By Joanne Verikios, Author, Speaker, Mentor
Here in Australia it's nearly the end of the financial year (30 June) and EOFY sales and hype are in full swing everywhere.
It reminds me that, during all the years I ran the Highborn Warmblood Stud, one of my most important team members never set foot on the property and never touched a horse. Who was he? He was (and still is) my accountant.
Every year I would have a meeting with him and also provide him with updated records about the business of the stud. These included horses purchased, horses sold, natural increase (ie, foals born) and, sadly, sometimes, losses through death or euthanasia. Other records included feed, veterinary, farrier and dentist bills, vehicle running expenses, pumps, generators and other equipment, fencing repairs and the like. I was buying hay by the semi-trailer load and oats by the tonne, so the expenses were significant. I kept track of every cent and dollar that went out and came in and I was grateful for the income tax refunds I received.
The reason I was able to claim tax deductions was because I was recognised by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as running a legitimate horse-related business. The government provides incentives to business people and wants those who qualify to take advantage of legitimate deductions - it's a beautiful thing. I was also registered as a primary producer, which provided some concessions such as cheaper vehicle registration.
If you run a legitimate business - as distinct from an expensive hobby - I hope the 40 possible deductions and depreciations in my handy reference document will help you to reap a bigger tax return (to fund your horsey passion, of course!). You will need records, receipts or bank statements as proof of your expenditure.
Disclaimer: I do not hold a financial services licence and these brief notes do not constitute taxation or financial advice. You are responsible for consulting with your own professional taxation advisors about specific tax circumstances for yourself and your business. Please verify all information with your own accountant in the context of your own circumstances.
Every business is different, so the deductions you may claim will be different as well. Ask your accountant about whether you may be able to claim any or all or a proportion of the possible tax deductions I have listed for you. He or she may be able to suggest others - bonus!
Click here to download Tax Deductions For Horse Businesses.
What are you going to do differently in the new financial year?
Three weeks ago I shared an image on my Instagram account which was automatically posted to Facebook.
It was an inspirational poster that I created on the background of a horse's glossy shoulder. The text, which was almost but not quite a poem and almost but not quite a prayer, reads as follows:
The Horse is not here
to reward your ego
to compete with you
to punish you
to control you
The Horse responds to
who you are
how you feel
what you think
what you do
The Horse is here
to enable you to learn
how to be a better You
- and that is a blessing.
The message that went with it read simply, "Sometimes people think because they "own" a horse, the horse is supposed to be an ornament or an ego booster. When things don't go the way they want, they see the horse as doing it on purpose. Not so. The horse is a gift, a blessing, one of the best pathways to personal development I know for those who recognise it as their super power. This little poster expresses some of my thoughts on the issue." ⠀
So, no big deal, I thought. Another day, another original meme, right? Wrong!!
To put things in perspective, on a good day, the organic reach for most of my social media posts is between a few and a few hundred people, with a couple of shares and a bit of engagement if I'm lucky. Not this post! "The Horse is not here" quickly shot to reach of over 10,000. Then it kept climbing, in leaps and bounds: 40,000, 80,000, 100,000. I was so amazed I kept taking screen shots of its progress.
At time of writing this article, the post's reach is 122,757 with over 1600 shares. Furthermore, that is 100% organic reach.
Okay, every now and then, a situation crops up that cries out for resolution - and fast. The problem, or rather the challenge, is that these situations usually relate to things which are awkward to deal with. As a result, we then to adopt a wait and hope strategy where we wait and hope that the issue will just go away.
So how is that working for you?
Are you waiting and hoping that your horse will stop biting, stop fidgeting while you mount, stop being difficult to load? Maybe he will grow out of it? That's a bit like waiting and hoping that a co-worker will wake up to the fact that they have bad body odour, or that your kids will spontaneously stop leaving their clothes and toys on the floor. It's not going to happen any time soon without a word, action or intervention on your part. What will happen, though, is that you get more and more frustrated and maybe angry, to the point where one day you might explode into a disproportionate reaction. We don't want that.
So what's the answer? Well, the first step in solving a problem lies in acknowledging that there is a problem (please understand that I am using the word "problem" in a loose, generic sense. Feel free to mentally substitute another word like "issue" or "situation" or "challenge" or whatever if you prefer). Once we have our problem defined, we need to act on it and fast. Believe me, having the conversation or initiating the response will not get any easier with the passage of time. The opposite is true: the longer you leave it, the more difficult and uncomfortable it will be for all concerned.
Imagine that you notice your new employee's B.O. on day one and every day after that but say nothing until weeks have gone by. Do you think they will thank you for not making them aware that they were offending you and who knows who else for all that time? No. Do you think that your attitude to and therefore your relationship with them won't be influenced because they aren't nice to be near? No. Do you think other colleagues won't also be affected and resentful? No.
Now during my long career as an executive, I have had to have many tough, delicate and downright embarrassing personal conversations with colleagues on everything from bad breath to smelly feet, not to mention a fascinating range of behavioural quirks. While neither of us enjoyed these little chats at the time, they always ended with the person involved thanking me for telling them and taking steps to remedy the situation. It may take guts, but it's worth it.
It's the same with your horse, whether you have a foal, a colt, a filly, a mare, a gelding or a stallion. I know, because I've had them all!
Firstly, the longer you delay taking action, the more potentially difficult the conversation will be. Secondly, if your horse is exhibiting some behaviour that irks or hurts you, letting it continue is counter-productive and can get dangerous. It will also erode your relationship and weaken the bond between you. Not to mention reducing the value of your horse in the eyes of others. Thirdly, "bottling up" our frustrations never ends well, whether we're dealing (or failing to deal) with horses or humans or other things in our lives. One day the cork will pop under pressure and we are horrified to find ourselves saying and doing things that would never have been the case if we had acted sooner.
Remember all those old sayings about nipping things in the bud and a stitch in time saves nine? They're true. Another classic is that prevention is better than cure and in this case, we're talking about preventing budding habits from getting established. Take nipping, for instance, which probably began as lipping and licking and can escalate into biting.
No matter what you need to address, I want to offer you a few tips to make it easier on all concerned.
If you stick to those seven things, problem solving with your horse won't be a difficult as you may have thought.
Thank you for reading to the end. If you enjoyed this post and found it of value, why not like it, share it and recommend it to your friends? And please contact me if there are questions I can help you with.