Social marketing strategist Ted Rubin coined the phrase “Return on Relationship” as a counter to modern industry’s focus on ROI, or Return on Investment. This new philosophy of “Return on Relationship” has sprouted a movement where businesses are no longer only looking for success via financial data, but also in the width, depth, and quality of the relationships they make with clients and associates.
Put simply, success in business no longer means financial profit, but also deep, long lasting relationships with people in the industry.
You have to give to get; it’s so simple in concept yet not always easy to wrap your arms around when online, since it is not as simple as a favor, a hug or a handshake. I believe everything we do in our personal lives and business revolves around relationships.
~ Ted Rubin
So how does this relate to horses?
Over the past few years, I have managed and trained personal horses as well as investment horses. I recently came across this concept of ‘Return on Relationship’ instead of ‘Return on Investment’ and was delighted because I think it’s so relevant in this horse world we revolve around.
In order optimize a horse’s wellness and value, it’s necessary to manage him as an individual.
In order to know a horse individually, we have to have a relationship with him.
In order to develop this relationship, we have to give the horse time and well rounded attention, and we have to develop an understanding for what makes him tick.
With our personal horses, our pets, our ‘not for sales’, this concept of relationship seems obvious. However, do we really manage personal horse like we’re trying to build a relationship, or like we’re capitalizing on an investment?
When I get to the barn, what is my goal? Getting the ride in and practicing for the show? Or offering my horse mental stimulation, constructional exercise, a groom, and learning his personality? While these two things aren’t too far from each other, it’s the heart of the matter that makes a difference, because when the footing isn’t great, or my horse could use a break from the rigor, will I know? If I’ve used my barn time focused on attending to my horse, I probably will. However, if I’ve capitalized on my horse as an investment to my personal gain, I may not notice.
These horses are so close to our hearts. We love them, and our happiness often depends on their wellness. I have found through experience if I manage a horse such that the resources I invest in him (time, energy, money) must be immediately capitalized on via personal satisfaction, the reward is short lived. When I focus on building a relationship with the horse, not only does my heart soften to a different level of satisfaction, but the horse reciprocates, he is happy, healthy, and we have an improved bond.
With our professional horses, it’s understandable that return on investment is high priority. Horses are expensive, and sale horses add to their tabs each day they stay in the barn. However, the same philosophy prevails. Horses are healthier, happier, and often more appealing when they are treated as individuals. Where I may be sacrificing time to take a horse’s training a bit slower because he’s not putting on weight, or he’s anxious outside the ring, I want to invest in the relationship that will result in sustainable success.
By adjusting the training program and devoting a personal approach to a professional horse’s life, we cultivate a product that will be serviceable for years to come. He will have a safety net in a deepened skill set. As far as my investment, this horse will build my reputation, be an easier sale, and often times bring more money.