Pipkin and get my AQHA Judges card... I used to judge many AHSA open shows and NRCHA shows, and I miss doing that. But where would I fit those jobs in my full calendar?
Diane Chilton-Harper--Selling Hotroddin Ona Harley one day before I got to show him at NSBA World. I need to seize those show experiences and opportunities. I'm almost 60 and that was three years ago and I haven't had an NSBA horse ready since. You need to do it while you still can!
Missy Thyfault--I do believe that the choices you make lead you to the point where you are. We all make good choices and unfortunately we make some bad ones too. I am going to talk about a couple of regrets because my choices that were not so smart taught me some valuable lessons. I had decided to send home a colt because it couldn't handle pressure on its face at all. I kept it long enough to lope around both directions outside and had it going home to hopefully mentally mature. For some reason, I decided to ride it one more time even though the customer knew the situation fully and was fine with taking it home. I only remember it not wanting to guide and my attempting to guide it and then forget the rest. It had taken off with me and I woke up in the cat scan machine regretting that I had ridden it one last unnecessary time. Trusting your gut and knowing that some horses just have that really bad spot mentally that may not go away was a hard lesson to learn. I ended up breaking some bones in my ankle, jaw, nose, and eye socket to learn to trust what I already know. Lesson learned.
Sheri Robinson-Kern--One specific mistake...listening to people tell me as a woman I would never make it as a breeder and I could not breed my own to compete and win. But, my smartest decision was eventually listening to my gut and trying anyway with great success.