summerhill stud office (michael nefdt)Summerhill Stud Office
(Summerhill Stud)


We ended the introductory piece on 7 January with a statement about the myths and old wives tales that permeate the horse game. In addition to the retinue of skills required to sustain a viable commercial breeding operation, it seems that in order to elevate your achievements above the understanding of mere mortals, you may also need an imagination capable of conjuring theories beyond normal comprehension!

Our observations of other models in the business led to a recognition that most of them operated in pyramidal form, with a horsemen at the pinnacle. We’ve previously alluded to our sense that different things work for different people, and that for as long as they preside over the right ingredients, and especially the best genetics, pyramidal operators can achieve stunning success, at least in the short term. However, this kind of success comes only for as long as the genetic supremacy lasts, or for as long as an extraordinary individual lasts, but in the longer term, it’s unlikely to be sustainable.

The reason is this: there is a much greater diversity of skills needed in the sophisticated environment of the thoroughbred world for the maintenance of a level of standards one might call world class, and there are very few, if any individuals of excellence in all of these attributes. The result is that, while the horseman who serves at the head of the pyramid is often possessed of unusual gifts of creativity and instinct, he is, as you may have read here before, required to be an expert in finance, marketing, agriculture, strategic thinking, building and maintenance, a mechanic, a bookkeeper, and a salesman, besides holding an acute understanding of all of the critical facets of horse husbandry which lie at the root of his activities.

Those that know our business, will tell you that in the broadest sense, so many of these gifted horsemen can be dysfunctional human beings at the same time, in the sense that they relate better to animals than they do to their own species, and this, nine times out of ten, renders them relatively ineffective in the “non-horsey” spheres we’ve just mentioned. Where this inclination includes a lack of understanding of what it takes to run a business, often as not, they wind up employing as their subordinates, people of lesser skill in those areas than they themselves have. The nett result is a lack of capacity, and a job generally less well done than our exacting sport demands.

The next episode will follow next week.

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