Return On Relationship

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 where am I going with this? 

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, it is necessary for him to be managed 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. 

Personal Horses

With our personal horses, our pets, our ‘not for sales’, this concept of relationship seems obvious. However, do I really manage my personal horse like I’m trying to build a relationship, or like I’m 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.

Professional Horses

With our professional horses, it is 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 is not putting on weight, or he is a bit anxious about working, I want to invest in the relationship that will result in sustainable success.

By adjusting my program and devoting a personal approach to a professional horse’s life, I am cultivating a product that will be serviceable for years to come. He will hold security in a deepened skill set. He has more potential to be sustainably well. As far as my investment, this horse will build my reputation, be an easier sale, and often times bring more money.



Published by

Madison Maavere

Hello, I am a young professional in the equine industry with a passion for improving horses' physical health and emotional wellness. I grew up riding horses in north Georgia and by the time I was 10, I decided I wanted to ride professionally. This dream grew into the mountain that I climbed every day, striving to reach the top. Until I was 16, I did not have my own horses, so I began diving whole-heartedly into any barn that would allow me to work off rides, training, and showing. While this path may not have gotten me the most blues in the show ring, it opened my eyes and my heart to the vastness of the horse world and how perception based it can be. When I was 16, my family moved out on 6 acres so I could have my horses at home (IE, so my family could see me on a daily basis), and for this, I am truly grateful. Running my own farm, albeit small, was liberating and humbling, and it revealed to me that my passion was not so much for riding sport, but for the love of the horse. Fast forward 6 years, and I am well into my final year as an undergraduate Equine Science/Management major at the University of Kentucky. I have been so fortunate in the opportunities I've received here and the relationships I've been able to build. The cutting edge research, quality horsemanship, and innovative businesses located around Lexington, KY have given me a strong sense of reality, and inspired me to really look at where I can make an impact in today's horse world. What I've realized is that while I like equestrian sports, I love the horse. Moreover, I love to help the horse. I want it to be happy and relaxed, to be sound and comfortable, to eat well and be healthy. I want the horse to have every defense against pathalogical disease, and I want it to have skill sets that people value so it can live a long, loved life. In this love, I feel called to advocate for the horse. I want to learn everything I can about how to improve horses' sustainable wellness, and I want to share what I learn so that horsemen of all experience, backgrounds, and goals can feel inspired and enabled to improve their horses' lives. It is my true desire to initiate and spread a dynamic in which horses are not for the industry, but the industry is for the horses.

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