Carole Herder, President of Cavallo Horse and Rider, has taken a holistic view in building businesses and caring for herself.
When asked by The Local about her business success, Herder’s reply focused on service. “As an entrepreneur you need to serve a community and you have to be willing to create that community,” said Herder. She believes that many people who set out to start a business fail to focus beyond selling a service or product. Her success has been grounded in taking the steps to develop relationships with her customers. “You have to understand your community well enough to meet its needs. Those needs will evolve. To continue to be of service, the business needs to evolve as well,” said Herder.
Herder lives and manages her equine equipment business from her rural property in Roberts Creek. She started her first business at age 18 while living in Edmonton. That garment sector venture was a success. As a young mother from the Canadian prairies, Herder had a children’s clothing line that she designed and manufactured stocked on the racks of Macy’s and other large US retailers.
When the North American Free Trade Agreement came into force, garments produced in Mexico, at a fraction of the cost of those produced in Canada, flooded North American markets. Herder’s business could not compete and was forced to close.
Following that closure, Herder knew she needed a change. She needed to focus on the things that would make her happy in life. As someone who meditates, practices yoga and studies holistic health care, she was drawn to the Sunshine Coast’s clean air, water and slower paced lifestyle. It was also someplace where she could realize her dream of having a horse.
Herder quickly learned that responsible horse ownership is not a simple or inexpensive undertaking. As a first time owner she had a lot to learn about feeding, sheltering and caring for her new dependent. The personal drive that Herder had used to succeed in business was now focused on equine care.
With her strong holistic mindset, one equine practice that puzzled Herder was the shoeing of horses. She could not understand why it was necessary to try to improve on the hooves that nature had designed for horses. She immersed herself in the study of the subject. It became apparent to her that horses had thrived on the earth for thousands of years before the invention of the metal horseshoe.
Herder wanted the best for her horse and for all horses. She had learned that horse hooves act as natural shock absorbers. To do this, they need to flex and expand as the animal runs, to absorb impact and lessen stress on the legs and body. She made it her mission to find a better way to protect the health of horses and their hooves.
In 1993, Herder established Cavallo, marketing a boot that she designed to fit over the hooves to provide support as an alternative to applying metal shoes. The boots have a flexible, gripping base similar to a vehicle tire. They are secured on the hooves using Velcro straps. A major benefit of these boots over metal horseshoes is they are only put on the horse when needed, which is usually when being ridden. The remainder of the time, the horse can remain ‘barefoot’ as nature intended.
This year Herder is looking to better serve the needs of the equine community by reaching out to the seventy percent of horse owners who continue to use metal shoes. She has designed a boot that will fit over metal shoes. The Cavallo ‘Transport Air’ boots are made to keep horses safer when being transported in trailers. The boots provide an extra level of hoof protection, traction and shock absorption. “Without boots, vibration from the road can be transmitted via the hard surface of the trailer floor to the metal shoes and travel up the bone structure of the horse and cause damage,” said Herder. An additional benefit is a Kevlar-like insole that keeps the boots from being damaged by the horse’s metal shoes.
Herder is also an author. Her book There Are No Horseshoes In Heaven shares her knowledge of what metal shoeing was doing to horses’ overall health and alternatives to that practice. It also presents information on the benefits of pursuing a more holistic approach in management of horses and life. This book became a bestseller in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia within two days of its release.
As part of her ‘self care,’ Herder takes time to feed her inquiring mind through reading. One of the most influential books for her has been Jim Collins’ Good to Great. Herder refers to this as the entrepreneurial bible.
Herder sees entrepreneurs as creative thinkers. While this attribute is key to developing a product and a business community, the skill set needed to operate a business goes beyond that. Herder’s view is that entrepreneurs need to know themselves well enough to know where they need help and build a team to support them. They need to be true to themselves. This means being honest in how they present their strengths as well as their weaknesses to their teammates. If they do not possess strong managerial skills, they will need people on their team to handle those duties for the business to be successful. Most entrepreneurs need a team of mentors, advisors and helpers to turn an idea into a thriving business entity. “You need people in your circle who know more than you. You also need to know when the time is right to ‘shut up, and listen’ to them,” said Herder.
Herder credits her husband, Greg Giles, as being one of her key mentors. Giles’ background in footwear manufacturing and business has helped Herder develop Cavallo. She feels the most important lesson that Giles has taught her has been that, in business, people make all the difference. By building relationships and doing the right thing, a business has what it needs to move forward. In turn, Herder says she has helped her husband grow in areas of holistic living.
Mentoring is also part of Herder’s busy life. She is involved with the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and the international Womens’ Presidents Organization (WPO). The WPO is a nonprofit organization made up of women presidents of multi-million-dollar companies. Members participate in professionally facilitated peer advisory groups in order to bring the “genius out of the group” and accelerate the growth of their businesses. It was formed to improve business conditions for women entrepreneurs, and to promote the acceptance and advancement of women entrepreneurs in all industries.
“Women entrepreneurs have to be much more holistic. We run businesses while managing all the other commitments we have in our lives, including our own health and well-being. I have to take care of myself physically and emotionally. If I am compromised in either way, I can’t give my best and I stand to let my team and my community down,” said Herder.
Cavallo Horse & Rider, 604-740-0037.
– Connie Jordison