Tuesday, June 29, 2010

101 Things: Number 92: The written word

The horse industry is a handshake and nod industry.

Very little formal papered agreements pass through our hands in regards to employment, obligations and rights. The industry norm is usually based on reputation and the good of one's word within the community.

In other words, you expect Jim Bob to show up with the monthly delivery of 100 tons of hay for X dollar amount on Tuesday (he also expects a cheque and a beer). Or you expect that barn builder to throw your fence up at X dollar amount per foot and finish the job at hand.

Because they said they would.

These are unusual practices to to any industry outsider and is confusing considering the amount of cash, capital and product that flows through our hands.

On any given day, a collective, well-bred herd with a performance history is worth minimum, $10,000 and even the cheapest

I remember way back when, even as a working student, that there was no written contractual obligation, just a verbal agreement that I would show up three days a week and clean stalls for a lesson once a week. It wasn't up until recently, that I started putting things in formal writing including keeping track of expenditures and personal labor.

I would like to think that every handshake and nod deal that I've transacted with has gone fabulously, with the goods delivered in full on both parties ends, but all things said, it's also an industry that you've come to expect the unexpected.

Getting things in writing (e.g. creating a contractual obligation) is a necessary thing, it clarifies party responsibilities, creates clear boundaries, and protects individuals from, among other things, faulty memories.

So do yourself a favor, periodically review your boarding contracts, and your transactions. You never know what you might find.

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