Douglas Emerson Profitable Horseman
Profitable Horseman Newsletter 
July 23, 2010
Always Look a Gift Horse In The Mouth 

I was thinking about project horses the other day. You know what project horses are; they are the horses that are offered to you for no or very little money.

While your cash investment is low, the trade-off is usually an expensive problem attached like: chronic lameness, behavior problems, aged and under trained, underweight and assorted health problems.

But the solution to the problem is someone like you who knows what to do to fix-em up.

Thinking about projects, a flashback to my teen years whirled as a vision in my mind's eye...

My friend Keith's dad, Bill, grimaced as he bore down on the power sander on the rusty Packard door. Rust dust flew in all directions as he completed the next step in his project car restoration.  I marveled at the transformations from rust bucket to showroom-new shine accomplished by his father. He labored long hours on his projects, but he loved the process just as much as the finished car. It was his winter hobby. 

You're wondering what do project cars have to do with project horses? 

They're a lot alike:

  •        Low dollar investment
  •        High labor investment
  •        Long wait for return on investment
  •        Preferred brands or types bring the greatest value after restoration
  •        You can fill a building with them waiting for the fix-it time to be available
But, they differ in one important way.  Bill's projects weren't his business, they were his fun.  In the case of the professional horseman, acquiring too many project horses costs monetarily and emotionally. Here's why:

  •      The required fix-it time is generally greatly underestimated
  •      The value of the finished horse is often less than the sum of the value of the labor, feed, bedding, veterinary and farrier costs
  •      The time requirement can be overwhelming
  •      You fail at solving the problem that needed to be fixed
  •      You lose boarding, instruction and training income that could have been  collected from a customer whose horse occupied the space of the project horse.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all project horses are losing deals. Many turn out to be great value. I am saying that project horse rules are similar to project car rules:

*  Don't fill up the garage with more than you have time for

*  Fix up a Packard, not a Gremlin

*  Double the amount of time you expect the project to take

*  Don't ignore your day job

*  If you don't enjoy the process and the challenge of the work, don't do it

Others have said

"A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it."--Scott Allen

"Beware of Greeks and strangers bearing gifts."--unknown

"The buyer needs a hundred eyes, the seller not one."--unknown

Back At The Barn

barn windowAugust is moving month for our two daughters.  Elizabeth will be moving into an apartment ("Dad, you can absolutely NOT help move my stuff in a horse trailer,they pooped in there!") and Caroline will be starting her sophomore year at a new school, College of Charleston.

Fourteen year old Phillip and I are making a quick father-son road trip for the 14 hour haul to Charleston, SC with an SUV crammed full of "stuff" following Caroline and her packed Jeep of even more stuff.

I'm happy to have Phil riding shotgun for the long trip home to provide snooze control. It will cramp his summer style, though, having to get out of bed every day before noon.

Caroline hasn't been practicing her "ya'lls" to fit in with southern speech.  I suspect after only a few months she'll pick up a bit of a twang in her accent and a Yankee's appreciation for southern culture.

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I work with professional horsemen and women struggling with the business half of the horse business.

If your business is stuck in the no profit zone, contact me. 

Until next time,


Doug Emerson
Profitable Horseman Deewochagall
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