Helping you be successful in your barn and business!
Christmas is only a few days away and again I am running behind on shopping for gifts and sending cards. The weather here in Wisconsin has not been kind the last couple of weeks and we have had painfully cold temperatures. It is the kind of cold that hurts to be out in and feeding horses and cleaning stalls is something that still needs to be done but often the joy has been replaced with frustration and exhaustion and survival! Now I know I am exaggerating about the survival part but when you are working in it, that is at times how it feels. The extreme cold temperatures will wear me out unlike any other time of year when I am working in the barn. With that said nothing else gets done for a few hours after I get back in the house. I thaw out a bit and many days (okay, almost everyday I need to lay down for bit) which drives my kids crazy!
This is a subject that I believe most equine professionals will experience sometime in their career. It is probably one of the most difficult areas to talk about because if you have ever experienced a friendship gone sour because of a business decision it will hurt unlike any other pain you have felt before.
The horse industry is unique in so many ways. Many people who run their own barns also live on the property and so the only people they come in contact with daily are their clients. Your world can become extremely small is you let it and it happens often to many barn owners. It seems only natural to want to become friends with your boarders and because you both love horses it seems like a perfect match.
I now believe in order to have a solid and healthy friendship with a client you really need to both understand the boundaries. After all the barn owner is still running a business and the boarder/friend is still paying the board each month. It may sound simple but I will give you a few examples of how things can go south quickly if you both are not careful.
Starting a horse business was not supposed to be this way! I don't feel respected in my own barn and I don't even know who I am anymore. Why didn't I just say no? When did I become so crabby...I used to be fun! Crying seems to be part of my life these days. My husband and I don't talk anymore and I never see my kids unless they come out to the barn. I can't seem to find a balance in all of it. Can I do this? Do I know enough to do this? Have you said some of these things to yourself? If you have then I believe you are pretty normal!
I have had the privilege of talking with so many women from all over the country and I now realize that most women experience these same thoughts, feelings and struggles sometime during their business career. They have this passion and love for horses and turn it into a career but the career became much more challenging in so many ways. Becoming a professional horsewoman and making a living in the horse industry is a dream come true for many women but it can wear you down and burn you out easily if you are not prepared. I know this from first-hand experience. Not only is it a very physical and mental career but it is so unique in itself because you are working with horses that need care seven days a week, every day of the year. Then you add in the clients and you have a career that will have its own unique set of circumstances and rules.
Tugging at my heart
Over the last two years, my heart has been leading me to write my new book, "One Horsewoman to Another." I knew it was going to be emotional for me but I also wanted it to be a book about perseverance, courage and hope for the woman that you are and the equine professional inside of you. This book is unlike any book you will ever read in the horse world. This book is for you ladies. It was written to encourage you and have you reach deep inside yourself to find out what is really important in life and your horse business. It is about the journey we all take as businesswomen and equine professionals and finding out what works best for you and gaining confidence through all of it.
Remember that you are a woman with so much to offer. You give depth to business ownership that will make your business incredibly special. Don't underestimate all that you bring to your barn and the horses and clients in your care.
This book was written because I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to be successful in your horse business but not if it means losing yourself or all that is important to you in the process. I believe as women, we can have it all but we just need to find a balance in all of it.
My new book, "One Horsewoman to Another," has just been published and I encourage you to get a copy. This book will uplift you and get you to start looking at yourself in a new way. You are on an incredible journey and you are incredible for even taking a chance. Today I celebrate the horsewoman you have become! Christmas is right around the corner...Give the gift of encouragement this year to the horsewoman in your life.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,
It is early Sunday morning and the house is quiet except for me making my coffee. This is my favorite time to write and my head always seems to be the most clear before the day begins. Morning chores come early and soon I will hear the nickers of many horses anxiously waiting for me to feed them.
I have had the pleasure of talking with so many women from all over the country who are starting out in their horse business or have been in it for a while. Throughout all the conversations there has been one common theme. Each one of these wonderful people got into this business with a dream and passion and now were struggling in many different areas of their business and it was much harder than they ever expected. My heart broke for each of them and I could feel their pain completely because I have walked in their shoes and it is a difficult place to be.
We had our first snow early this morning and the wind was howling! My husband David is gone hunting, so I was on my own doing chores at five in the morning until my wonderful team came a little bit later. I love the early mornings because it is so quiet and it is just me and the horses. It gives me time to think about all the things that are going on in my life, and with that usually comes some soul searching. This was a morning of putting on blankets and making sure every one was warm enough since the weather went from the sixties yesterday to thirty degrees this morning! Yikes...it was cold!
As I was doing chores, I looked down at the layers of clothes I put on and started to laugh. Here we go again I said to myself, feeling less than glamorous. If you live in an area that has all four seasons and snow is a big part of the winter months, then I would imagine you have said those same words to yourself when the first snowfall comes and you have to to go out in it. What a lifestyle and what a life! Then I realized that I am doing what I love. Yes, doing early morning chores is not always easy and for women, we will feel less than pretty often when we have to rush out of the house to do chores or take care of a sick or injured horse when the weather is frightful. That is all part of being a horsewoman and I wouldn't change any of it...okay maybe less snow and freezing temps up here in Wisconsin.
Ladies if you are needing a little pick me up and feeling like you are the only one out in the morning in all kinds of weather doing chores, I want you to know you are not alone. If you feel like you are overwhelmed and your horse business is getting the best of you...stop and breathe. After the chores are done and the barn clothes are laying in a pile for the next shift, grab a cup of hot cocoa or coffee and a book that will encourage and inspire you.
Please check out my brand new book, "One Horsewoman to Another." This book is about becoming a professional horsewoman while you take care of everyone else. It is about finding yourself again even when life gets crazy. Today I celebrate the businesswoman, wife, mother and professional horsewoman that so many of you have chosen to be.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business.
Starting a horse business is a dream come true for so many women but it is truly a difficult business to get up and going. I love talking with other women about their barns, horses and their plans to make it all happen. Along the journey of building your barn or starting your training program there are always going to be bumps in the road. That is the time you need to know you are not alone. It may hit two months into your business or two years down the road but at some time you will find yourself second guessing so many things about your life and the horse business you started.
If David and I did what makes sense to most people we would have started our boarding business years before we decided to have children. That way we would have had time on our side to get the business up and going the first few years without the added pressure of taking care of our two daughters. I am sure it didn't make sense to leave jobs in search of the chance to work at home with all the risk involved but we did what was on our hearts at the time and along with our two very young girls we built Vinland Stables.
If you want to board horses for a living or are already boarding horses then I encourage you to check out a website that is unlike any others when it comes to horse barn management. Pro Barn Management was created because when I opened Vinland Stables many years ago, I didn't know who to turn to when I started having problems with our business. And let me start of by saying that my issues were not with the horses and in fact the horses were the easiest part of my day.
This website is not going to tell you how much hay to feed or what type of hay is best for the horses at your barn. It is not going to give you tips on blanketing and what type of blankets to buy. This website is not about how to take care of horses. After all if you are thinking of opening a boarding barn or have done so already then there is a good chance you know how to take care of horses.
This website is all about discussing the difficult and very real issues that plague every barn (If allowed) and how to take control of them. These difficult issues that every barn owner will face can tear apart your barn and business quickly and it has happened to many boarding barns throughout the country and world. People are people no matter where you live and we all still deal with the same issues. It is about the decisions you will make for your barn and how it will affect your boarders and you as the barn owner. This website is about so much more.
When you choose to start a horse business and you live on the same property as the barn, things can get a little crazy especially when your home is only a few hundred feet from the business. How do you keep from bringing the stress of the day into the safe-haven of your home and family. This was something that I needed to figure out and it took me several years to learn how to separate the two and have my family and private time. Does the work ever truly go away? No it never does but you learn to manage both and boundaries are a huge part of making it work.
Today's post is about finding some of the tools needed to run your business efficiently but also equally important learning to turn it off when you can and free your family and yourself from the constant talk and even emotion of it all. If you don't learn to separate yourself from it all even for a little bit each and every day it will wear you down so fast and you will never see it coming.
Having your own horse boarding business and also a rather large business mortgage can put the stress meter on high if you start to worry about all that could go wrong. When we first opened our business I really had not processed the amount of money we owed and it didn’t hit me until about a year after we were open. Then the pressure started to rise after I began to understand how strapped for money we were. It is a funny thing about money; it can cause people to do things that they normally would not do. If we are not careful we can make bad decisions because of money.
The pressure of having a large mortgage put stress on me to keep the stalls full. Early on when I was giving tours to possible clients I wanted to make our barn sounded like the perfect place to be. No matter what type of horse and riding you did, I had a way of making it sound like this was the barn for you. I wasn’t lying but I believed that we could work out everything to accommodate every rider and their riding discipline of choice.
I have grown a lot thank goodness from those early years and now I know that is not a good way to run a barn. Our barn is wonderful for almost all types of disciplines but our arena footing is not the best for speed horses or reining horses. I have since learned to be much more honest to people and I have learned to trust God that the right boarders will come and they always have. Once your barn becomes established and you have a good reputation the word will spread. Horse people talk and they will talk about the good and the bad and also about what type of barn you have. I truly embrace that people talk and it has been good for our business.
Sometimes we need to slow down and pray and trust God. It is as simple as that. Doing a good job and taking good care of horses in your care is what all boarders want. When you run your barn with a servant’s heart watch the wonderful things that will happen. The right boarders will come and they will see the difference in how you run your barn.
Keep God close and go to him first when you start to panic about your business. He will get you through it. His love never fails.
Psalm 84:12 NIV
O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
Today post is an excerpt from my daily devotional, "Caring for horses with a Servant's heart." I want to wish you many blessings from my barn to yours.