As much as I love the riding and training side of the horse business, I don't love the business side of it. Recently, I have been giving my business an overhaul. I'm looking into better ways to stay organized, I have been putting a lot of effort into the webpage, pictures, and videos of each horse.
The only problem with all of this, is that there aren't enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do. Yesterday I actually ended up blowing off riding completely! Granted, there was also a storm that kept threatening to dump much needed rain, but in the end, the storm was a no show.
I am definitely not a computer geek. I wish I was! I have been putting in the effort to learn though. Because Jae and I couldn't manage to work together to make a website (my vision was clear to me, but not so clear when I tried to describe it to him) I am now in "charge" of it. He's wonderful though, and every time I have a question or issue, he jumps in to help.
One thing I have realized, is that every one's idea of what they want to see from a horse farm website is very different. Of course you want to see the sales horses, but how much? Videos are a granted, but of what? How much do you even care about why I chose the breeds I did? Since my breeds aren't well known, how much do you want to know about them, or is a link to the registry enough?
All of these things I have to think about, and manage to fit in a relatively compact design. It's not easy.
Then there's marketing. Dreamhorse.com, agdirect.com, horsefinder, horseclicks, equinenow.... the list goes on. And as always, there's the local fliers (gah, still need to make those!) and the myriad of other ways to market a horse. Of course, the horse market isn't in the best shape either, which makes it even harder! I try hard to run my horse business like any other business. Lucky for me, Jae has small business experience, granted, it's from Canada, but running a business is pretty much the same all over. I have my business plan written, I have my records sorted out, and I'm always behind on paperwork somewhere.
While working on the latest version of my website, I realized that I do not have decent pictures of 2 horses! One of them is Katy, who is currently lame. The other is Princessa, who I can easily grab pictures of, and will just as soon as I finish lunch. I have 15 horses on the sales list right now - not all are actively being marketed. From being too young, too injured, to horses I'm not sure I'm really wanting to sell, there are many that I forgot to get 2010 updates on. Not too big of a deal on a mature horse, but when you're talking about a yearling, last year's pictures won't do!
A "simple" photo shoot takes about 4 hours. To do it right, the horse must be groomed, trimmed, clipped, have its mane pulled, skin oiled, hooves polished, and such. I prepare my sale horses for a photo shoot similar to what I would for a show. This also means that I can't wait until the last minute to see if the horse cares about things like clippers, or having its head washed. Those white blazes show a lot of dirt! Also, if the horses are kept in top grooming on a regular basis, then preparing for a photo shoot is much easier. Daily brushing keeps the hair shiny and the mane and tail tamed. It's a horrible mistake to do serious clipping on the day pictures are taken, the clipper marks aren't attractive.
Another side of business that is often overlooked in the horse industry is a business plan. I need to update mine. I have made a few changes in my program because of the economy, such as deciding to downsize and stop breeding, as well as inheriting an additional stallion, and my business plan should reflect this. That silly little document that takes so long to do is worth its weight in gold. I thought it would be such a waste of time, but after having one, I realize that it's as important as my DBA.
My problem with all this, is that I really focus on what's in front of me until I'm finished. Paper work is never finished, so I can easily lose most of a day. It's always a balance between spending enough time in the saddle and spending enough time keeping up on my records. So for now, I am stepping away from the computer, and getting outside where I want to be!
A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses
I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.