80/20 Rule & Horses

80/20 Rule & Horses

February 22, 2024

Getting better outcomes

For ourselves and for our horses

The Pareto principle states that roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.  Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule or the law of the vital few. This principle has been proven to be true throughout multiple aspects of our lives. Let’s look at one application for horse owners and see how focusing on certain high leverage activities can lead to better outcomes for ourselves and for our horses.  

Sean Covey appears on The Horsemanship Journey in the Premiere Episode and talks about “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Sean explains that being aware of what types of activities we are doing and then choosing to do the ones that have the highest impact is how to become more effective. Here is Habit 3, “Put First Things First” in a nutshell.

The first category or type of activity is Urgent and Important.

We know these things need to be done and usually don’t have a problem getting them done because of their urgency. Here are a few examples of Urgent and Important with horses:

  • Frozen water trough
  • Broken water line
  • Injuries such as lacerations
  • Feed storage is completely gone
  • Severe colic
  • Entries for the show you’ve been preparing for close in one hour
  • You have waited until the last day or last hour to prepare to present your horse in some way

The second type of activity is Important but Not Urgent. Here are a few examples:

  • Setting goals for what you want to accomplish in your horse experience
  • Seeking out and then spending time with a mentor/coach/trainer that you like and trust
  • Preparing and planning for weather changes
  • Preventative maintenance around the barn or pasture
  • Preparing and planning your feed management
  • Scheduling and following through with adequate practice/training time

Category three is Urgent but Not Important. These are things like:

  • Phone calls that are unimportant or not necessary
  • Text or email messages that are unimportant
  • Responding to notifications that have no value
  • Conversations or any communications that are unimportant and interrupt priorities

And finally, Unimportant and Not Urgent. We know what this looks like:

  • Excessive time watching tv
  • Getting lost in media channels for hours with no purpose
  • Relaying negative thoughts or stories to other people

We instinctively know that Important and Urgent must be done and we know that Unimportant and Not Urgent should not be done. These two are usually not the biggest problem with managing our lives. The challenge is saying no to Urgent but Not Important and saying yes to the Important but Not Urgent. It sounds easy enough, so why then do most of us have such a hard time managing our time? The answer is that things that appear Urgent but Not Important act on us and we usually react without much thought. Things that are Important but Not Urgent must be acted upon. We must consciously choose to act and then follow through. We must be proactive to be highly effective. That’s why.

The people who have the most meaningful, most accomplished, and most rewarding horse experiences and overall lives for that matter, live on purpose. They act on the things that are important to them rather than react to all the outside noise that surrounds us.

According to Pareto, 20% of our activities give us tremendous results, 80% do not.  Becoming aware of our activity, identifying the high leverage or high impact activities, then following through with the Important but Not Urgent while politely saying no to the Urgent but Not Important, results in a more fulfilling and happier ending for every aspect of life we apply it.

Many members of The Horsemanship Journey identify watching the monthly show and/or participating in Real Progress Training as high-leverage activities that improve their horse program and overall life plan. The Horsemanship Journey has monthly horse videos that feature top horse trainers, rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, horse vets and other horse health professionals such as horse dentists and farriers, saddle and hat makers, and much more. This combined with motivation and inspiration from authors, coaches, and speakers. We invite you to say yes to participating in The Horsemanship Journey as one activity that will certainly yield desired results for anyone wanting to improve.

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