Many moons ago when I had my first lesson with Joe Fargis, he told my sister and me that we had four simple rules to follow if we wanted to ride with him. These rules have been added to over the years, but they have laid the foundation for success.
1.) Be on time
2.) Make sure your boots are polished
3.) Carry a whip
4.) Wear spurs
These are four simple rules, but it amazes me time and time again how hard they are for people to follow, especially the first two. These rules do not only apply when taking lessons; the broader meaning of them applies to life in order to succeed.
Being on time is so important for many different reasons because it is the first impression you give people and shows respect. In your professional “outside of horses” career, being late can possibly cost you your job or at the very least annoy your employer or client. Being late can also cost you opportunities. As the old saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm.”
When people take their time moseying up to the ring at the show it makes an impression on the judge. Who do you think is going to win, the person with a really nice round who did not keep the judge waiting, or the person with the nice round but was late to the ring by 15 minutes? How hard it is to prepare ahead of time so that you will not be late?
Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances that may cause you to be late, but then call ahead and give everyone a heads up. You cannot make the same excuse time and time again and still expect people to trust you. BE ON TIME!
Appearance is key! When you walk in the show ring with muddy boots, the judge automatically forms a lesser opinion because you do not look as professional. When a client goes looking for a rider or trainer, he or she will look for someone who is neat and organized in appearance because this will demonstrate how that rider or trainer handles the business.
If you walk into a prospective client’s office or into work with holey jeans and a wrinkled shirt, it may cost you the job. If you have clean boots and are dressed professionally, you will feel more confident and perform better.
It’s harder to apply the last two to a life outside of horses, but the meaning is what you take with you. Always be prepared! When you get on a horse always carry a whip and wear spurs because it is better to have them and not need them, than to need them but not have them. That crucial moment when you need them, you have to have them; if you have to go get them it will be too late. When going to meetings or making decisions, always be prepared with the tools you may need. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Joe is a very simple person, but after winning two Olympic gold medals it’s clear he knows what he’s doing. These rules have served me well over the years and while riding with Joe I learned that life does not always have to be complicated. Start with the basics and carry through. Set yourself up for success, and success will follow.
Chronicle blogger Taylor Flury rides out of her family's AliBoo Farm in Minooka, Ill., and competes primarily in the jumpers. Flury's top mount is the U.S.-bred Role Model (Roc USA—Darling Devil), who claimed U.S. Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year titles in 2011 and 2012 in the 5- and 6-Year-Old Jumper divisions Their story includes brain surgeries and broken shoulders along with the blue ribbons.
Want to know more about Taylor and Role Model? Read the article that appeared in the March 19, 2012 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.