So I just got back from the 2nd Annual WHIA Convention. I hadn’t been to the 1st Annual Convention, so it was all new to me.
WHIA stands for Women’s Horse Industry Association. The room was full of women with a few men (husbands) who helped set up particular booths and then sat with their wives during the two days. Nice guys. Also, we had a few men speakers which was nice as well. Gotta have some balance in the room!
OK, well, I thought I’d pass along the ideas and vendors that resonated for me. (There were several interesting concepts from the Conventions, so this is just Part 1.) Whomever I mention today is not because I necessarily liked them the best, but rather they made a nice grouping (and I was able to find their brochures easily in my jumbled suitcase which I’ve yet to unpack). Since I’ve never personally worked with any of them, this isn’t an endorsement, yet, but rather an impression I had from meeting their spokespeople.
1) EQ BOOKKEEPING: Equine Business Accountants
For me, this company is totally awesome because my accountant is constantly giving me that Scooby-Doo look when I bring in my horse stuff at tax time. Rut-Row. He has really no deep understanding of horse expenses so I generally spend too much expensive time explaining and then another expensive hour for his rebuttal. Basically, I throw up my hands and just do whatever he tells me to do.
But, there could be another way… After listening to Jennifer Foster (owner) speak I was impressed with the financial jibberjabber-it’s greek to me speak of EQ BOOKKEEPERS as well as the horsey envelope wrapped around it. Basically, her company knows how to record and track all equine expenses so that the IRS understands them. Jennifer is a horse woman who gets it. She is also an Accountant who gets it. Nice combination. They help with planning, contract players (1099s), payroll, cash flow management, financial statements, tax accounting, vendor payment tracking, customer invoicing and payment collections (yeah!!!) as well as anything else that involves money.
I did grab Jennifer for a one-on-one chat a bit later and I liked her. She felt like an accountant should feel but she had horse hair on her jacket (figure of speech, not really). Loved it. Oh, and another selling point, they can handle regular business accounting as well. For me, since I have another business that feeds me, I would have to have expertise in that more ‘regular’ field as well. Jennifer said, “No Problem.” Nice. Oh, and all the other people that work for her are horsepeopleaccountants, too.
Truth to tell, all accountants have the same bottom line as EQ BOOKKEEPING when it comes to horses. You have to make money eventually or your business is a red flag. There is no way around that. But, it isn’t all about making deductions. Accounting helps you run your equine business in the most streamline fashion so you can make money!
So, if your business needs an ‘in the know’ accountant, perhaps you should call them for a “private, on-the-spot estimate” (it says that on the brochure). For me, if and when I need an equine accountant again, I’m sure to give them a try. Here is their website.
2) ACTIVE TRAVEL – Riding and Walking Tours
OK, I think this is wonderful and I really, really want to check it out. Imagine letting someone that you trust find the exact equine (or walking) adventure for you or your family? Way cool.
I have always been rather skeptical of these tours because you never know if the person putting on the tour has the same sensibilities as you do. So, after I heard the speech from Stacey Adams (President), I marched right up to her booth and gave her the Third Degree:
–How are the bathrooms? Is it safe for women? Are the horses ridden to death? Is it really hard? How is the food? Are there good doctors?…
Of course, Stacey hears these questions all the time. With a large degree of patience she responded: Yes — you choose the tour so you can pick according to your needs, yes — it is safe for women because I do them all myself alone, yes — horses in good health is a requirement, yes — the food is great and yes — we know the medical facilities of each tour.
Then, I looked behind Stacey at all the incredible photos from previous horse and walking tours. I was kinda salivating. Sometimes I dream about places like I was viewing in those photos. Actually, for a moment, I got all dreamy and swooney… As I snapped to, I asked if every person was qualified for every ride. She told me that during her chats with a perspective traveler, she tries to discern riding levels and which tour would be best according to likes and dislikes, fears and loves. So, if you speak to Stacey, be honest. There were a couple of tours that seemed lovely but too “cliffy” for me. But, I’m paranoid about edges… So, if you speak to Stacey be honest and I’m sure she will find the perfect tour for you!
Another favorite aspect of this company is the Kids Camp. They have horse tours for kids! Oh, I miss the days where I came in from Horse Camp completely dirty, sore, exhausted and totally wanting MORE! And, they have walking tours for the non-riding family members.
But, the most telling experience of my meeting with Stacey was her integrity – very important when one is committing a week of their lives to someone else… When I told her that I didn’t endorse any product to my readers unless I had tried it, eaten it, ridden it, applied it, used it or returned it. And, she graciously invited me to join her for a day on a ride. She stands by her product, which is a very good sign.
Of course I will tell you all about it! But, in the meantime, Stacey has riding tours all over the world! Check out her website.
3) EQUINE IR (Equine Thermal Imaging)
OK, I totally am on board with this. About 10 years ago, HORSE AND MAN did a segment about thermal imaging on race horses at UC DAVIS. It was awesome and eye opening. Basically, heat shows you where the body is trying to heal itself. There isn’t much argument to that. Thermography finds that heat. Simple yet profound. It is what it is. So, why not track that?
I mean, the horse may be limping on the right front but you don’t know if the actual injury is in the right front or… is in the hip but he has residual pain because he is compromising. Or, perhaps you want to know how he scans before and then AFTER his event… Or, you don’t really know if the saddle fits. Or if there are sinus issues, or hoof issues or back issues or neck issues… If you had your whole horse imaged, you’d know. And it isn’t expensive for a body scan. $250.
For $250, you get a trained, same across the board, thermographer to come to your barn and scan your horse. He sends those consistent images to vets who are trained to read them and you get your diagnosis. I’m not saying this is better than a vet; I’m merely thinking that this is a great diagnostic tool to pinpoint an issue immediately, without the cost and rigors of extensive Xrays, cat scans or MRIs…
The reason you want Equine IR to do this is because they have created a standard. The images are all formulaic so the vets know exactly which perspective they are viewing and that the images are taken in a way the vets need to diagnose. Makes sense to me. I think that you get a lot of BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. You get the whole horse diagnosed as well as a veterinarian’s input. Of course, I haven’t done this yet… but I want to.
You can call them, 1-888-SCAN-4-IR. The website is: www.equineir.com
4) Last but not least: LARAEDO FARM SOFTWARE, www.LaRaedo.com
This is nvoicing software designed for the horse enthusiast — not something you retrofit to make it work.
I liked this concept because I had horses in training for many years. Invariably, I would get my invoice and then faint. After I woke up, I’d call him, trying to refrain myself from hysteria, as I asked why all the charges? Of course, this would embarrass the both of us. Or, I’d call my trainer to find out everything I could about my horse as often as I could, poor guy. You probably know what I mean.
Another example, let’s say the equine dentist came or any other health provider, and you weren’t able to attend. Wouldn’t you want to know how it went? You’d probably call. I know I did. The poor guy spent half of his time fielding phone calls instead of training horses. He must have spent an entire day just catching us all up on our horses’ welfare. Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone to have the invoicer sit down quietly and enter all the information at his own leisure and pace, maybe next to the fire or with his morning coffee. Then, the invoicee can find the information he/she needs without making endless phone calls.
To me, if I was in an equine service industry that required invoicing, I’d sign up for this. You could keep everything aspect your client services updated, your clients could sign in to read up on what you’ve charged and why, and you could have a message board for all information — no more surprises! Less phone calls, too. You could give performance updates online, training updates, lesson information, what products are needed… the possibilities are endless.
And although I loved contacting my trainer and chat with him, I think that most of the day to day information could be garnered more easily online. It may be less personal, but it is more effective. After all, wouldn’t it be more fun all around if I didn’t have to call with uncomfortable feelings…? If I was apoplectic about my bill, I could go online first to see why, before I had a breakdown. Sounds better to me.
Here is what her website says:
Well, I hope you enjoyed my opinions on the first phase of what I learned at WHIA. More to come later!
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The September Bucket Fund will benefit Grace, the skinniest horse still alive. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible horse, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)