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Living the High Tide Philosophy in the Horse Industry - With Shane Plummer as featured on QHN


Life is rather funny. 

The picture at the top of this article shows me with two of my all-time favorite horses. I sold both of them; now they are both mine, again. On the left is Meradas Blue Sue and on the right is SDP Nobama. I won buckles on both. Some of my greatest memories in the saddle were with these two. I had a very hard time selling them the first time, but they are here to stay this time round. 


Meradas Blue Sue was sold to some friends of mine, whom I genuinely loved and respected – Al and Judy Love from Indiana. When the “great recession” hit, I had to survive, and I had an absolute reduction sale in 2010 to stay in business. I was happy that the Loves purchased this great horse and we stayed connected through the years. Sadly, both Al and Judy passed and their friends and family reached out to me, asking “Can you give Sue his forever home?” 

Absolutely, welcome home my man!

SDP Nobama came to me at an interesting time. I did not raise him, and purchased him prior to the 2011 NCHA Futurity. He is a son of our foundation sire, TR Dual Rey and I saw potential. He was my only show horse that year as that is what I could afford. He wasn’t born with that name, but it was during a USA presidential election year and I thought the name SDP Obama was rather humorous myself. I thought no disrespect as I had none; I just thought it was funny and if I had the opportunity to sit down with President Obama, my hope is that he would, too.

This gelding helped me a lot that the following year. I stayed connected to a sport I love, but it was also good for my soul. And, I was fortunate to have tasted some success in the show pen, winning the 2012 NCHA Summer Spectacular Gelding Non-Pro Championship! It is still the buckle I wear to this day. SDP Nobama was an all-time favorite and the only horse I have ever had that got cheers just walking into the show pen, not just when the buzzer sounded. Ha! 

As is normal in the horse industry, when there is winning, there is demand. Someone approached me to buy SDP Nobama and frankly, I needed to make payroll. Business was done and my business stayed open. Two people won. Glad to say though, I got my horse back! He’s here to stay.

The High Tide Philosophy

A couple weeks ago, a friend read me something at church that I found quite profound:

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best corn. One year, a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. 

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year,” the reporter asked.

“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.” 

So is with our lives … Those who want to live meaningful and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

(author unknown)

Folks, I am a stone cold, laissez-faire, “Atlas Shrugged”-thumpin’, stone cold capitalist, and I find an abundance of wisdom in this short fable which can be summed up in the age-old axiom, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Win/win scenarios are the only things that are healthy, sustainable and establishes relationships. 

Anyone who owns a business, works in a business or is a customer to a business (translation, EVERYONE), should want the business to win. The Business wins are the lights stay on, doors stay open, employees get paid and the goods and services flow. Every business should want their employees and customers to win: the products get made, services are rendered and the money flows in. It’s another win/win. If this balance gets lopsided at all, a correction is inevitable. If there is no profit, there is death. Profit is life. To blame winners for winning, is childish and shortsighted.

The high tide model is something I firmly believe in. The horse business is a tough, tough, tough business. Why? Lots of reasons, but quick ones that come to mind:

  • Highly competitive, lots of competition.
  • It isn’t necessary (to sustain life), because horses haven’t been a need for a century.
  • New players go in and new out every year. That includes horses and people. You think you have a hot stud, but he can be forgotten in four years because new studs come in each year and the market is onto the “next thing”.
  • Effort does not necessarily translate into success. For example, if I pick up a hammer and a nail, well, the harder I hit the nail with the hammer – the law of physics demands that the further the nail will penetrate the wood. It is fairly predictable, this outcome. Tell that to a horse when my effort is X and the horse gives me Y.
  • It’s all a gamble. What is gambling? A sin? A vice? Another word for investment or speculation? Depends on how one defines it, I guess. If you are taking food out of your child’s mouth or decide to not pay your mortgage, because you are going to win at blackjack, well first, you are an idiot and, yes, that is a sin. Or is it a gamble buying Apple stock, because you think it is going to increase in value? What if it is buying a two-year old prospect at the Futurity, because you speculate it will make a great aged-event horse? What if you breed your mare and expect a foal to improve your lot? The biggest gamblers I know are farmers. Imagine a world without those heroes.
  • No guaranteed outcomes. None. Having said that, I can’t really think of any guarantees in life. Even a bottle of Coke can surprise you. Try expecting what you’ve had in the USA versus what you get in Brazil. Sure, they’re a lot alike, but also just so different. There is a reason why restaurant chains are around; diners get to expect a certain outcome that is put on their plate. The closer a business can get to a guaranteed outcome, the more likely they will reach success.
  • “A starving stomach has no ears.” This one is sensitive. I say it because my character demands that I accept truth as I perceive it. I heard this saying from some terrible things happening in Africa years ago and a lot of harsh comments coming in response. From the judgmental eye, well, how can people do such things? From a place of empathy, can you really blame someone for doing what they feel forced into in order to feed their family? Or, take illegal immigration for example. Can you fault others seeking opportunity from here when their “there” just isn’t any? The horse industry is full of the best people, true salt of the earth. They are the God-fearing, hardworking and the type that you want to surround yourself with. Cowboys are awesome. Western heritage is the culture I adhere to. But again, words matter and definitions matter. One of the great Western icons in America is Wyatt Earp. He’s not famous because of one thing, but a few. One period of his life was Tombstone, Arizona where he confronted and defeated a gang known as “The Cowboys.” Those cowboys = bad, my hero cowboys = good. Now that we have that out of the way, there are a lot of people that live hand-to-mouth in the horse business. I can’t blame them for saying what needs to be said in order to feed their family. Having said that, I don’t like all the turnover that is systemic in the horse business and disruption in confidence by what can transpire by “a starving stomach.” This is not limited to just the horse business, but that is my business so the one I am referring to. Who you surround yourself with will probably impact your success more so than your individual effort. Tell that to Michael Jordan until he was surrounded by the right people.

Who Did We Help?

I started out this blog entry with the farmer fable. Is it a nod to collectivism and a slight to individualism? That is for you to judge. Wanting what is good for others, I believe is just being good and decent. I also believe that is the only path to success for me as an individual and my business. I am genuinely happy to see others succeed. It fuels a fire in me to strive for same. 

Last week, Mr. Lloyd Cox became the only rider in history to win over $10 million in the National Cutting Horse Association. That is $10,000,000 astride a cutting horse. Seven zeros folks. Did that news give you happiness or envy? Is that good for Lloyd, his family and his business? Yes. Is that good for the cutting horse industry? Absolutely. Does that fuel the fire of Lloyd’s competition? You betcha. That in turn will fuel the competitor in Lloyd to wake up 10 minutes earlier and stay 10 minutes later the next day, just to keep winning. That is what winners do. Somewhere, someplace, a child saw that news and said to themselves, “Someday that will be me.” 

My business has transformed into a service provider and I’m happy to say that it was a great decision. The transition was hard, took years and lots of people to thank along the way. I am far happier to see our stallion owners win, than myself. I am far happier to see our mare owners win, than myself. All for the most selfish of reasons, too! I can write myself lots of checks, I’ll get nowhere fast. To piggyback off of Mr. Cox above, most of those seven zeros came by way of other people’s horses. And the irony of it all when it comes to Lloyd, there is not a person alive on this planet who helps more people in the show pen than Lloyd Cox. He is #1 in helping people win money and he is #1 in winning money. Fitting. Respect.

In the end, what I believe really matters is who we become as individuals. We don’t get to take our money, saddles, trophies or titles with us. We all exit the same way, and the only questions are when and how. What is truly important is those that we leave behind: did we help them win? 

For me, I believe there is no end, there is only next. So, what I choose to do with that, is my best. Tomorrow demands it.

I cheer for your success. Let’s go be great!


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