If the Client Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy
By Gabrielle Sasse, from March Show Horse Today
Horse trainers have to wear a lot of hats nowadays; more than just cowboy hats, hunt caps or even the fancy driving hats. They are accountants, stall cleaners, grain orderers, show clothes advisers, haulers, and even sometimes a mom or dad to their clients, when needed. We spoke to Leonard Berryhill of Talala, Oklahoma about the latter. More specifically, we discussed customer relations in horse training.
Leonard has been in the training business for 23 years. The same number of years he has been married! Having been in the horse industry for 35 years, Leonard has trained World and Congress Champions, Palomino Champions, IBHA World Champions, and horses garnering numerous other awards. He has been a Quarter Horse judge since 1996, a Palomino judge since 1985 and currently trains everything from Roping horses to Pleasure horses. He and his wife focus on the All Around, with a focus on Western Riding. “We’re in a town of about 260 people, out on the prairie just doing our thing!” Leonard laughs.
With so many years in the industry and his successes on different fronts, I asked Leonard what is most important when it comes to his clients. “Our absolute, number one thing is that the clients have to enjoy what they do,” he emphasizes. “They have to have fun. They have to be looking forward to what they are doing and come with excitement every time they come to our barn. Leigh and I train horses for a living, but we feel like we are in the entertainment business now.”
That is a common thread heard from more and more trainers these days, and it really is true. Horse training is a business for trainers, but for many clients it is a hobby just like boating or skiing. Leonard believes that part of making a client feel comfortable in the show pen is making sure they have a good time on their horse. “We focus on keeping our customers happy and excited. It’s not like we have a party every time, but we want to make them feel competitive, confident and comfortable, and we will do anything it takes to make them enjoy coming to our barn and the horse show.”
It’s not all fun and games though. Berryhill Quarter Horses is in it to win, while having fun. “They have to be competitive, because no one has fun being last place every time! We ask our clients to work hard and be prepared.”
The Berryhills ask their clients to be prepared mentally and physically. This includes getting as much practice as possible, and traveling to the barn often. “Many of our clients live far away, but we want them to get out to ride their horses as much as they can,” Leonard explains. “We also want them to be prepared to compete, style wise. We make sure that their show clothes fit and that their hat is blocked and shaped. People do good when the look good, and when they look good they will feel better about themselves.”
To read more about Leonard’s suggestions on client and trainer relations, click here!