When we opened our boarding business years ago a new kind of fear came over me that I had not ever experienced before. Over night I became the barn owner, manager and care taker of forty horses at our farm and with that came a huge responsibility. I was so excited about my new career but I immediately started putting pressure on myself to know everything there was to know about horses and I wanted to look very educated in my boarders eyes.
Now years later I realize that many new equine professionals go through this and some never get out of it. I am here to say you don't need to know everything there is to know about horses. I do believe if you are going to take on owning and running a horse business than you had better know some good common sense horse care and have some years of experience behind you but it is impossible to know absolutely everything about horses.
I have seen many people make many mistakes when it comes to horse care especially when it comes to a sick or injured horse. I have seen horse professionals give a wrong diagnosis on a lameness issue or illness and they were not a veterinarian to begin with. I have seen horses end up with more issues to a wound or cut because someone knew it all and didn't want a second opinion. I have seen trainers make a wrong call on horse behavior and once that horse finally went to a different trainer that understood the behavior the issues started to disappear. It happens in every part of the equine industry and the horse is the one that pays the price.
Knowing it all can hurt your horse business.
I truly believe it is okay to not have all the answers. When you come across an issue with a horse and you don't know what the problem is, it is far better to be honest with your client and get a second or third opinion. I get asked questions all the time about cuts and wounds and there are still times when I think the boarder needs to call the vet to look at it and make a diagnosis from there. As the years have gone by I have definitely learned so much about horses and horse care under all situations but now I am not afraid to tell a client when I don't know the answer to their question.
I believe barn owners, managers and trainers get themselves in trouble when they act like they know it all and then they give a wrong diagnosis and it causes more problems. When that happens you have just lost the trust of your client and it is bad for business. People don't forget when you make a mistake that has negative results with their horse. If you are not a hundred percent sure then tell them that. All it takes is one bad call to really hurt your business. I have seen that happen throughout the years and it will ruin your reputation.
The reverse effect...
I have also found that if you are honest with your clients when you don't have an answer they will come to you more often because they will trust in you. When you do have an answer to their question they will listen and know that what you are telling them is for the best interest of their horse. It is good for business and healthy for the relationship between you and your clients.
You are going to learn so much and your learning curve is going to go through the roof the longer you are in the business. Take each question that you are asked and learn from them. Some you will know the answer to and some you won't. Don't do what I did when I first started and put all this pressure on yourself to know it all and have every answer to every issue at your barn. It is a terrible way to run a business and the stress will wear you down.
It was so freeing when I learned to say, "I don't know the answer but together we can find out." Once you get to that point you will start to really grow inside as a horse professional and your job will become so much easier. And remember that your clients will love and respect your honesty above all else!
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are just starting out in your planning stages of your horse business or need some help now that you are in it, I would like to encourage you to check out my two books. My first book, "What it really takes to start and run a horse business" is my families journey of starting our horse boarding business and about learning from our mistakes especially during the first couple of years. My second book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover," is about the relationship between the barn owner/barn manager and client and how to resolve the issues that will come up when you are running a horse business of any kind. These books will take you deep inside the equine business world and will inspire and give you the tools to get through those tough days and situations. You won't find more honest books out there about running a horse business.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business,