Thursday, August 20, 2009

The True Measure of Success.....In the horse business

There is a saying in the horse business, 'the only way to make 10 million dollars in the horse business, is to start with 20 million dollars when you get into it'

The question keeps coming up and that is how do you measure a the success as horse trainer or how can you actually measure a persons success?

I think that the real answer to that question has become so skewed in today's society.

We seem to measure peoples success by the size of their bank accounts and how many assets that they own. In the last thread, I mentioned that I own my own facility and that is why I chose to set up my business the way that I did. And that seemed to open up a whole new debate.

The reason that I chose to own my own place is because that has always been my dream. I wanted to have a place where I could train horses and not deal with the bullshit that goes along with leasing barns. But there are days that I wish I did not own my own place, those are the days when the water lines break or the fence is falling down. The days when I look outside and see that I have to take care of the weeds that have gotten out of hand and I can not ride horses that day because of the overwhelming maintenance that has to be done. All at my expense!

The days when we want to take the girls to see grandma and grandpa for a weekend visit but we can't because we have to stay here and take care of the animals. Yes, those are the days that I wish we leased a barn.

When I lived in Flagstaff, I leased a barn and had 33 head in training,an assistant trainer/groom that helped me out. I lived in an apartment and always had money. But I still wanted a place to call my own.

Another way that we tend to measure success in this industry, is how many blue ribbons we win.

The only problem with that is that the color of the ribbons fade, and when they fade we lose sight of what is really important, and that is what did we learn and what memories did we take away from the experience.

Why do we teach our children these skewed values. I do love to win like everyone else, but I love the memories from the classes that I did not win. We need to teach our children that losing is OK.

So all of that being said, here is how I measure my success.....

My father is the greatest man I know and besides CNJ, he is also my best friend , of course as a rebellious teen I did not realize this. I can only hope to be half the man the he is. Beyond anything else that is going on in his life, my mother, my sister and I were and are the most important assets in his life and he would do everything in his power to make sure our needs were met.

I have learned that a man is only as good as his word, and his actions speak louder than any words.

I have learned that I need to be able to look into the mirror and like what I see. And just having money and winning does not make me like who I am. But I do pay my bills on time and I am providing a stable environment for my children.

I am able to accept my failures, and turn them into successes by the lessons that I have learned from everyone of them.

My honesty and integrity are intact.

And above all of that, I have the most beautiful family that any man can ask for. Whatever it takes to make sure their needs are met is what is truly important. If I have to get out of the horse business to make sure that is so then I will do it. Being a horse trainer is my dream, not theirs. All they have to know is, no matter what their needs, daddy will make sure they are met.

So my greatest success, is my daughters, including my step daughter. Who is becoming a beautiful and sensible young woman. Who over the past few years of mom and I banging our heads against the wall are seeing a change in that kid that is going well beyond our expectations.

The way I now measure my successes has definitely changed.
The picture at the top, well, that is me with one of my greatest successes ever!

Perhaps, I am more like my father than I thought!
Please join me on my new blog The Insomnaics Ball at


GoLightly said...

Another Blog, JR??
How do you find the time???

GoLightly said...

Great post, btw.

I get tired just thinking about how much you all have got going..

JohnieRotten said...


Luckily for me, the new blog is almost maintenance free!

CharlesCityCat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CharlesCityCat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CharlesCityCat said...

Oops, I seem to be having a problem here. Please excuse me!!!

Okay, now that I have stopped laughing at myself, I wanted to say:

JR, your post made me teary, it is just lovely. I love the picture too.

I feel the exact same way about my daughter.

Dena said...

It is a beautiful post. And I hear that the girls have an amazing Grandpa and Grandma.

I already knew that they are blessed in their parents.

And besides JR the pressure is off.
The vote is in.

Owning doesn't mean shit. Yep, that is correct.
The renters say so.

CCC why were you laughing at yourself???
What did you do?

CharlesCityCat said...


The two deleted comments were me, my fingers were apparently attached to someone else's brain.

JohnieRotten said...


Owning only means something to those that own their own place and to those that dream of owning their own place.

Other than that, happiness is where we find it?

I know , that was pure corn, but it holds true.

Dena said...

JR I am laughing. The only time I want to be a renter is when the property tax payments are due.
And the homeowners insurance premiums.

And when the roof leaks, the furnace breaks, the electrical fails, or the plumbing goes to hell.

We have never had a lien placed against us or a claim on our insurance.
So, I don't worry about that.

And I do believe happiness is where you find it.

CCC whose brain?lol

autumnblaze said...

Awwww.... what an adorable picture!

It's refreshing to see there are some people out there who still think this way. Good for you JR and CnJ and especially your girls.

CharlesCityCat said...

Dena, I am not sure, but I think it was Gumby.

flying fig said...

>>Owning only means something to those that own their own place and to those that dream of owning their own place.

Other than that, happiness is where we find it?<<

Well said, JR. Happiness can even be found if one is leasing/renting....

And that photo made me all schmoopie....


Cut-N-Jump said...

Awwww, wipes eyes, while applauding.

hls said...

All the wonder in the universe is contained in a child's face. Beautiful photo, beautiful post.

hls said...

And because this is an equine blog, I thought you all might enjoy seeing how important equines are in another part of the world:

Literally, the future of the country rides on the back of 3,171 donkeys. How utterly cool is that?

kestrel said...

Awww, that's just awesome. Hey, if being happy is corny I'm all for corn! I just got the ultrasounds today, I'm gonna be a granny! Family is the most important thing of all, and friends is family, too.

JohnieRotten said...

Congrats On being a Granny Kestrel.

How can you be a Granny. You don't look a day over 25

Cut-N-Jump said...

Congrats Kestral!

Friends are the 'family' you get to choose.

CharlesCityCat said...

Congrats Kestrel on the Grandbaby.

Did the US show the gender or was it too early?

How are those beautiful equine babies of yours doing?

fernvalley01 said...

Wow JR . You are one hell of a guy! That was just perfect beautifully stated. All of your girls are very lucky to have you!

CharlesCityCat said...


Good point about friends being the family you can choose, so very true.

On of my favorite sayings is "family, you gotta love em, cause they won't let you kill em."

horspoor said...

Congrats Kestrel.

Yeah the end of the day it is the 'intangibles' that count.

Dena said...

hls I liked that link. Kestrel a grandbaby!?!
Congratulations to ALL!!!

horspoor said...

I used to measure success far differently than I do now. Perspectives change. Yeah, I still like to however isn't important like it once was.

I now compete with myself. Was it a good ride? Did I do well? Sometimes a judge rewards me for it, sometimes they don't. Was my horse relaxed? Did he end the day a happy camper or stressed out by all the commotion? Does he look alert and happy or just tired and/or dejected?

My thinking in business is the same. Did I do right by the client? I remember when I went to work for a large insurance company and they were pushing: Company first, client second, and me last. Well bully for them. I remember thinking this formula doesn't work for me. First of all I have a fiduciary commitment to the client. So, for me the order is slightly altered: Client first, Me second, Company third. Hey, it's the only way I can get through the day. And when I was 'working' my business I did well, within a year the bulk of my business was referrals. But I was putting in 12-14 hour days, my son was a toddler. It just wasn't good. Yeah, I might of been heading to Million Dollar Roundtable...but at the end of the day, I didn't know my kid.

So, I made some changes. Yeah, I make less money. Yeah, things can be pretty tight sometimes. But I know and like my kid.

I can always 'go back to work' when he's in college. So, my time table on retirement, and the stuff I have is altered. But it is all good. You don't get do overs on your kids.

nccatnip said...

Funny thing about the renting vs owning- no one that owns thinks it is a bad idea. And did you ever notice, the renters all wish they owned?
While there may be some advantages to renting, they are far overshadowed by owning. Ask any accounant. Or home owner.

Cute pic, JR

GoLightly said...

As long as you have the money, NCC.
Money counts. Smarts, of course, count.

Those poor schmucks who lost their houses were simply buying into the credit pipe dream. Said dream was flogged by the very institutions that then fcuked them over. Some of the institutions went under, most did not.
Money on top of money on top of debt. Of course, it crashed. Seemed obvious to me, but I am smarts challenged.
(waves to Regina, Saskatchewan)

Yes, they were foolish. Unlucky.
Unfortunate. Maybe they were doomed, but they were simply following that great dream we all have, of owning land.
You sure can't take it with you.

Money for nothing, and your chicks for free.

It sounded so good, didn't it?

I measure up badly.
No-one's fault but my own.
I am debt-free, though.

Oh, sorry, that is a lie. I seem to owe the government for General Motor's failure to be a well-managed corporation..

Taxed to death, and out.

hls said...

I think there are convincing arguments on both sides. Owning is a lot of work, and it's expensive too; but it does provide a peace of mind. You never worry if someone is going to decide next year that they want to sell the property or in the case of Fairview Stud, choose to revert the land to a cattle ranch.

The owners and breeders of Fairview are having a "distress"/dispersal sale of their stock. They have 90 horses they are trying to move. One could argue that if they owned their ranch, they would have been more secure. One could also argue that breeding 90 horses isn't the best idea; but I can't judge. I've made some dumb decisions in my life, so I know MY glass house isn't shatterproof.

I wish I could afford WW Mystic Vanity. What a cutey-pie. Now, that's my idea of mysterious and handsome. ;-)

joanna said...

How does the saying go? "The measure of a man is the ones he leaves behind."

horspoor said...

Regarding the housing crash and the bizarre lending practices of the past years...WTF? I can't believe some of the lenders, and mrtg brokers that put these people in these insane loans haven't been prosecuted. They were the experts. They were advising Joe Average on what to buy, what he could afford. Shame on them.

But then I wonder how competent many of those loan officers really were? I just saw census statistic that said 40%+ of adults are illiterate (okay, there are different definitions of illiterate, but still scary). What the hell? Like lambs to the slaughter.

hls said...

Horspoor: I couldn't agree more. What I hate about the rhetoric on all of this is that the consumer gets blamed nine times out of 10; but the lenders and realtors were right there pushing the consumers to take loans that their lenders and realtors KNEW they couldn't actually afford.

Right before the housing crash, my husband and I were offered a mortgage that made me want to puke it was so large. There was NO WAY we could afford it; and we told the lender that. He immediately agreed and named a number that was $80K lower and said "that's what I'd feel comfortable with." Meanwhile, our realtor actually said to us, "'s just money. These are your earning years. Take a chance. You won't regret it."

We were smart/lucky/well-trained by adversity enough to say 'no' to the out-sized mortgage we could have gotten; but many of our peers were not. I don't blame them for putting their trust in their lenders. We have been trained to let experts help us with things like taxes and mortgages and healthcare.

If anything, I think this housing crash will leave a lot of people with little faith in the institutions that helped create it. And that's a good thing, in my opinion. The more suspicious and cautious people can be, the better. Big companies like banks and insurers are not in it to protect you. They want to earn money off your back, and they are held to no standards of transparency whatsoever.

TheTruth said...

JR, very heartfelt and open post. That picture is absolutely beautiful.

My measuring of success has been an ongoing process. I have actually had to distinguish the difference between personal and business success. Before I met my beautiful wife, I never thought that children would be a part of my life. Much less fill a void I didn't even know was there.

I had a good friend that taught me to say a very simple prayer. For most of my life I had always felt that I KNEW what would make me happy. He reminded me that many people chase after the things that they feel will make them happy. I fell under that category. He reminded me that no matter what I accomplished I always felt like something was missing. He suggested that I ask God for those things that which I have never had. Basically meaning that there are things in life that bring great joy and the feeling of success that I would never of thought of. He was right! I met my wife and was given the greatest gift I could ever imagine, my children.

I have found for myself that business success and ownership is a totally different deal. Chasing a dream and achieving it is very, very important for people that choose to do so. Many people need a challenge to stay engaged. I have found that to be true for me. It does not mean that everything is going to be easy. It just means that we have set a goal and obtained it. Then we raise the bar. Our current economy has put a roadblock in front of most peoples dreams though. Now is the time to survive, stay focused and gain strength from the parts of our lives that REALLY bring us peace.

Sorry for the rambling. Just got home, winding down and was taken by the beautiful picture of a quality man overcome with love for his child. Thanks for the pic and post.

Respectfully, Jack

horspoor said...

What keeps it in perspective for me is something my mom told me when I was in my early teens.

"Don't confuse quality of life with standard of living."

She was a very bright woman.

BittyBonnie said...

Very well said The Truth

And you are right it is a beautiful picture. My hubby says it belongs in a magazine.

Crazy3dayer said...

JR..I wish I'd known you when I spent all that time in Tucson..YOu would have LOVED my Grandpa! And no CNJ..I'm not after your MAN..I gots me one :)

nccatnip said...

very insightful comment, onemore people should study and strive to live by.

flying fig said...

>>"Don't confuse quality of life with standard of living."<<

So true. My boss has everything you could possibly imagine. Her cars change every year. She has never had to work a day in her life. She has never had to worry about paying bills or finding a new place to live that she could afford or finding a new job. She owns 2 adjoining properties in this pricey horse suburbia as well as others in the area... another sizeable one in Oregon... more in Hawaii.

And yet I rarely see her actually enjoying any of this - or the simple parts of it, anyway. A few nights ago I stood outside the barn door watching two hot air balloons glide silently across the orange & peach & pink sky... as horses called contentedly to each other and the sounds of hay being munched filled the barn. And with a foggy-sounding hoooonk a great blue heron crossed between me and the balloons and disappeared into the thick trees, beyond which lies the pond he calls home.

And no matter how bad a day it has been - I can take moments like that - and "take a picture" mentally. No camera needed. Just pause and embrace that particular moment. Savour it. Tomorrow there will be more worries and deadlines and projects - but those "picture" moments are what life is all about. They may happen in the truck. At the feed store. At the therapeutic riding center. You never know - but they will happen.

I almost wish the photo that JR posted was a wizard photo a la Harry Potter... where the subjects move within the frame. I can almost see JR lift that little one and kiss her on the top of her head...

IMO we all need to "take a picture" more often...


JohnieRotten said...


we are actually in Tucson today. Just drove down Campbell ave between Ina and River. I love it down here. If we were to stay here in AZ. The I would move back down to the Tucson area.

SFTS said...

Adorable picture, JR. Very good post, well written and obviously heartfelt.

You wrote ~ "My honesty and integrity are intact."

Same here.

Words to live by, and value. :)

horspoor wrote:
I now compete with myself. Was it a good ride? Did I do well? Sometimes a judge rewards me for it, sometimes they don't.
- - - - - - - -

Very, very well put. That is what I teach my students, in helping them to become as gracious in losing a class as they are when they win. Very important lessons!!

I also agree with you wholeheartedly about the lending practices that caused the fall of the housing market. As I mentioned on the other thread, we were "approved" several times for homes we KNEW we would not be able to sustain. "Creative financing" and all that. It was criminal what happened to so many buyers. Thank goodness we did not get sucked in.

GL, very good post about home ownership, having the money to do so {successfully} and so forth. That the housing "boom" was doomed to failure was a no-brainer for me. I kept telling folks, this cannot last, there is going to be a huge crash. Funny, but at the time no one, not family (including my hubby) nor friends, thought I was serious...

Back when the market was on it's upswing here in '03-'05, my husband was studying for his Real Estate License exam. An aunt of his and her hubby owned a very successful mortgage loan and real estate company, and my husband was working for them in one of their offices after his regular job, learning the ropes. He decided that being in RE wasn't what he really wanted to do, and he decided not to continue to pursue that avenue of business. Two years after he quit, his aunt's business failed badly and they lost everything, going into debt in the millions of dollars because of holdings they had poured money into for speculation purposes that were by then virtually worthless. Sucks.

hls, when I received the email from Dr Ward about having to liquidate so much of his excellent stock, my heart tore apart. Last Summer I was speaking with him about transporting a couple of stallions he had on lease here in So Cal up to Canada, but did not have a passport at the time and it was too short notice to get that straightened out. That was around the time of just after, I think, that passports began being required to passage into Canada. A client of mine's best friend works for a major west coast horse transport company, and she was giving me advice on the trip ~ I had not done an international trip with horses on my own, and was relying on her expertise.

And again, btw, we had experiences a lot like yours as far as buying in the loans we were being offered a couple of years ago. NO WAY, NO HOW thankyouverymuch.

SFTS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SFTS said...

Whoops, posted a reply on the wrong topic. ;)

nccatnip said...

JR- thinking it would be a wonderful idea if you and CnJ establish a message board. Great way to keep track of all the training tips and such. Maybe with like minded people as most are here, it could be a great learning center and we can avoid the pitfalls of Topia, Dopia and the Free Speech board.
I would surely be willing to help you set it up, if necessary but they are pretty easy.
Thoughts on the matter, anyone?

CharlesCityCat said...

I think a message board is a good idea.

JohnieRotten said...


Contact me via email and I would like to discuss message board idea with you.

nccatnip said...

Done deal, JR.

Dena said...

Ever notice how sometimes everything can happen right outside your window?

I am on house duty. Which I have expressly ignored the cleaning of for longer than I care to admit.

My guys were fixing my oops from yesterday.
I was mowing and contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
And tore the belt that operates the blades off.
Fricking pig weed.

Anyway, I hear this sweet and pure little voice say, "I am telling you all you have to do is push right here and it all slides right into place.
It is magical the way it just works like that."

The deeper voice belonging to the bigger kid says, "Really...magical is it? It would be magical if Mommy would stop breaking it mowing pig weed."

I learned about perspective. As it was presented to me right outside my window.
Right now I have more appreciation for the little guys take on

CharlesCityCat said...


Snorking much on my part!!!

GoLightly said...

Dena, stop abusing that pig weed!

The poor thing;)


cattypex said...

I have a similar picture, taken the day our daughter was born, of my husband cradling her with that exact same face.

It is good to remain open to astonishment.

Kid said...


rosesr4evr said...

whoa hoe ho!! FINALLY! I am BACK!!! Tssk, AAAH *roses stretches and cracks her knuckles*

So what did I miss and just where should I begin??

fernvalley01 said...

Welcome back Roses ! how is my cyber nephew?

JohnieRotten said...

Thank gawd Roses is back. Same shit and a better day now that you are back.

rosesr4evr said...

FV-your cyber nephew just celebrated his first b-day! He had green icing ALL over his head, face, high chair, the deck! It was the funniest thing. He is sooo adorable. He loves the John Deere hammer Daddy got him with his light up tool set. He carries it everywhere. I'll get some pics up soon.

JR!!! HI!! Holy cow it's been forever since I've been able to get onto the internet. We just got connected way out here in the boone pickens. The house is wonderful, the property is absolutely gorgeous, and it feels good to be home.

rosesr4evr said...


That picture and you're post were beautiful! I think all your girls are so very lucky to have you and so is CNJ! I know that I'm lucky to have my guy and he is a great daddy too.

JohnieRotten said...

Thanks Roses. Congrats on the house and the first birthday!

JohnieRotten said...

Maybe someday our babies can meet!

rosesr4evr said...

Absolutely!!! Then Rowan can have TWO girlfriends!! HEE HEE J/K! My Aunt calls him a chick magnet!

JohnieRotten said...

2 red headed girlfriends. He is going to need that John Deere Hammer!

rosesr4evr said...

OMG JR, that's the last thing he'll need. He already has a red headed mother! He's in enough trouble with that!

GoLightly said...

The "Fickle Finger of Fate" Award goes to..
(drum roll please)

The Kid!!!!


CharlesCityCat said...


Maybe that should be shortened to the "Fickle" Award.

Oh well, no accounting for taste. LOL!

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