Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray. It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword. ~ Job 39:19-22.
My daughter left home today for her summer job as a wrangler on a Christian dude ranch. The ranch is a slice of Heaven, snuggled between several mountain peaks in Estes Park, Colorado.
My daughter started riding horses before she learned to ride a bike. My uncle, who spent his entire life working with horses, encouraged me to introduce her to another activity besides horseback riding. He was concerned about the cost and he knew it was going to be a lifelong commitment. He was right on both fronts but I’m glad I didn’t take his advice because horses have been instrumental in building her character. The confidence she earned while riding horses has been priceless. When she’s on the back of a horse she shows no fear and rides like the wind.
Ranch life is back-breaking work where wranglers rise early and stay up late. They do a thousand little things every day to make sure the horses and riders are safe. They run about 100 horses from the pasture to the barn before the sun rises. At the barn the horses are cleaned from hoof to head and then saddled for their daily rides around the ranch or into the Rocky Mountain National Park. The horses are then moved back to the pasture after their day is done. Moving horses between the pasture and the barn is called jingling and it’s quite a sight to see hundreds of horses running as one. Afterwards the wranglers return to the barn to put away saddles and make any necessary repairs to the property or equipment. It’s a long day, but their love of horses keeps them going. Wranglers always finish what they start, and they take pride in their work.
During the day the wranglers manage both horse and human. Each guest is assigned a horse for the week based on their ability and experience. Skill levels vary. Most riders are city slickers who might touch a horse once or twice a year. Wranglers do a great job of matching horse to rider. Horses are big animals and they must be respected. A wrong move by an inexperienced rider can bring harm to both horse and rider. Listening and watching the wranglers is important for the campers if they want to have an enjoyable vacation.
I spent many hours with my daughter at various barns mucking stalls, tacking horses, setting up barrels, moving cross rails, and tossing hay. I learned a lot about horses by watching her work. She took her time grooming her horse and planning her day before she led it into the ring. It was worth the wait as I watched her gallop on a thoroughbred as the sun was settling in for the day. She’d spend all day at the barn if I let her.
Investors can learn several things from wranglers.
Respect. The markets, like horses, are unpredictable and can change course quickly, often without notice. If you’re going to invest your life savings in the stock market, you need to pay attention to the details. It’s paramount to understand the innerworkings of the market or hire someone who does. At one of her first horse shows, her horse got spooked and reared up. It scared me to death, but she remained poised and was able to calm her horse down. Markets will get spooked, so it is important to stay calm during the turmoil.
Plan. Wranglers plan each day. They choose the horses to ride and which trails to traverse. The weather report plays a significant part in their planning and saddle bags are packed accordingly. Before the wranglers let riders hop in the saddle, they have a long list of items that need to be completed. Before you invest, I recommend completing a plan. Which financial routes do you want to follow? What resources will you use to reach your financial goals? A financial plan can help you improve your investment experience.
Communicate. The wranglers are equipped with radios so they can communicate with each other about trail conditions, weather, riders, etc. By staying in constant contact they’re able to stay informed. Talking with your advisor on a regular basis is recommended. Communication is the key to a successful advisor-client relationship.
Adjust. Riders come in different shapes and sizes, so saddles and tack constantly need adjusting. Mountain conditions change quickly, so wranglers and riders need to be flexible. Investors need to be flexible as well and adjust their portfolios as needed. Markets are not static. Adjust accordingly. On one Sunday my daughter was riding bareback. I was sitting in a lawn chair reading a book. When the horse trotted around the turn near where I was sitting my daughter wasn’t on it. I jumped up to see her lying face down on the other side of the ring. I ran to see if she was okay. She turned over with a face full of sand and a big smile. She said, “He saw a squirrel and jumped.” She dusted herself off and got back on the horse. When the market corrects, dust yourself off and get back in the game.
Patience. Working with horses and riders requires patience. Horses have a mind of their own and, as you know, you can lead one to water, but you can’t make it drink. Dealing with inexperienced riders probably requires more patience than working with the horses. Investing for the long haul also involves patience. Creating long-term wealth takes time. Saving money monthly while reducing your expenses doesn’t create overnight riches, but it will build your net worth over time.
Courage. Wranglers are tough. It takes courage to deal with hundreds of horses, especially when the weather turns for the worst. Guiding young riders on a mountain trail in the Rockies is not for the faint of heart either. In addition, they encounter several types of wildlife – snakes, bears, or elk. Investors need courage as well, especially when stocks are falling. It’s difficult to stay focused on your investment goals when the market drops, but it’s necessary to stay the course for you to obtain your financial goals.
My daughter is a tough kid with a warm heart. A wrangler to the core. I love her dearly.
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a (wo)man. ~ Winston Churchill
May 16, 2019
Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation.
 Cowboy Ethics, James P. Owen, The Code of the West