Men and women who buy, sell, breed and/or show horses have been looked upon with suspicion for centuries. Horsemen whose ethics were questionable built this negative reputation. Sadly, this brush continues to tar horsemen in the industry. Men and women who engage themselves in the industry today need to take special care. They too, can easily be tarred by this brush.
Horsemen build their own reputations, through their actions with fellow horsemen.
Honesty is key to a horseman's success. His horses must be represented correctly. Before concluding a sale, inform the buyers all you can about the horse in question. Is he sound? What are his faults? What is his disposition? Don't pull the wool over the eyes of today's buyer, for you will soon be playing with fire. You will be burned, just as you burned the buyer!
Ensure your records are correct–birth dates, markings, parentage, etc. Register your foals while young, process your transfer of ownership following a pedigreed horse's sale. Don't keep clients waiting for their paperwork when dealing with pedigreed horses. Offer buyers the support you can. Your concern and your assistance will be appreciated. Often, it will lead to subsequent sales. The heavy horse community, in particular, is tightly-knit and small in number. News, bad news in particular, travels fast. Horsemen have countless means of communication at their disposal, more so it seems every day.
Never bad-mouth horses owned by fellow horsemen. Word gets around. Your negative comments can destroy your reputation, not theirs. Potential buyers will respond. More than likely, they will do business with the horsemen you are knocking, rather than you.
If fellow horsemen ask for your opinion, ensure they can handle your reply. If so, feel free to comment. However, remember the feathers on some individuals are easily ruffled. Some folk handle constructive criticism well; while constructive criticism causes others to react. Know the individuals you are speaking to. Whatever the topic, if something good can't be said, say nothing at all.
Pay your bills; ensure your cheques are good. A horseman is only as good as his word. People will do business with you if they trust you and they like you.
Exercise horse sense when in public, albeit a sale or show. The public's eye is on you. You need to make a favourable impression. You never know when potential buyers, potential sponsors or potential clients are watching your behaviour. Often, you have no idea who these people are. Don't make a fool of yourself and your horses centre-ring. Remember, you make your bed and it is you who has to sleep in it!
Be honest, be positive, be friendly. Agree or disagree, but always be cooperative. Watch your language, especially when dignitaries, officials, ladies or children, are in your presence. I've known horsemen who have lost countless opportunities, for the simple reason they failed to recognize this. Be competitive. This said, never act like a spoiled child should you stand top or bottom in a show ring; high-seller or low-seller in a sale ring. Ensure dignitaries, officials, judges and auctioneers are treated with respect. While it is important you are competitive, your fate is often in the hands of others.
Your actions will determine your success as a horseman. At least this is how I see it!