Good, Better, Best for the Horse Industry

In 2007, I was introduced to the tremendous principal of “Good, Better, Best” by a remarkable man, Dallin H. Oaks. He is a leader within my church; I’ve never met him, but through the years I have come to deeply love and respect his wise counsel.

In “Good, Better, Best,” he said, “Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do…We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.”

He related a childhood experience that introduced him to the idea that some choices are good, but others are better. For a time he lived on a farm far from the city. Not able to travel much, the family did their Christmas shopping through the Sears, Roebuck catalog – the “Amazon” of his day. He said that in the catalog, items for sale had different degrees of quality: good, better and best.

“Men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).”

The “Good, Better, Best” principal can directly impact our lives. It can improve our families, our relationships, our professional lives, our productivity and our horsemanship. A bigger bit might be good in the short run but most likely will not be best in the long run.

Here at SDP we’ve gone through some big growing pains. It really is great. Thanks to an awesome lineup of studs, we are extending the stallion barn to care for them, and we are making the final preparations for the new breeding season. We added new team members with Frank Sigala heading up sales and service, and Alexis Stephas and Peyton Stout are assisting Kim in reproduction. It is an exciting time!

But the work for the 2018 breeding season began the day the 2017 season ended. One big change made really came from the “Good, Better, Best” principal. Allow me to explain.

It has been a standard industry practice for many years for a breeding facility to collect a chute fee as payment for each mare bred to a stallion. The chute fee can generally be explained as covering the overhead costs for the breeding facility, which is comprised of many factors. The chute fee might be an industry norm, but they all vary in both cost and what is included within the “package.”

For many years, our chute fee included all the overhead, stallion collection/processing, customer service, communication with veterinarians, couriers, shippers, logistics, etc. and it included the first FedEx shipment. We got to analyzing this and thought this might have been a Good practice, but is there a Better or Best way for us to do it?

We determined that our fees are necessary for us to stay in business; that is the reason for being in business, right? But it was lumping in the first FedEx shipment within the chute fee that needed some tweaking and attention. The reason being, well, not everyone bred via FedEx shipped semen. Some would pick up the semen, some would have it flown same day via courier with counter-to-counter at the airport.

The three means of shipped cooled semen have different costs associated with them, with about $100 separating each one. It’s not cool for someone to pay for a FedEx shipment when it is lumped in with the chute fee when they only wanted to pick it up. Even worse is packaging it in when they have to pay for fare for a counter-to-counter shipment, as the breeder needed it next day.

We hope we’ve devised a Best way to handle this. Give the breeder complete control and financial freedom for the service they choose to use. Our chute fee has been lowered to $400. Mare owners have five options: breed onsite at $250 per cycle reproduction costs; pick-up cooled semen at $150; FedEx cooled seamen at $250; same-day counter-to-counter flight with a courier at $350; and shipped frozen semen (minimum cycle doses) at $400.

I tell you all this in an effort to be as customer friendly as possible, and also for upfront transparency. I’m stealing Southwest Airlines’ slogan here, “Transfarency.” This a la carte format will, I hope, lead to better fidelity between our stallion station and our mare owners. They choose exactly what they want, and they are not supplementing anyone else.

I have seen firsthand from great horse trainers their uncanny ability to apply “Good, Better, Best” in their training methods. Short-term gains can, if not done properly, have major long-term consequence. I can’t tell you how many horse “deals” I was excited about, only to get them home and find problems needing serious fixing, all of which take time and treasure.

“Good, Better, Best” is a true principal. I know when I have taken the time to stop and pause, do the internal calculus of, “Is this good, better or best?” It has really paid off in my life.

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