Ward Stutz

Do you remember watching TV westerns – the old classics like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, and Hopalong Cassidy and wanting to ride a horse? Have you seen or taken your kids to see the movies The Horse Whisperer, Dreamer or Flicka and again been caught up in the feeling of enthusiasm and joy. From riding around the yard on his stick horse or galloping briskly in place on her hobby horse or sitting on the brightly painted carousel horse, kids of all ages love horses and the visions they invoke. In our journey with horses, we’ve all dreamed of the ultimate ride that compels us to saddle-up everyday knowing that someday we will live the dream.

 

Ward Stutz

Ward is the Director of Education, Member Programs and Youth Activities for the American Quarter Horse Association.

He was raised in Aurora, Colorado, where all he wanted to be was a cowboy. Growing up in the city, the son of a pharmacist, he was fondly referred to as a drug store cowboy. His parents gave him the opportunity to ride horses when he was thirteen, after his request to buy a motorcycle. He took them up on that opportunity and never looked back. Ward showed and trained horses throughout his youth career and through college.

He received a B.S. from Colorado State University in Agriculture Industries Management with a focus on equine reproduction. He later received a M.S. from Oklahoma State University in animal science with research concentrating on equine exercise, physiology and nutrition.

Ward has a diverse background in the equine industry with experience from racing to coaching judging teams. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Animal Welfare Council as well as numerous committees related to the welfare of horses.

At AQHA, Ward is responsible for membership programs such as AQHA Affiliates, AQHA’s Horseback Riding Program, Breeder Referral Program, AQHA’s Ride Program, Breeder Recognition, Best Remuda Award and special event booths. His hope for his new educational responsibilities is to develop and implement programs to help members achieve personal and professional goals with their horses. He also looks forward to taking AQHA’s Youth Department to new heights.

Ward is the father of two children, a fifteen-year-old son and twelve-year-old daughter. His wife, Kristin, is Senior Director of Medical Education at Texas Tech University Health Science Center.

The lyrics from A Sound of Music encourage us all to “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, until you find your dream.”

We, the horse industry, need to be thought of as “Servants of the Dream.” We are charged with helping people to discover and fulfill this latent dream that’s been there waiting to be awakened and nurtured or sometimes just re-animated.

We must ask the question, how can we set them on the path of a dream and help them achieve success? The horse industry, while a rewarding one for those enthusiasts, requires time and work and money, not like a quick weekend foray to the amusement park or a yearly vacation to the beach or the purchase of an X-box or iPod. Horse ownership demands more, but its rewards are many. How can we convert the uninitiated to the joys of horse ownership? How can we encourage current owners to stay involved? Our goal is to keep them on the back of a horse, and I believe the following bolded four tenets are necessary for our success.

We must receive a customer’s permission to help him/her identify his/her dream. Permission is granted once we establish trust. How do we accomplish this? The answer I believe is simply by acting responsibly and doing the right thing. To obtain this permission, we as an industry should subscribe to the philosophy of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds; he said, “The basis for our entire business is that we are ethical, truthful and dependable.” Integrity must be at the core of all our business dealings.

A big dream with high expectations is our opportunity to help people visualize, customize and fulfill their dream of the perfect horse experience. It is also our responsibility to foster that dream. Our potential customers are empowered more than ever because they have access to more choices and more channels for the ideal horse experience. Additionally, the business environment is changing, which begs the question, is our mind set like Progressive Insurance’? Are we helping our customer find the best value whether it’s with you or with a competitor? As an industry, do we take these dreams seriously, and do we look at them from the customer’s perspective rather than from our perspective?

GE Capital Solutions utilizes the following Lean Methodology to improve customer satisfaction:
Lean’s Four Guiding Principles:
Define what customers perceive as value
Map the value stream
Establish flow of product
Continuously improve the process

Lean’s overarching goal, on which I believe we must focus, is to create value based on end customer requirements. If we accomplish that goal, we will be able to customize our customers’ dreams.

To realize their dream, their dream must be cultivated. Much like taking proper care of their horse, we must take proper care of our members/customers. Today relevancy is imperative. To cultivate the dream, programs, education and activities must be relevant to our customers’ needs. In the article published in 1to1 magazine “You Talkin’ To Me”, the emphasis is on the need to market to customers using not only custom communications, but also targeted marketing that focuses on their area of interest. Our reward for relevancy and cultivating their dream is loyalty.

Many companies are focusing their efforts on loyalty. If you want loyal customers, you have to provide great experiences. Edna Kupris, VP for Circles Loyalty Consultancy, says “if you provide exclusive services based on need it will be seen as responsive.” Companies like Citibank have developed programs such as “Your Wish Fulfilled”, which allows customers to design their own loyalty program. If you want loyal customers, help grow their dream!

Help your customers live the dream. Based on their interests, encourage them to participate locally. Making new friends with similar interests will foster more dreams. Competitive events allow horsemen to live the dream and provide recognition as an added bonus. Finally, the ultimate reward for incorporating these four practices into our industry is enjoyment for our members and customers.

So, as they ride into the sunset, living their dream, we must continuously instill trust, value, loyalty and enjoyment into our industry and businesses. If we can achieve that, which I believe we can, we will continue to flourish; and people will experience the same feeling as Judy Richter when she says “There is no greater pleasure than a nice ride on a nice horse on a nice day.”

 

 

 

 

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