Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

I live in an area of Pasadena, CA where there seems to be an overabundance of squirrels. I am situated not far from the San Gabriel Mountains and perhaps through several generations these furry creatures have found their way to living in the old pine trees in our neighborhood. I am a beach girl, as in the "O.C" and I didn't see them growing up.

All this to say that squirrels amuse me. Well maybe not so much, but who would think that this morning one of these scampering rodents would teach me something.

Squirrels need "tools" in order to survive. That got me to thinking much like the squirrel that uses my roof line to travel quickly from tree to tree gathering his food source, using the tree and a rock or other tools at time to crack open the meat of a delicious nut, The Second Race needs tools to sustain itself.

When The Second Race was originally envisioned in 2009, it was to be a national network, a private for profit business. It was not going to be a "rescue" of any sort and it was not going to take in horses (for at least three years into its growth). It was going to help those that already did that work facilitate the growing trend of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blog Posts and Online Communities) to more quickly place horses into new homes. It wasn't going to be a wide net for all horses, but a specific niche that I felt was missing in the market (all race horses and those bred to race would be eligible for assistance). And a there was going to be a tool (that I still don't want to discuss), that would be unlike any of its kind to help those looking for horses find one in need.

The Second Race in 2009 had a 10 year business plan. An online community was created (and still is paid for but never launched). Facebook was utilized to gauge interest and a website was created. Twitter, still in its infancy didn't seem to click with me personally, my thought was it was a bunch of self absorbed people that needed to alert anyone that was just as self obsessed of their every move. I didn't see the value of it three years ago for what we were going to do. (We recently returned to Twitter and use it for specific purposes--but not placing horses).

The funny thing about a business plan, its as good as the time given to make it happen. Its as good as the tools used to implement it and its only as good as the paper its written on. If the squirrel doesn't climb that tree to get to the "fruit" of its labors, its all for not. A business plan, any business for that matter must stay a step ahead of its competition, it must listen to its customers and it must be able to redirect and reinvent itself to stay relevant in a fickle world.

The Second Race answered that need by opening itself up to taking in horses, this was done by a complete leap of faith, that has had its hiccups along the way. Lots of lessons have been learned since that time and continue to be learned. Mistakes made and feelings hurt. Egos run rampant in this industry and we have had our detractors. But we have had solid alliances from the start. The Second Race had to change its path and unfortunately many of the original initiatives and goals have been shelved. The Second Race had to begin the process of becoming a non profit. Not having a large source of income to spare to file our paperwork, I did it myself. As much as I believe I am a bright accomplished person, we can't always do everything and should have used financial resources and legal help. So because I didn't I had to re-do my paperwork several times. In the process of redoing it (our filing) we had grown so much that we re-did our mission, included new board members, and created an advisory board of race horse trainers to assist us. All the while not a non profit, but taking in more horses. We absolutely put the cart before the horse in this case. And as the squirrel knows that he has to store lots and lots of nuts in the ground to sustain him through the winter, our pending non profit status will help us feed itself so that we can go back to using our mental resources in growing The Second Race to the next level. To return to our original intent which was to be a national network to quickly and efficiently help those that help ex-race horses of any breed re-home their horses and move on to helping the next.

That squirrel that I watched this morning scurry from branch to branch with a frenetic but calculated purpose made me remember why I started The Second Race and what will help us succeed for the long haul. We have to have tools in our arsenal, just like the squirrel needs the assistance of the earth, the tree, the nut working in unison, we too need to work in tandem with many sources to help us increase our brand and sustain our dream and mission.

In the first 90 days of 2012 we are going to do what we can to finalize our non profit status, we are going to do everything we can to re-home the horses we currently have under our roof, and then we are going to dust off our original business plan using the tools of the knowledge and experience we have learned in the past 2 1/2 years and we are going to get back to the basics thereby able to replicate ourselves in several ways to help many more horses in 2012 which all along was our goal when we started The Second Race in 2009.


  1. Sharla - you have and continue to be my inspiration - I too put an entire wagon train before the horse as I moved forward with Victory Alliance Ranch as a sheer leap of faith and the knowledge that it was, for me, the right thing to do - I was not going to have a horse rescue - and the military members that have put themselves in harms way for our freedoms were my primary focus - they still are, but now the herd has grown from a handful to 26...several rescues with a story to tell that shows that Victory Alliance Ranch is a place for second chances and new beginnings and alliances of all sorts are being formed....Along the way I have met some incredible people - you being right up there at the top of the list. I too resolve to complete the non-profit status this year as quickly as possible and keep moving forward - helping people help each other and horses and people working together to heal and bring joy to all. God Bless and Happy New Year!!! May 2012 be the start of a Grand Year for The Second Race!!!

  2. Well said Sharla. I love the parable and I love what you do. Now, Go get those Nuts!!


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