Winter 2023 Pro Trainer

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By Megan Arszman • It’s important to think outside the saddle to preserve your future. 21


By Jennifer Paulson • Maintain your relationship with your customer, even when their investment turns out differently than expected. AND MUCH MORE:


Jennifer Paulson








Dan Huss (Vice Chair), Nick Valentine, Hiram Resende Silva Filho, Ryan Rushing, Matt Palmer, Kole Price, Kaci O’Rourke, Tracer Gilson, Casey Hinton, Billy Williams, Trevor Dare, Jason Vanlandingham, Gunny Mathison

NRHA 3021 West Reno Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73107-6125 (405) 946-7400 /


ON THE COVER: Photo by Carolyn Simancik

For NRHA Pro Trainer submissions or story ideas, email

NRHA Pro Trainer is published by NRHA. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any article without prior written permission from NRHA is strictly prohibited. NRHA cannot accept any responsibility for any error or omission which might occur. Receiving this publication does not confirm or imply that your NRHA Professionals membership is current, and NRHA accepts no liability for anyone competing with an expired membership.

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Sliders’ Night Out; 2023 Judges Applicant Seminar; 2022 Futurity Stats; Calendar. 7 LEGAL ACTION When clients don’t pay. 10 DOLLARS
NRHA Markel Futurity Sales Exceed $5.9 Million; Small-Business Success Blog; Parting Ways; Marketing Calendar. 14 SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINER Using the Meta Business Suite. 25 NRHA PROFESSIONAL CODE OF ETHICS



Sliders’ Night Out Is—Again—a Major Happening

NRHA Professionals, owners, breeders, non pros, and industry supporters turned out in a big way for the premier night on the social and charitable calendar of the reining community, the Reining Horse Foundation (RHF) Sliders’ Night Out, presented by Toyon Ranch.

Held November 30, 2022, in the historic Centennial Building at State Fair Park during the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships, the event honored NRHA Hall of Fame inductees and the Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient for 2022. It also offered its annual live auction, the proceeds of which benefit NRHA members in a variety of ways through the Reining Horse Foundation, NRHA’s charitable arm. Core programs include the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund, perpetuation of the sport’s history, youth scholarships, and more.

“We had several people comment that it was the ‘best Sliders’ Night Out ever,’” shared RHF Executive Director Leslie Baker. “There was strong attendance and immense support from donors and

RHF Board Members to make this a success.”

The highlight of the evening was the induction of the 2022 Hall of Fame members, which were Dutch Chapman, Jim and Pat Warren, and Spooks Gotta Whiz. Dwight Sanders was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The evening also showcased more than a dozen past Hall of Fame inductees who were in attendance.

According to Baker, table donations, a live auction, an appeal during the event, and matching incentives from donors are expected to help the event net nearly a quarter million dollars for the mission-related causes of the RHF.

While Sliders’ Night Out is a marquis fundraising event for the Reining Horse Foundation, donations are welcome yearround. NRHA Professionals are specifically encouraged to support the Crisis Fund through voluntary contributions when purchasing or

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LEFT PHOTO BY BAR H PHOTOGRAPHY / TOP PHOTO BY HYMER PHOTOGRAPHY Reiners from all parts of the industry gathered to celebrate and support the Reining Horse Foundation. Sliders’ Night Out once again honored new inductees to the Hall of Fame and the recipient of the Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award. Left to right: Michell Anne Kimball (owner of Spooks Gotta Whiz), Dutch Chapman, and Jim and Pat Warren.

renewing their memberships and to support the youth program through the NRHyA Buy-A-Pro Auction. To find out more, visit n

RHF Makes Funding Announcement

During the Sliders’ Night Out event, NRHA Past President and RHF Board Member Rick Clark made a major announcement, sharing that up to a quarter million dollars in RHF funding will be earmarked for core programs with future changes to be detailed beginning in 2023. Increases to the RHF Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund and youth scholarships are two areas where growth is anticipated. In his remarks, Clark said, “These are dollars going to areas of greatest need to help in important ways! The RHF Board will continue to guide these programs with a focus on positive impacts for the reining community. We will look forward to sharing more with you how these dollars will make a difference.”

NRHA Event Calendar

Please visit and ReinerSuite™ for the most updated information.

November 24–January 10

Sire & Dam Auction

Visit or contact Haley Carmen at

December 1–January 18

NRHyA Buy-A-Pro Auction Visit or contact

January 10

NRHA Nominations due NRHA nominations are no longer accepted via email or fax. Visit nrha .com/nomination or email emilyr@ for more information, and nominate online through ReinerSuite or by mail.

January 13–15

NRHA Judge recertification Oklahoma City, OK

Hosted at the NRHA office; preregistration is required. For more information, contact Patti Carter at

January 13

NRHA Winter Meeting Hotel Reservation Deadline


January 15

First NRHA Futurity payment due

January 31

Late nomination deadline

Nominations for weanlings and yearlings received Jan. 11–31 incur a late fee. Visit or email

February 2–4

Italian Show Steward applicant school & Judge applicant school

Hosted by the Italian Reining Horse Association. Visit

February 5–7

Winter Meeting

Fort Worth, TX

Hosted at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Fort Worth Downtown. For more information, contact Christa MorrisStone at

March 1

RHF Scholarship application deadline

Applications for 2023 Reining Horse Foundation scholarships must be postmarked by this date. More details are available at scholarships .

March 15–19

Judge applicants’ seminar, Judge recertification, & Show Steward certification

Oklahoma City, OK

Hosted at the NRHA office, and pre-registration is required. For more information, contact Patti Carter at

March 19

Show Steward Applicant School

Oklahoma City, OK

Hosted at the NRHA office; begins at 2 p.m., CT, and pre-registration is required. For more information, contact Patti Carter at pcarter@nrha .com.

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2023 Judges Applicant Seminar March 15–16, 2023

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is excited to announce the invitation to members interested in becoming NRHA judges to join the Judges Applicant Seminar. This unique, once-a-year opportunity will take place March 15–16, 2023, at the NRHA office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

NRHA Judges serve an essential role in the reining industry by providing their time and expertise when judging NRHA events, which drives the future of how reining horses are trained and presented.

“Consistent and fair judging promotes a healthy association, and it’s exciting to have new talent coming into the reining industry,” noted Patti Carter, NRHA’s Sr. Director of Education and Officials.

Those seeking to be an NRHA judge will have the opportunity to receive proper guidance in this exclusive applicant seminar as the first step in becoming an NRHA Judge. Seminar attendees must pass testing requirements, and once accomplished, they will be eligible to attend an NRHA Judging School. At this event, they will complete testing and be able to apply for their official card.

Requirements include being at least 25 years of age and must have been an NRHA member in good standing for 24 months prior to the date of application.

To check to see if you meet the applicant criteria and to apply, visit n

Futurity Stats You Should Know

Knowing a few statistics from the 2022 NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships could help you build a case for a new customer showing in the event or purchasing a horse for you to show. It’s also great information to have when you’re approached by the media. Here are a few key numbers from the event.

1,900 stalls; plus 250 stalls for the NRHA Markel Futurity Sales 1,113 back numbers issued 879 riders 15+ countries represented $2,748,782 open and non pro futurity payout, the highest purse on record

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NRHA and its members take judging seriously, as it’s the core of the sport. The annual Judges Applicant Seminar helps assure new, qualified judges continue to enter the officiant pool.
DON’T MISS THESE NRHA Professional Membership Benefits: MEMBERSHIP RENEW TODAY! visit (405) 946-7400 • NRHA.COM • NRHA Reiner Subscription • Professional Resources • NRHA ReinerSuite™ Portal • Corporate Partner Discounts • RHF Crisis Fund • Voting Privileges • Services Listed on


When Clients Don’t Pay

Run your own business for long enough, and at some point, you’ll probably have to deal with a customer who consistently makes late payments or flat-out refuses to pay. This is unfortunately true in the horse industry, where the line between business relationships and friendships often becomes blurred. When you have horses to feed, clients to manage at shows, and little extra time, it can be frustrating to try to chase down the dollars you’re owed.

Nonpaying clients can be especially tricky in the horse world because horses still need care, including shelter and feed, even if bills aren’t paid, said Jordan Willette, an attorney based in Phoenix and San Francisco. Still, by being proactive, you can protect your business.

Get It in Writing

When you bring a client on board, it’s essential to have them sign a legal contract that not

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Your business requires payments to stay afloat. Don’t let nonpaying customers derail your success. INSIGHTS

only states the terms of your training, the care the horse will receive, and the dates of the agreement, but also explicitly defines the client’s payment responsibilities. Having a written record signed by both parties can help enforce the contract’s terms if you ever need to terminate your services.

“I would put in the contract what the client’s responsibilities will be,” Willette said. “For example, requiring training and board be due at the first of the month. Include late fees and interest charges that start to incur after a set number of days after the due date.”

Most training and boarding invoices are due on the first of the month, but you can provide a grace period, such as five days, in your contract, which gives clients extra time to pay their bill unpenalized before you take action. If the invoice still goes unpaid, Willette said, a written notice of nonpayment should be sent to the client after a predetermined time as a reminder that the bill is past due. Should the client continue not to pay, issue an official termination of the agreement and services.

If the client still refuses to pay, things can

get a little tricky. Horses must continue to be taken care of, usually out of your own pocket. At that point, it will be up to your state laws to determine what options you have to recover what you’re owed.

“Some states offer the ability to place a statutory lien on the client’s horse for unpaid training and board,” Willette explained. “After receiving the lien and, in some states, a court order, you can sell the horse for the unpaid fees. An easier option, depending on how much money is in dispute, is to take the client to small-claims court for payment. Filing a lawsuit is another option.”

Work on a Case-by-Case Basis

If your nonpaying client is a friend or a longtime customer, it can be awkward to try to strongarm them into paying what they owe. Sometimes people just forget to pay their invoices, especially if there are personal crises happening in their lives. In those cases, having a signed contract in place with defined late fees or other penalties doesn’t mean you’re required to enforce them if it doesn’t seem reasonable. →

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A handshake might be the “way of the west,” but a contract is absolutely necessary to enforce agreements made with your customers for payment of their bills.

“The horse industry is very personalized,” Willette said. “It doesn’t run as a traditional business model necessarily would because it’s such a small community. You have to decide what’s best for the longevity of your business because you don’t want to potentially end a relationship with a long-term client who will take their horse elsewhere. You may want to evaluate the pros and cons of enforcing a hard payment deadline on these occasions.”

If a client of many years is suddenly going through an unexpected financial loss and struggling to pay their bills, other arrangements can be made outside of your contract. For instance, they can be allowed to pay the next month or make payment installments on a week-by-week basis. Just be sure to put whatever agreement you come to in writing so you can refer to it if invoices continue to be unpaid.

“You have the ability to come to a new agreement on how the client is going to pay for those services,” Willette said. “[Training] tends to be more of a personal relationship for a business, so you can have conversations with your clients about payments and invoices, and follow them up with a confirmation email or text message [so it’s on the record].”

Don’t Be the Middleman

As difficult as it is to recover money from someone who doesn’t want to pay, it can be best to try to avoid those situations in the first place. One way you can do that is by having the client put a credit card on file that they agree will be charged after so many days of nonpayment. A caveat to this tactic is that you must have express permission in your contract to run the card, along with the terms under which the credit card will be charged.

Requiring clients to pay directly for things like show expenses, supplements, and other incidentals is another way to stay out of the

middle of a money dispute. If you decide to keep a cash retainer on file versus a credit card, make sure you’re aware of any legal obligations required by your state, as you will technically be keeping that money in trust for the client.

No matter how much you try to prevent it, there’s a strong likelihood that one day you’ll have to deal with a client who won’t or can’t pay. Should you find yourself in that difficult position, it’s never a bad idea to ask for help from a professional.

“If you have a situation where the client isn’t paying and you’re worried about recovering the funds, you can contact an attorney and see what your options are,” Willette said. “You have many options available regarding how to recover money in a worst-case scenario.” n

This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute individualized legal advice. Contract drafting and business disputes can be very complex. When questions arise based on specific situations, please seek a knowledgeable attorney for advice.

Meet the Expert

Jordan Willette, an attorney at Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP, focuses her practice in civil litigation, including equine law, products liability, and business disputes. She graduated in 2017 from the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she was named a Trial Advocacy Fellow and served as a judicial extern at the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One. When she’s not in the court room, Willette enjoys riding and is the fundraising chairman for Horses Help, a therapeutic riding organization for children with disabilities. A reiner for 16 years, Willette still owns her youth horse, Whizin In The Dirt, and rides with NRHA Professional Arno Honstetter.

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Sales Exceed $5.9 Million During 2022 NRHA Markel Futurity Sale

The National Reining Horse Association Markel Futurity Sales cast off the cold weather, attracting enthusiastic buyers to a crowded sale ring, with bidding reflecting a stillhot market for the sport. The 2022 sale featured 195 horses, up from 168 in 2021, racking up total ring sales of $5,520,900 and an average of $30,231 overall.

The sale kicked off at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds December 1 with the annual breakfast sponsored by Q Stallions, followed by the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA) Stallion Breeding auction, netting the

group nearly $30,000 for its coffers. A breeding to Spooks Gotta Whiz, owned by Michell Anne Kimball, was the high seller with a bid of $5,800 from Frank Shumate and Kelsie Beal.

Chex N The Trash, a 2021 palomino colt by Gunnatrashya and out of the Nu Chex To Cash mare, Snip O Chex, scored the highest overall selling price of the day when he sold for $130,000 in the Elite Yearling Sale. Consigned by Cooper Smith of Whitesboro, Texas, he sold to Anne Tournay of Belgium. The Elite Yearling Sale saw 72 horses presented to buyers, ringing up total sales of $2,985,500 with a ring average of nearly

Chex N The Trash, a 2021 palomino colt by Gunnatrashya and out of the Nu Chex To Cash mare Snip O Chex sold for $130,000 in the Elite Yearling Sale.

$41,000. Sixty-six head were sold for a total of $2,790,500, bringing a sold average of $42,280. Bringing the top price in the Preferred Breeders Sale was A Gal With A Gun. By Gunner and out Roxanne Winder by Docs Sidewinder, the 2006 bay mare was consigned by Shelli Ries and sold to Jim Pirtle of Florida for $110,000. The Preferred Breeders Sale showed an increase in consignments from 29 in 2021 to 47 in 2022, for total ring sales of $1,243,000 and an average of $26,447. Unofficially, 44 horses sold for $1,159,500, averaging $26,352.

In the Premier Sale, B&K Leasing gained the advantage over the buying field, placing a winning bid of $87,000 on Spooks Buckaroo. By Spooks Gotta Whiz and out of Wanda On Line by Shine On Line, the 2021 dun colt was consigned by Deleu Ranch. A total of 63 horses brought a final figure of $1,390,300, for a ring average of $22,068, while 59 head sold for a total of $1,296,600, with a sold overage of $21,976.

In the Performance Horse Sale, which replaced the Prospect Sale, Gotta Turn It Up, another son of Spooks Gotta Whiz, brought the top price. A 2020 APHA/AQHA colt of Blazed Commander by Commanders Nic, the bay consigned by Alan and Allison Chappell captured a bid of $80,000 from buyer Donald Schanche. The Performance Horse Sale prices totaled $266,700 with an average of $24,245. Prices and totals reflected above are unofficial. Final prices will be posted at n

Online Sales Stats

Online horse sales are booming, as shown by these facts from the 2022 NRHA Markel Futurity Sales.

• 22 horses sold online, totaling $620,500 in sales

• Two were the high sellers from two sessions

• The Elite Yearling Sale high seller was bought online and is to Belgium

• The preferred Breeders Sale high seller was purchased online from Florida

• This is the most online action these sales have experienced

Check Out This Blog!

When we find resources, we love to share them. While researching material for this issue of the Pro Trainer, we came across, which touts itself as a “smallbusiness success blog.” It’s powered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals. Since 1964, they’ve provided education and mentorship to more than 11 million entrepreneurs.

Now, even if you’re not looking for mentorship, don’t think the site offers nothing for you. The blog has extensive content for small-business owners to consider and learn from, under all topics imaginable, from marketing to legal to finances. You can search for content based on the phase of your business, topics, and the type of entrepreneur you are. n

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On, you can find a free mentor, learn from webinars and on-demand course, and educate yourself with a library of blog posts to improve your business practices. PHOTO BY LUKE CHESSER ON UNSPLASH

Parting Ways

Sometimes your client leaves your barn for another, and sometimes you have to do the parting of ways. It happens in all kinds of business, and the horse business isn’t immune to it. It’s a tough topic to address (as is nonpaying clients, as discussed on page 7, and when a horse doesn’t work out, on page 21), but it’s one you should be prepared to consider when relationships don’t work out.

Step one in a parting of ways comes by you knowing it’s time to move on and that the work you’re putting in isn’t worth the money you’re gaining or the stress you’re enduring. If a relationship causes you so much undue agitation, and you’ve tried to fix it, don’t let it influence the rest of your business. Life is too short.

When you communicate the end of your relationship, keep it fully professional. Don’t let your frustration show or let your emotions get the best of you. How you end the connection will follow you, and your former client will share how you handled the situation. Never, never burn a bridge. The horse industry is too small!

Additionally, when you communicate that it’s time to move on, the client might be motivated to change the behavior that’s caused the rift, allowing an opportunity to mend it and continue forward in a professional manner.

A formal notification via email can be your best bet, because it allows you to draft your message, edit it, sit on it, edit it again, and then send if you still feel that way after taking time to let it mull in your mind. If possible, give enough notice so the client doesn’t have to rush to find a new barn for their horses or find another trainer right away to get to a major event. You might even be able to recommend a program where the owner would fit better.

Once you sever the tie, don’t panic. You might’ve lost revenue but gained perspective and peace. As always, when one door closes, another opens. A mindset of abundance rather than scarcity goes a long way to acquiring customers who fit your barn.

Bonus tip: Keep all this in mind when a customer moves their horses to another barn. It’s part of business and should be expected and handled professionally at all times. n

Separating from a customer isn’t easy, but it’ll probably be part of your business at some point. Be mindful in your approach to maintain your reputation.

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There are three easy ways you can stay in communication with your association and your professionals’ group.

Stay Connected

Are you connected with your NRHA Professionals peers and the association?

Be sure you stay in touch with the following communication outlets so you don’t miss any news, discussions, requests for input, and opportunities to volunteer.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP. It’s super-easy to join. Get on Facebook, and search “NRHA Professionals” or click this link. Request to join the group, and Sara Honegger will approve your entry if you have a current Professional membership. This group can be a terrific resource for many things. Post when you’re looking to find shared lodging for help at a show, hiring new help, have questions for the group, and even to get access to the digital NRHA Pro Trainer each quarter.

JOIN THE TEXT LINE. Join the NRHA Professionals text line by clicking this link. Here you’ll get notifications of important meetings, information from the association, and receive a link to the digital NRHA Pro Trainer each quarter.

UPDATE YOUR PROFILE. Log into the NRHA website, and go to ReinerSuite™ to update your phone number, address, focus of your business, logo, accolades, and more to help new customers find you when they use the Find A Pro button to locate a professional. n

Plan Your 2023 Marketing Calendar

The beginning of the year might be a bit slower for your business, making it the perfect time to do some marketing planning. Here are ways you can set yourself up for successful marketing and businessbuilding in 2023 and beyond.

Set Social Media Goals. Determine which platforms you understand—and even enjoy—most, and set goals for posting, growing your audience, and creating content. These benchmarks can include the number of times you intend to post each week, how often you want to dive into metrics for evaluating progress, and pushing yourself to try new types of content.

Audit Your Website. Take a close look at your website. Is everything as updated as possible? Do you have old posts of horses for sale or a calendar from two years ago that’s no longer relevant? Does your site load quickly? Does it accurately represent your current business model? Don’t overlook double-checking all your contact information. And if you don’t have a website…

Build Your Online Presence. Start from scratch with a new business website that’s fresh and expresses your values, accomplishments, skills, and talents. You can build it yourself, but working with a professional will likely yield better results to get the kind of traffic that makes your site worthwhile.

Think Outside the Box. Plan a clinic at your place or across the country—or even around the world. Identify volunteering opportunities in the community that can build your presence. Reach out to journalists and content creators to find opportunities to collaborate and bolster your business’ presence.

Collaborate With Other Pros. People love to see pros from different disciplines collaborate with and learn from each other. Identify another pro to work with for your own benefit, and film it, blog about it, podcast about it, and/or invite attendees to watch it. You’ll be exposed to an entirely new audience to whom you can market your services.

By planning these endeavors at the beginning of the year, you have time to prioritize, prepare, and pivot as needed to best suit your business and your schedule without sacrificing marketing opportunities to grow your business, gain new sponsors, and improve your reach. n

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Using the Meta Business Suite


In the Fall 2022 NRHA Pro Trainer, we suggested using the Meta Business Suite as a scheduling tool for social media to help you set healthy boundaries between your business and personal lives. But it might’ve left you wondering, “What the heck is the Meta Business Suite?”

We’re here to help with that! While it’s constantly evolving (it was formerly known as Creator Studio as recently as mid-2022), the basic premise is it’s a set of tools to help you effectively and efficiently manage your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Where to Find the Meta Business Suite

Locating these tools depends on where you’re working from.

If you’re on a desktop/laptop computer, navigate to your business page, look at the bar of options on the left of the screen, and click “Meta Business Suite.” (It’s at the bottom of the list.)

From your mobile device, you’ll need to go to your app store and download the “Business Suite” app from your phone.

You might find it easiest to work from a computer rather than a mobile device when using the suite, simply for full visibility. But it’s handy to know that you can use your mobile device when you’re away from your office.

The Biggest Help

Using the Meta Business Suite, you can post to both your Facebook and Instagram accounts

in one effort. You’ll need to connect your two accounts (it’s likely you’ve already been prompted to do so). Click “Create Post,” and then under “Post To,” click the boxes next to the accounts you wish to include.

It’s important to know this isn’t a seamless effort. Tagging businesses from one platform to another doesn’t always work, for example. Toggling the “Customize Post for Facebook/ Instagram” can help, but it’s not always 100%. So you might need to go back and do a little editing, if you’re a perfectionist.

Use the ‘To-Do List’

The opening page of the Meta Business Suite has a helpful to-do list that shows the most recent action under your account, from comments and messages to other things that might require your attention. It shows the most recent action, but you

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PHOTO BY MUHAMMAD ASYFAUL ON UNSPLASH Meta offers free tools to manage your Facebook and Instagram accounts via the Meta Business suite, found on Facebook.

It might be easier

can click “See All,” and have access to your entire history of activity on your posts and in your inbox.

Try the Content Tab

When on the main page of the suite, click “Content” on the left-hand menu. It keeps track of everything you have scheduled, drafts of posts you’re working on, and many other helpful tracking items, including basic metrics.

Look at the ‘Feed & Grid’ Tab

When you’re working behind the scenes, creating and posting content, it’s easy to lose sight of how the average person sees your Facebook feed and your Instagram grid (the pages they see when they go to your account). Using the Feed & Grid tab gives you insight into how your potential customers or sponsors see your social media presence. It can be eye-opening if you identify patterns of, perhaps, too many posts of one kind and not enough of another. Or finding a consistent filter that makes all images look similar and consistent.

Use the Scheduler

We first brought up the Meta Business Suite thanks to its free scheduler. When you create a post, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Schedule.” Under that tab, you can choose “Active Times,” and Meta will give you a selection of times to post that they’ve

determined your audience to be most active. Once you’ve set a time and scheduled the post, you can keep track of it on the calendar on your main page of the suite.

Manage Your Interactions

The Meta Business Suite compiles all your notifications in one spot, where you can easily address all of them at one time. Click the “Notifications” button (a bell shape). From there, you can filter the notifications by clicking the toggle button at the top of the page, and mark all as read by clicking the envelope icon.

Your inbox houses all of your direct messages from both Facebook and Instagram, so you can easily respond to all of them or mark them as read them. The inbox also offers many higherlevel options, such as advertising via Messeger, auto-replies to those who send messages, an away message for when you’re taking a break from social media, and more.

Learn From Metrics

If you really want to amp up your social media presence, it’s imperative that you pay attention to metrics. The Meta Business Suite offers many different ways to measure your accounts’ performance, from simple reach numbers on the main page to the deep dive provided when you click the “Insights” tab on the left-side menu. n


“10 Free Tools to Easily Manage Instagram and Facebook,”

“How to Use Meta Business Suite,”

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“Meta Business Suite,”
to pick up your phone to do your social media work, but sometimes sitting down at a desktop or laptop computer can give you the focus and better understanding of the tools you’re working with.

Investing in YOURSELF


All it takes is one misstep. One spook. One buck. That’s all it takes to knock you out of commission for a month. Maybe six months. Maybe a year.

How are you going to continue to pay the bills and feed the horses?

Looking farther forward, do you have a nest egg to carry you through retirement, whatever that might look like for you?

These are difficult situations to think about that have made NRHA Professionals such as Casey Hinton and Ryan Rushing realize that being a successful trainer is about more than just riding horses and competing in horse shows.

“I was living and training in Arizona when I had an accident where the horse fell down on me,” Hinton recalls. “It really made me think that if I did get hurt, if I only had one source of income from training, I couldn’t make a living if I got hurt.”

It’s a scary reality that hits many professionals, no matter the discipline or business model.

Can you continue to make a living in the horse industry if you have an accident and can’t train? What will you do when you “age out” of your profession? These are

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Ryan and Amy Rushing’s picturesque property in northern Colorado is more than just a place to train horses. It’s an asset they’ve invested in that keeps them financially safe now and will help them achieve financial security into retirement. PHOTO BY JENNIFER PAULSON

topics you must consider—even though they’re tough to think about.

Investing Isn’t a Scary Word

Perhaps you don’t think investing and cowboys go together. In fact, you might think they’re polar opposites if you think of investing like the stock market. But there’s so much more to investing than buying and selling stocks.

Investing can be about buying assets that increase in value over time and provide returns in the form of income payments of capital gains, or it can involve spending time and/or money to improve your own life.

You can invest in your future—and it doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems.

“People do better investing in what they’re knowledgeable about and what their skillset is,” Rushing says. “As horse trainers, our greatest skill is our ability to train horses. However, if all you’re doing is training for other people, you’re essentially an hourly worker. You’re not building any assets for the long term.”

This means adding some diversification to your barn, and not just in terms of loudly colored Paint horses, but rather in your offerings for your customers.

Hinton cautions trainers from jumping to the conclusion of thinking bigger is better. Instead, it’s about starting small—within your comfort zone—and thinking outside of your saddle and then expanding from there. →

Diversifying your business might be an easy way to pad your income now so that you can invest in your future.

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“It’s about getting started and then following a path to where it leads you,” he says. “You have to have some diversity to your income.”

If you are adamant on focusing on training, Hinton says you can still have some diversity to your training program. Are you focusing on aged-event horses now? You can add in 2-year-old training, non pro lessons with a training program, or expand into conditioning and showing older horses for NRHA World Championships.

“You can have diversity in your training program,” Hinton says.

Be Your Own Client

Another way to expand on your training program while investing in yourself is to own your own stock. Both Hinton and Rushing encourage younger trainers to purchase and train their own horses, and you see many successful professionals doing so, including Abby Lengel who took home more than $100,000 to invest in her future from the 2022 NRHA Futurity with her own mount, Bringnthaheat.

“When you invest in a horse of your own, you put the sweat equity into it—you’re not out of cash, but you’re putting the time into the horse yourself,” Rushing says.

Owning and training your own horses is an educational investment because you are your own client. You gain perspective of the costs your own clients go through: the cost of purchasing the horse, feed, care, etc.

“You have to care for the horse like you do your clients’ horses,” Hinton says. “If you fail on your own, it costs you personally. You’ll take it a little harder. So, you have the real feeling in what your clients are entrusting you with when they send a horse to you.”

Purchasing a young horse, such as a yearling,

and putting a good foundation on the horse can open up opportunities such as selling as a 2- or 3-year old or showing as a futurity horse and selling as a derby horse. The return, if you do it correctly, can be much bigger than you might think, with a little risk.

At the 2022 NRHA Futurity, we saw many professionals showing their own horses. While this might be received a conflict of interest by some, it’s all about how you present it to your clients. Rushing prefers to breed his own mares or purchase yearlings, then sell as 2-year-olds or older. If he keeps horses older for competing, he treats his horse as if he is another client.

NRHA’s leading exhibitor Andrea Fappani owns horses with his wife, Tish, and they follow the same process: Andrea shows the top three futurity and top three derby horses in his barn. If his horse is one of those, then he’ll show it. If not, Tish may be in the saddle if it’s a proper fit for the non pro. The same goes for Rushing and Hinton and their wives and family members.

“Long term, as professionals, we need to show whatever horse is going to be the most successful,” Rushing says.

When it comes to selling his horses, Rushing does not sell his own mounts to his clients.

“I’ve actually talked my customers out of buying a horse I had because I didn’t think it was the right fit,” he says. “I think, as a trainer, I’m trying to focus on the long-term good of my customers, and not the short-term financial gain I might experience selling that horse. If you keep that in mind, your customers see that.”

If you can make connections for partnerships on horses, it can be a great way to invest in higher-quality prospects, while also potentially introducing new owners to the sport of reining. Whether it’s a partnership to purchase and campaign a stallion or a partnership to purchase land for a facility, it can be very beneficial for

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you, the professional, as long as you take the time to put together a contract to protect both yourself and your partners/clients.

“I have some guys from college that I’ve known for years, and while none of them ride, they all have good jobs and they enjoy in investing in horses,” Rushing shares. “We make owning the horses fun for them, and it allows me to purchase a higher-quality horse than I would be able to on my own.”

Outside the Saddle Investing in yourself as a professional means that you need to take stock in what your interests, strengths, and weaknesses are. For Hinton, it’s not only about being a NRHA Top 20 Rider, but he’s also a Million Dollar Owner and manages NRHA Eight Million Dollar Sire and Hall of Fame inductee Magnum Chic

Dream. Alongside his wife, Kathy, the Hintons have grown their business in Whitesboro, Texas, from strictly a training facility to breeding, foaling, training, selling, and mentoring. Their move from Arizona to Texas was the spark that started it all.

“We had mares that we had retired, and we wanted to breed, so coming to Texas allowed us to do the training, the breeding, and the selling,” Hinton says. “That’s when we made a way to make a living.”

Hinton points to another professional that doesn’t make his living training, but rather as a breeder and seller.

“Lorenzo Lotti found his niche with standing stallions,” Hinton points out. “The diversity to his business, then, is by hosting sales and marketing other people’s yearlings. So, one time of the year, he has income from the breeding,

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NRHA Learn from your mentors and peers about how they invest in their own future, ask for their advice in finding financial professionals to help you set a course, and heed their valuable advice.

and the other half of the year he has income from the sales.”

Like the Hintons, Ryan and Amy Rushing invested in property so they can build their business into something sustainable.

“The best long-term investment my wife and I have made has been in our own property,” Rushing says. “It probably took us about 10 years to where we could buy our own facility, but now we own where we live and train out of.”

Rushing points out that owning your own barn and property offers a lot of tax benefits, so it helps professionals to stay on top of their margins. Instead of paying someone else rent, you’re paying a mortgage and adding to your bottom line for years to come.

“I put a lot of time into our property, but it’s also really rewarding because at the end of the day, I know that I’m going to get a return out of it,” he says. “In the three years we’ve owned this place, we’ve built a lot more in equity in our own place than I ever could have made training horses in a year.

“It also gives me some cushion to where, if I do get hurt and can’t ride for six months, I can lease my place out to someone else or take boarders,” he continues. “I’m then able to keep income coming in. I have some options because of that asset.”

Assets and Liabilities

The not-so-fun part of investing in yourself is the black-and-white of it all. Both Hinton and Rushing recommend working with a knowledgeable individual to purchase life insurance and learn about investing money into accounts that’ll grow and be available for your future retirement.

“We have a Roth IRA and make the maximum contribution we can each year,” Rushing says. Spending money on assets, such as real estate,

young horses, and (monetary) investing will be more beneficial in the long run than spending your money on liabilities. Liabilities are things that depreciate, such as trucks and trailers. And while those are imperative to the business, you can make smarter decisions by foregoing the fanciest styles for those that will work best for you and what you need now.

When to Start Investing

There’s never a bad time to invest in yourself. Hinton urges his assistants to act now, and not to wait until it’s too late.

“I think investing needs to start when you are an assistant,” he says. It’s like you’re in a trade school—you’re learning a trade.”

Younger trainers usually need to take some time to find the niche that fits them best and then build a business on that. Attend NRHA Judges Schools to increase your awareness of the NRHA Handbook and show procedures. While you might not be interested in becoming a judge right now, you may think about it at a later time, which can add another line of income to your bottom line and add diversification.

“You need to invest in yourself, and you need to be able to find your way around negotiating and discovering how the business works,” Hinton says. “When you go on your own, you still need to invest in yourself to stay open. I think that when people go on their own and get started, they have a little bit of doubt and a little bit of insecurity. I think you can find people that can help you along the way. There are so many good trainers who are willing to give back to our industry. You must stay open-minded to be able to seek out a security in that path that is good.”

Cover your assets and grow your business with knowledge. Everyone wants to see the industry grow, so don’t be afraid to talk with fellow professionals. n

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The excitement of a new horse leads to big dreams. But sometimes the horse just doesn’t live up to those aspirations. With direct, respectful conversations, you can manage your relationship with your client and get the horse in the right spot.



Helping your customers find and purchase the perfect horse is likely a big part of your business, not to mention an exciting task, especially when it’s one for you to show yourself. When the horse market is high, even an entry-level Rookie or youth horse can require substantial investment from your customer, not to mention the climbing and ongoing expenses of keeping a horse in training and maintaining its care.

When that investment goes south—whether because of injury or a misjudgement in the horse’s talent level or even just your roster of horses changing—it can cause frustration and

disappointment for your customers. Those can be difficult emotions to manage, but there are ways to make the blow a little softer and even to turn the situation into a positive.

Here, NRHA Professionals Sebastian Petroll and Bob Avila share how they’ve managed these situations to maintain successful, positive relationships with their customers, but also to ensure that the horse winds up in the best place possible.

Manage Expectations

“One of our main jobs as trainers is to merge reality with expectations,” Petroll notes. “The

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As a professional, it’s in your best interests to be solutions-oriented when presenting options for the horse going forward. This builds your reputation and helps keep a client that might be great for your business long term.

owner definitely has expectations from their investment, but we have to determine if that horse can meet those expectations. And we have to know if that customer has wiggle room in their expectations. For example, maybe they buy a futurity horse for me to show. But if it ends up not being enough horse for me, but maybe another professional in my barn can show it, is that an option? Can we adjust the plan according to the horse’s needs and level? Before we get to that phase, I need to know if

my customer is open to that situation because it helps me keep their expectations in line with the reality of our situation.”

Avila adds that part of keeping everyone on the same page is managing how you speak about the horse. He chooses a course of being direct but respectful.

“Don’t tell a customer that the horse is the best horse and then suddenly say he’s not going to work; choose your words carefully but honestly,” Avila says. “I encourage my customers to come see their horses every 90 days or as often as they can. This way, they can see how the horse is going and really understand what I’m sharing with them about the horse’s potential.”

Being truthful in all interactions—and not embellishing—can help keep your perceptions about the horse’s potential in line with your customer’s expectations.

Voice Your Concerns

It can be tough to speak to your customer about problems their horse encounters in the training process, be they training blocks, injuries, or general bumps in the road, but it’s essential to keeping everyone in the loop.

“I try to slowly work in the direction of informing my customer about the horse’s progress,” Petroll says. “I don’t want to be abrupt or jump to conclusions about a horse, but I do want to voice concerns. For example, if I’m riding a 2-year-old and maybe the turn isn’t as good as I’d want it to be or maybe the horse isn’t mentally there, I’ll express a concern but give it a month to come together and see where the horse goes. Basically, I voice my concerns and then try to give the horse time to come around instead of giving up on him.”

Avila is committed to sharing information as soon as he has it and presenting options, even if the owners really don’t want to hear it. →

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“I tell all my customers I’m going to tell them the truth about their horses,” Avila says. “They all say that’s what they want, but it’s still hard for them to hear bad news about a horse. Whether it’s a prospect or an aged horse, they’re going to hear what I think as soon as I have an opinion and we can make a decision on the path forward from there.”

Assess Risk Tolerance

Some owners want to invest whatever it takes in an attempt to get a horse to their own goals. In Petroll’s example, maybe they’re willing to put 90 more days in training and boarding fees into the horse to see where he goes. Some would rather cut their losses early on and move onto something that’s more likely to reach the bar they’ve set for success. Petroll says it’s important to communicate with your customers to evaluate how much risk they’re willing to take— aka how much they’re comfortable spending to see if a horse can make the cut.

“I can ride that horse for another year while we figure out his potential and they can spend another $20,000 in training and care,” Petroll says. “But do they really want to go that far to find out if the horse might work? It’s an important conversation to have early on.”

Acknowledge Your Responsibility

“When you broker the sale of a horse to your customer and make a commission, you have a responsibility to that customer and the horse,” Avila advises. “If the horse isn’t working out to where you expected, acknowledge what you saw in the horse and where your perceptions of that horse fell short.”

Explaining this to your customer educates them about the business and teaches them valuable lessons for their next horse purchase, whether it’s with you or another professional.

Explore All Options

The best thing about the current boom in the horse industry is there are many places for horses to find a great fit, whether it be as a reiner at a different level or in a tangential event like ranch riding or working cow horse—or even in a completely different space as a rope horse or a handy trail horse.

“We try to lay out all the options,” Petroll says. “Just because a horse can’t be a Level 4 futurity horse doesn’t mean he’s worthless. There’s always a place to find a good fit.”

Avila agrees and says that pros are wise to build a network of professionals outside reining to help place horses in the best spot for their talents.

“I’ve always been fortunate in that I competed in multiple events, so a horse that didn’t work out in my reining program could go to another part of my program,” Avila shares. “In this age of specialization, that’s a little less common. So having a group of trainers in different disciplines who are similarly minded in their training and business practices can be a great way to find the right spot for a customer’s horse.” →

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Sometimes your evaluation of a prospect will be off. It’s best to take responsibility for the things you might have misread. This offers a chance to educate your customer and shows your own commitment to being ethical.

Other Advice Applications

The crux of Petroll’s and Avila’s advice focuses on horses not working out, but it can also be applied to almost any relationship you struggle with in your business. Before you end a relationship with your farrier, veterinarian, bodywork specialist, dentist—really anyone you collaborate with in your business— consider how the way you manage that situation can ripple into other relationships, both present and future. Especially when you’re building your business, every interaction can make or break your next big move, influence the next high-level horse you might get in your barn, or lead a customer with big investment potential to another professional.

Be Solutions- and Future-Minded

It might be easy to get complacent during a strong market. Your barn is full, so why make the effort to go through the process of moving a horse to another positive situation rather than just kicking him out?

Bonus: Your network can send you horses that don’t fit their program but might fit yours.

Discuss Pricing

If your customer decides to sell the horse, they might see how hot the market is and think the sky is the limit for pricing. It’s your responsibility to have an honest conversation about how pricing and commissions work, determine how long they can keep a horse that’s for sale, and explore pricing thresholds in different disciplines.

“We’re in a good market,” Petroll says. “But it’s important to explain to customers that some horses that aren’t making the cut won’t go for the same prices as horses that are living up to expectations. Owners feel like every horse should bring a lot of money right now, but the prices vary by discipline and category of horse. The horse has to fit the category to get the best pricing. If you have a filly that’s 13.2 hands and isn’t very good-minded, she’s not going to be easy to sell at a high dollar.”

“I don’t know many trainers who have room in their barns,” Avila relates. “Everyone is full. But you have to think about what’s right for the horse and for your future. There are 100 different ways to address the situation rather than just kicking the horse out of your barn. Think about your customer service and what will possibly keep that customer in your barn for the long haul, with a different horse, especially if these customers are all-in on reining. By offering solutions, you help your customer, you help the horse, and you build your reputation.” n

When the Customer Leaves

Some customers won’t agree with your assessment of the horse and might choose to move their horses to a different program. Don’t panic. Employ a mindset of abundance instead of scarcity.

“We’ve had customers leave and then come back several times over the years,” Petroll shares. “Sometimes they’re gone a year, sometimes 10 years. This is why being completely professional is essential. Maintain positive relationships, don’t gossip about your customers, and recognize that just as you have options for which horses fit your program, they have options for trainers who fit their needs. There’s a good chance they’ll boomerang back to you or they’ll refer someone else to your program if it’s a positive experience.”

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NRHA Professional Code of Ethics

We, the members of the National Reining Horse Association Professionals, in carrying out our role of providing service to the reining horse industry, recognize the need to do so in a professional manner, and to represent the sport of reining in a professional manner with the highest degree of integrity.

Therefore, we have set forth the following code of ethics, which shall govern our endeavors in the industry. By signing this application, I agree to be bound by the rules of the NRHA Professional Code of Ethics. To participate in this program, I concede to maintaining a continuous individual membership with NRHA.

As a member of the NRHA Professionals, I will:

• Adhere to the professional standards of the NRHA and work to further its goals and objectives.

• Ensure that the welfare of the reining horse is paramount and that every horse shall always be treated humanely and with dignity, respect, and compassion, regardless if the horse does not reside under my direct supervision.

• Positively influence all members to refrain from any perceived misconduct or inappropriate actions towards either horses or other members.

• Conduct my affairs in the sport of reining with integrity, sincerity, and accuracy in an honest, transparent, and forthright manner.

• Act with integrity in my dealings with reining clients, other NRHA members, and the public when representing the sport of reining. In this regard, any horse shown by my spouse, client, or child will be economically owned as prescribed by applicable NRHA rules.

• Handle my reining horse business, operations, and communications (including those through social media) in a manner, which promotes a positive image of the reining horse industry.

• To fully disclose to customers the actual sales price and commissions involved in the sale or purchase of a horse.

• To not charge or receive a monetary commission, or other remuneration constituting a commission, from both buyer and seller of a horse.

• Model the proper ideals of positive sportsmanship and fair competition, and show cordial courtesy to fellow competitors, members, and Judges.

The Professional Code of Ethics is intended as a general guideline for reining professionals’ behavior and is not intended to be an exhaustive list of conduct for NRHA Professionals. NRHA Professionals’ conduct is also governed by NRHA Rules. This Code is intended, however, to state basic standards, which should govern the conduct of all professionals and to provide guidance to assist professionals in establishing and maintaining high standards of conduct within the reining horse industry.

This Code of Ethics generally identifies the ethical obligations of NRHA Professionals and does not substitute for, nor is it intended to substitute for, or in any way alter or modify the NRHA rules.

The members of the NRHA Professionals Committee created the NRHA Professional Code of Ethics to further promote the humane treatment of reining horses and ethical business practices. If you have questions regarding this code, please reach out to Sara Honegger at

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