Hello, doll! I am so excited you’re here! Aaaahhhh!
I tell ya, this blog has been a work in progress for, oh, a little over two and a half years. Even now, I’m still a little unsure about the direction, but after talking to my closest horse-y friends, I’m feeling so much more confident.
Really, I think that’s my favorite thing about the horse industry: I’ve met so many wonderful people who are ready (and willing!) to lend a hand, sometimes even without me having to say a word.
Collaborating with others in the horse industry is my absolute favorite thing to do for several reasons:
- Collaborating instantly expands your personal network. Not only have I attracted new clients and made sales off of past collaborations, but I’ve also made some incredible, lifelong friends, people who aren’t so much friends anymore as they are family.
- Collaborating opens you up to new opportunities. Seriously. I’ve had the chance to not only hang out with some badass riders & trainers, but the opportunities that came from hanging with said badasses were priceless. (Like that time I rode with a WEG-qualified reining rider. Or picked up a client who owned a daughter of Reinvest in Gold.)
- Collaborating = Credibility. Seriously! Do you think said WEG-qualified reiner would’ve let me touch her horses if she didn’t think I was a capable rider? Spoiler: That’s a big, fat NO, friends. Actions speak louder than words, so the person/people you collaborate with are essentially putting their stamp of approval all over you by collaborating with you.
- Collaborating gives you the chance to better yourself. You don’t know everything, folks. Nobody in this industry does, and if they say they do, clearly they haven’t been a part of it long enough. I’m a firm believer in learning everything I can whenever I have the opportunity, and collaborating is a phenomenal way to not only learn, but gain first-hand, hands-on experience at something you may need work on.
Now, collaborations can take many forms. Here are just a few examples and ideas for what sort of collaborations you could look into:
- Showing/campaigning someone else’s horse or hiring someone else to show/campaign yours.
- Picking up slack for another person if their schedule fills up. (i.e. students, horses in training)
- Working with a youth organization to host a learning opportunity for kiddos.
- Working with a charity organization to raise money & awareness.
- A joint clinic with another trainer (or multiple trainers) whose specialty isn’t the same as yours.
I know, I know. Sounds almost too good to be true, huh?
Well, it sort of is. See, you’ve gotta do your own work, too. Nobody is going to just hand you the reins to a Grand Prix jumper and say “Here you go, knock yourself out!”
Likewise, people aren’t going to be breaking your door down to collaborate with you.
So how do you snag collaborations? And not just any collaborations, but ones that are worthwhile and not a total waste of your time?
Easy. (Sort of.)
Consider this a hard and fast rule, y’all, because it works both ways. Before you pitch an idea for a collaboration, you need to get to know the person/people you want to pitch and establish a relationship with them. This benefits both you and them because A) it lets them get to know you and familiarizes them with you so they know what you’re all about, and B) it lets you get to know them so you can see whether or not they would be a good collaboration partner.
That said, you don’t have to spend six months “establishing a relationship”. It can be as easy as hanging out with them at horse shows (which is how I met my BFF, Bryan), grabbing lunch one day, or chatting over Facebook.
So, now that you’ve established your relationship with your intended collaboration partner, what do you do?
I’m glad you asked!
- Thoroughly think through and flesh out that idea you had for a collaboration, but make sure it’s flexible enough that it can be adjusted if your collab partner has any ideas, too.
- Make sure you understand not only how collaborating with this person can benefit YOU, but how it can benefit THEM, as well. When you pitch them, it’s “how can this collaboration benefit them?” that’s going to make or break you.
- If it’s a big project you’re working on, like a joint clinic, keep detailed notes. Make note of the date, what duties each person will handle, contact information, etc.
- CONTRACT, CONTRACT, CONTRACT. Literally the most important step on here for any collaboration that’s anything bigger than “Hey, wanna come ride today?” Campaigning someone else’s horse long-term? CONTRACT. Working with another organization? CONTRACT. Hosting a joint clinic with other trainers? CONTRACT. While the contents of said contract will vary depending on your plans, this is inarguably the most important thing you need to do. CYA, y’all. C. Y. A.
If you’re not sure how to get started, or you’re a forgetful mess (like me!), then I’ve saved you a metric ton of work, m'dear. I’ve put together a handy collaboration planner that covers everything I talked about above and will help streamline the process for you. And, if you do use my collaboration planner, then just so happen to have massive success afterward, I would LOVE to hear about it! Good luck, darlin’!
P.S. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends!