Current Topic: Lesson # 1 - Big expectations lead to big disappointments; AKA... How is it possible that this went so terribly wrong so quickly!
What Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time...
So! How did this happen...
It all started a long time ago...
Well it did!
Shauna and our partner had been friends for almost thirty five years. Maybe even longer.
About fifteen years ago, or so, Shauna decided we should start a horse breeding business.
Our partner's family property, although technically in town, still allows livestock. Our partner lives there with her Mother and her daughter and has enough property (when fenced) to accommodate, a mare, a foal, and a small round training ring to start a young horse.
So... One day, while Shauna and I were on vacation visiting our partner, we all decided to get things rolling. We knew someone with some acreage that had 'Jack-Pine' trees (small and tall) we could harvest for a price (which Shauna and I paid of course). We weren't looking for a large amount and the property was able to support our need without notice. Shauna had her cousins (loggers) come and fall the trees and size them for fence rails for us. We collected the rails, over the next few days, pickup-truck load by pickup-truck load, and hauled them to the property.
And our partner built fences with them.
And we said 'Let There Be Horses'.
What a mistake!
Anyway... Shauna and I paid for the mares and the breeding. Our partner was to birth, raise and start the foals (her expertise so we thought). However... Shauna was to train and sell them (her expertise, well, not so much).
To make us different. Better then the competition. Shauna had an interesting idea. She had been following Olympic riding and thought she could do better. Not with the riding but more importantly with the breeding. Actually... It was more like a 'competitive edge' advantage. An improvement to the breed. Which, in turn, should be an advantage in the sport. It's all about the competition. It's something we still believe in.
Shauna suggested that we could breed in American-Quarter-Horse with European-Warmbloods (Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Oldenburg, ...) to get better turning and sprinting speed from improved hind-end strength. Quarter-horses are known for their speed and agility but not endurance. Perfect enhancement to 'Grand-Prix' jumping. The concept seemed sound so we (myself included... Ugh!) decided to give it a try.
Enter... The 'Quatravarian'. Our 'new' breed.
In retrospect... What we had here was a great idea. Good intent. And a lousy (ultimately doomed) business plan.
The first horse we bred was named 2E (pronounced: Two-E). The meaning behind this name comes from her mother, and father's names, which both began with 'E'. Hence 2 E. Her father was a Stallion from Spruce Meadows (Canada's Olympic equestrian facility) named Elute. Most of the horses we ultimately bred were to Spruce Meadows Stallions. Unfortunately the mare, chosen by our partner, was more for convenience and cost then breeding quality.
Ok... As per our agreement our partner bred, raised, started 2E (walk, trot, canter - under saddle) and shipped her down (to L.A.) for Shauna to train and sell. Shauna immediately put 2E in a training facility. And 2E did well. She was a willing jumper and she was a great trail horse (unusual to get both). The only problem was that 2E was too short. This is perhaps due to the feed management during her raising. Anyway 2E showed great prospect. She won practically every show we entered. Unfortunately, when it came to the 'Big-Time', we just couldn't sell her. She just wasn't big enough for a full size rider in a grand prix (other then that she was unbelievable). Thus, nobody serious was interested in purchasing her, and, we were to inexperienced (in business) to know what to do. So we kept campaigning 2E. At great expense. Shauna's and my expense. Unfortunately our partner refused to equate the countless hours we worked to pay 'all' expenses including personally trailering and exhibiting versus the hours she put in raising and starting.
And everybody became frustrated.
Anyway... Shauna (after a huge 'under-appreciated' effort) finally sells 2E, for a fair price (all things considered), to a Veterinarian in Canada for her daughter to compete with. A perfect match (Canada and a young rider). The final sale transaction happened to almost coincide (missed it by a week) with a California visit from our partner and her daughter (at our neglected expense of course). One day they were riding 2E on the trail and somehow they fall off the trail and into a ditch. Driving into the ditch is actually a Canadian tradition. Sadly, 2E is now wounded, she has some lacerations and the prospective buyers are about to arrive. So... Shauna has to get a super-quality Vet to stitch 2E up (again at our expense) and hope it doesn't look to bad at purchase time.
And to think... All we had to give up for this was a nice house in Bel-Air.
Finally the big day comes. The buyer and her daughter, from Canada, are there. 2E doesn't look to bad. And. 2E and the young girl get along terrific. 2E is performing well (as she always had) and the young girl and her were a great combination.
Wow! We finally sold 2E. And at only a moderate loss.
Incidentally; We still occasionally here from the family that bought 2E and she is doing well, wining everything and everybody is jealous of the little horse that out-jumps their big (expensive) imported Warmbloods. Alas. If 2E was only a little bit bigger then we would have been watching her compete in the grand-prix at Spruce Meadows.
The best I can tell... This is where all the trouble began. It was after all about five years into the business and only our first Sale. Our partner (and her daughter who we were supporting) was unable to understand that even though we sold the horse Shauna and I were operating at a huge loss. Several thousand dollars actually. None the less we gave our partner a sizable share of the gross even though we thought it should go to paying off the loss. Even so, our partner believed we were cheating her.
This is where Shauna and I are starting to get disillusioned also. We have now learned that our partner considers our financial contribution as incomparable to her labor contribution which we find seriously falling behind. But, of course, we are continually called upon to pay for hay, taxes, vet and every unexpected expense.
So one day, due to a variety of converging circumstances, Shauna and I decide that we have had enough of the rat race. We had some investments and the real-estate market was going bonkers so we sold our prime property at extremely high market value and retired.
Shauna's Mother was from Canada and was failing (cancer), and, our partner seemingly needed help so we migrated to Canada where we could, hopefully, sort things out.
I Guess This Is Where You Can Say All The Fun Began...
So... We get to Canada... Our partner, who helped move us, is suddenly stricken with 'everything's mine' syndrome and is obviously uncomfortable sharing the farm with us. She has basically made us feel very unwelcome.
Let's see... Our partner has given up 'nothing'. She lives on her Mothers property, as she always has, with her daughter. Her Mother pays for their food and clothing. Oh Yeah! She lost her private clubhouse. The 384 sq-ft picker-shack. On the farm. We Own Together. Which Shauna and I have decided to camp out in for the next three months.
We, on the other hand, have made a huge life commitment.
Ok. That's it. We're done...
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