Perhaps I’ve been living in the country too long to understand some of what goes on in the real world. That’s OK with me. People gossip, yes (everyone knows everyone), but they also extend themselves to neighbors in need with genuine caring, concern and grace. Community members jump up to chip in because they can. It’s done without belittling the receiver. Reciprocity isn’t a concern. All recognize they may be in need some day, but mostly, do it because it feels good to be kind.

novice riders are great learners
Reaching out to novices can be rewarding in more ways than you imagined.

People puzzle me. Those boasting a moral compass with animal interactions can be so cruel with humans. These are usually the same folks who claim to have the only right answer as it pertains to the horse. Actually I imagine their genius extends far beyond the equine realm. Pity the people who have to live with them.

The older I get, it seems, the less I know. Usually, I enjoy the idea of exploring new learning experiences with others, but lately I’ve grown wary of most touting horse advocacy rank. It boggles the mind that some believe bullying forth to enlighten those they purport to support is a good way to sway opinion.

Most good leaders are humble

When I reflect on my best teaches over the decades with equines, they’ve been humble. Most have been quiet, thoughtful leaders changing the world one horse or one human at a time. Have I trained with Olympians and other celebrities? Yes. Are these the people who have made the most significant contributions to my understanding, skill and quality of life? Definitely not.

Memorable influencers are wise and mature – having a deep inner compass that produces followers and fans not because they say they’re great, but because they show they care.

Some of my most treasured mentors achieved incredible credentials and acclaim – something you usually discovered long after connecting with them because they didn’t broadcast qualifications, but rather looked at every day anew based on results. Others drew from hands-on experience and the people who helped them along the way. Both types of professionals (a term I no longer take for granted, nor use lightly) have made a huge difference in my perspectives and accomplishments over the years.

Is there an answer the industry can agree on?

I don’t know what the answer is anymore with horses. When I was young I did. I knew it all. Now I just have more questions. I do wonder about the ironic nature of people’s behavior. It’s scary to watch what’s going on in the horse industry, but hard to be heard over the battle cries of the camp crusaders. It seems most would rather fight than do good as the number of people willing or able to personally support horses continues to wane. We’re already seeing the fallout from this with horses being discarded in growing numbers.

Novice riders have a huge need that’s not being met

Twenty-three years ago I founded Fulcrum Communications at a time when the small business moniker was uttered with disdain by the rest of the industry. Business owner clients are eager learners, smart adapters and willing and happy to pay a fair price for services – provided the investment offers results.

I see a similar phenomenon with novice riders today. Sure, there are products available, but few seasoned horse people willing to reach out to help them get pointed in the right direction where they live. These riders will shape the future experiences of the horses across the world and influence industry movement tomorrow – for good or bad.

Influencing the horse market requires understanding people too

I shake my head when I see people responding to forums, groups, blogs and other online venues where only words are exchanged with absolute conviction on how to handle a horse they haven’t seen in a situation they haven’t witnessed. This approach doesn’t increase credibility, it undermines it. Perhaps some of the time spent attacking others (it’s sad this happens so often when novices ask for help) could be spent helping those in need close to home? I witnessed how the world changes one person at a time as we collaborated to change perceptions and rule making for small businesses in the 80s and 90s. Believe me, it’s a lot more rewarding and effective when you choose to contribute to the world with positive energy.

Reaching out to one local novice not only changes her life, but the experiences of every horse she touches. Plus, the joy you get from the appreciation expressed – not only in words and timely payment, but also through eager application of new approaches – is priceless.

Help your equine business and the industry

Most of the novices I meet are amazing. They love their horses and are willing to invest what they can once they realize they’ve hit a wall. These are rarely wealthy people, but are smart and humble enough to know when they need help. They relish knowledge provided in a way they can process and apply.

If you’re looking for a market that wants your help, consider how you can customize what you offer to reach these riders. You’ll not only help your local community, but also provide a service that helps the horse industry evolve with sound perspective you can share and teach.

This ready market tends to be active social media participants, even if they’re just lurkers. Be careful about joining a frenzy that’s caustic. You’re likely to not only loose prospects ready to consider client status, but also industry leaders no longer willing to be referral agents for you. Nobody likes a bully. There’s a big difference between passion and arrogance. Lean toward the former and you’ll likely grow your business. Take the latter position and you’ll deserve the business failure you achieve.

If you really care about horses, consider reaching out to novices in ways they can understand, afford and appreciate. The gratefulness they show provides a super example for more seasoned equestrians to emulate. You’ll be amazed how much you can learn from these special people.

Maybe the answer is as simple as that.

15 Responses

  1. Nanette, you bring up some excellent points. We can all look back and recall those in our past who have encouraged us and helped shape our future. Providing someone with guidance that leads to their success is an accomplishment to be proud of.

    1. Thanks for stopping in and commenting, Carol. Yes, those altruistic mentors are people we remember for the rest of our lives, aren’t they? It’s funny, I remember paid providers with the same fondness I do those who volunteered their time when they were people able to reach me in a way that literally changed my life. I think it’s more about how you care and share than the cost.

  2. US Pony Club recently added an adult eduction program called Horsemasters that provides a good option for novices seeking local help and support. The chapter in my area hosts regular mounted meetings that include basic lessons donated by local trainers, and introduction to a variety of horse sports. Unfortunately as a volunteer effort without much of a marketing budget, getting the word out to those new to horses is sometimes challenging.

    1. I heard something recently about this US Pony Club initiative, Helen. It’s a great idea. I’ll have to schedule some time to give KY a call to see where they are with this – and determine if there’s a way I may be able to help.

  3. Everyone starts at the beginning no matter what, and if not for the kindness and expertise of others would stay there. As a professional I like to think of it this way: If you aren’t a good example, you may well be a horrible warning. I consider myself to be a steward and ambassador for the horse industry and proposed A Horse Professionals Code of Conduct several years ago. Have a read here: and I think you’ll find some ideas to carry you above the fray. We need novices and should cherish them – they are tomorrow’s professionals!

    1. This is a great document, Lisa. Has anyone run with the ideas you put forth in the past nine years? I could see this type of thinking making a huge difference for the people and the horses in the industry.

  4. Thanks for this Nanette. With so many people reaching the time of their lives where they have discretionary income and the time to enjoy it, that is a good market to tap – those people who always wanted a horse but couldn’t have one until they were older. They usually appreciate good information, too. Several of these folks are also entering the equine assisted field and would love to learn more about horses.

    1. Yes, it’s interesting how much the demographics have changed in the industry, isn’t it, Pam? I’m seeing a lot of mature adult novices, but also a good number of horse owners in their twenties that may have been riding for a while, but never received any instruction or guidance on horse training. Regardless, the need seems to be more pronounced with adults than kids (there are existing programs available for the younger ones). You make a good point about those volunteer and new career choices needing help with learning. I hadn’t really considered the equine assisted field as something novices would try to enter, but I get it.

  5. Right on! Can’t think of a single thing to add but glad you put it out there. Too bad about the hero worship of celebrity trainers–only a few really address the partnership of both horse and rider. And the novice has no way of knowing or evaluating the trainer’s worth or lack thereof.

    1. Good to see you here again, Alli. Yes, hero worship is curious. What I find more confounding is those that hang a shingle as horse advocate (whatever their practice or cause is), respond to everyone who doesn’t agree with them with nastiness and then complain they can’t sustain their business or gain support because everyone is a horse hater. Hmmmm

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Orville. Yes – I see a lot of limpers out there pointing blame everywhere except at the finger that pulled the trigger. Too funny.

  6. Hi Nanette,

    I’m glad to know from your blog how much you care the horses by giving some points from your experiences. You exactly mentioned that the good leaders are humble. It is really true! The good influencers like what you said are wise and mature of showing humbleness in their good care. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Great blog Nanette. You have just said the truth. I agree that the scenario has changed but then too event today, there are horse riders who love their horses and take utmost care of them. I too am riding horses from last 10 years and its my passion. I live my passion by taking care of my horse and using quality accessories for my horse from a quality store like Hastbiten. I do agree with you that it’s a lot more rewarding and effective when you choose to contribute to the world with positive energy.

    1. Thanks for stopping in Kristina, and leaving a comment. I put more focus on connecting with the horse (or human – to help them understand what the horse is trying to tell them) than the accessories I use (guilty of going a bit on the cheap here), but each has a style that works best for them. I appreciate your interest and perspective.

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