Thoughts on Attending Conventions

Cathy Rothery representing Saddlefit 4 Life & Schleese at the USDF Convention Dec. 2015
Cathy Rothery representing Saddlefit 4 Life & Schleese at the USDF Convention Dec. 2015

Jochen is busy travelling all over the world again – he just got back from another course for the Berufsreiterverband (Association of Professional Trainers) in Germany at the end of November, then lectured at the Ingrid Klimke clinic in Caledon, and now is off in Florida visiting clients again until Dec. 23rd.  So it fell to me and our Marketing Director Cathy Rothery to represent Saddlefit 4 Life at the annual USDF conference in Las Vegas this year at the beginning of the month. We were even invited to do a presentation “Girl Talk” on the differences between men and women when it comes to choosing the correct saddle.

Trade shows have really changed over the years we find. I think part of it has to do with the accessibility of knowledge and product on the internet, but part of it is also due to a simple reluctance of people wanting to travel – given the ‘fear factor’ of airplanes and airports. Can’t say I blame them – I have always been a white-knuckle flyer myself!  However, what has become apparent is that those people who still cherish the personal interactions and attending presentations live have also changed their mindset. I remember at the 2005 World Cup Finals in Vegas we made tons of contacts and sold inordinately huge amounts of saddles – people came from all over the world and it was a new event for North America. Successive World Cup Finals (2007, 2009, and now 2015 again) in Vegas realized continuing diminishing $ returns – basically half each successive time.

So the value of trade shows and conferences and conventions (especially in an industry like ours) has seemingly changed – it’s still great to meet some of the faces I personally may only know by name and business transactions that flow through the accounting department, but it’s not a sales atmosphere anymore. We have altered the staff we send to these types of events (even Rolex, or Devon, or the Equine Affaires) – it’s no longer the sales staff that attends, but rather our marketers and “business developers”. It’s still all about forging relationships and informing interested parties about who we are and what we do, but the goal is to get leads for future clinic events rather than selling saddles on the spot. People have realized the value (and necessity) of an on-site diagnostic evaluation – who would buy shoes without trying them on?  Still, it’s wonderful to hear the positive feedback personally from clients who take the time to stop by and say hello.

Cathy Rothery & Sabine Schleese at the AAEP Convention with Manson a Budweiser Clydesdale - Dec. 2015.
Cathy Rothery & Sabine Schleese at the AAEP Convention with Manson a Budweiser Clydesdale – Dec. 2015.

The USDF convention benefited from the concurrent presence of the AAEP in Vegas (American Association of Equine Practitioners) and was lucky enough to procure the services of several interesting veterinarians to present at their educational sessions. All of them discussed performance issues, lameness problems, and issues around injury diagnosis and recovery/rehab. And all of them, almost without exception, ignored one key potential cause. While they all gave great lip service to wanting to ‘protect the horse’ and ‘do what’s right for the horse’ – they all went through lists of pharmaceutical solutions and what to inject/use/apply for what, when, and how often. To give them the benefit of the doubt, they often see the horse (not under saddle) when the issues have manifested to the point of needing medical attention, but wouldn’t it be great if they actually could do a diagnosis of the horse under saddle and at least rule out the potential damage that could be the result of poor saddle fit?

We think so – so we managed to meet with 5 of these vets (some at the USDF and a couple later at the AAEP) and presented them with Jochen’s book and DVD and discussed alternatives. All of them were truly interested and grateful to consider saddle fit as a causative issue – but also wanted to know where to refer their clients to if saddle fit was actually an issue (which kind of segues into my next topic – which is that we are always looking to hire potentially new superstars in this career path!). More on that below… In any case, it’s always gratifying to find equine professionals (and passionate riders) who truly do care about the well-being of the horse; are open to learning new things, and interested in developing their own ‘circles of influence’ around the horse by partnering with new ideas and people. So we’re excited to explore these new possibilities in the New Year.

And now back to my other comment: We’re continually looking for a ‘few good men or women’ to join us in this quest of changing the world – one horse at a time!

Would you like to combine your passion for horses with your need to earn money?? (J)

We are looking for motivated individuals who are team players to fill inside or outside full-time positions in the categories below (you must be willing to spend at least some time for training at head office in Ontario, however).

  • Minimum of 3 years’ sales experience (SFT)
  • Ability to build pipeline opportunities and close business (CSM)
  • Proven background working within a quota and exceeding sales targets (CSM/SFT)
  • Horse Knowledge (any discipline); Industry Knowledge is helpful
  • Strong Verbal, organization and administration Skills (RDM)
  • Ability to travel 12-15 days a month (CSM/SFT)
Aaron Backx-SFT & Alexa Frye-CSM doing what they do best - Helping Horses!
Aaron Backx-SFT & Alexa Frye-CSM doing what they do best – Helping Horses!

Schleese Saddlery now – a leader in saddlery and in ensuring that the product fits both horse and rider properly.

  1. RDM: Regional Development Manager who works in house to coordinate our clinic organizers all over North America to plan and manage our site visits including all necessary travel logistics (flights, accommodation etc.)
  2. CSM: Client Success Manager who networks with key trainers and equine associations to help the CSM populate the clinics and works on business development. Must be able to travel as well accompany our Saddlefit Technicians (SFTs) or Independent Saddle Fitters (ISF) to client locales (can be from outside of Ontario but needs to be available for training to come to head office)
  3. SFT: Saddle Fit Technician – this concentrated course of study includes an internship for the right person to become an on-site Saddle Ergonomist working with BD all over North America (can be from outside of Ontario but needs to be available for weeks at a time for training to come to head office).

You need to be interested in working with clients and dealing with challenges that come with the coordination of our on-site fitting clinics all over North America. You will become an integral part of a Schleese team, which consists of a Client services manager, a business developer, and a saddlefit technician or saddle ergonomist. You will need capable human resource skills to work together with both your team members to negotiate cooperative solutions to often demanding situations. Your salary will be determined depending on individual experience and which career path you choose, and with further financial results dependent on the success of your team efforts.

Please send your cover letter and resume, along with your job preference and references to [email protected]

And a Merry Christmas to all our readers with best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016!


©2015 Saddlefit 4 Life®  All Rights Reserved