Back In The Saddle

A reawakening of the passion for riding and its uncanny similarities to fine business practices

By Todd R. Sciore

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Susan McGregor with her horse Tsundance Kid

“I rode horses as a child; I was one of those young girls who was just head over heels horse crazy. I had a huge poster of all of the Kentucky Derby winners over my bed…and I was always
trying to convince my parents to get me a horse. I used to try to convince my father that he wouldn’t have to cut the grass!”

It was logical situational assessments like this that predestined Susan to pursue degrees in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and achieve success as a high-level human resources executive with Florida-based Bank Atlantic before moving into the corner office herself.  “I took lessons, I rode as a kid and I would go out with my friends and ride in college, but you go on to grad school and kind of put all of that away. I got married, I had a son and I was focused on my family and career.”

Susan McGregor, President and General Manager of RoboVault Museum Quality Services, with the "other horsepower" in her life. (RoboVault offers white-glove, state of-the-art safe storage of exotic cars.)

Susan McGregor, President and General Manager of RoboVault Museum Quality Services, with the “other horsepower” in her life.

While Susan’s story to this point sounds like it could belong to any number of career-minded individuals, in her case, opportunity knocked one more time and, fortunately, she was home to answer the door.  “About seven years ago, I started riding again, and this time I bought a horse.  I started riding dressage and I had never taken dressage lessons before.”  While she has a genuine appreciation for the horsepower of the exotic sports cars under her safekeeping watch at RoboVault, experience in the dressage ring has taught her that there is more to life than a need for speed. “When you’re younger, it’s the thrill of riding, and when you’re older, you realize that thrill can end up in broken bones.”

Dressage, a French word for “training,” is, as Susan advises, a good way to learn the fundamentals of riding – the correct posture and communication techniques. “Dressage is very disciplined; you have to be very precise…it’s been referred to as ballet with your horse. The cues are very subtle, you’re almost dancing with your partner, but your partner can weigh one thousand pounds.”

Horse Sense
The legendary comic W.C. Fields once quipped that horse sense “is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” However, there is more to it than that.  It’s that instinctive ability to take the lead and safely navigate the pitfalls in front of you.  Inspiration to continue leading effectively sometimes comes from unconventional sources, and despite partaking in various leadership seminars during her career, some of the most effective lessons are those Susan learned while training with her beloved, full-blooded Arabian gelding Tsundance Kid at Galloways Farm in Parkland, Florida.

(L-R): Ellie Scofield, Proprietor of Galloways Farm in Parkland, with Susan McGregor and Tsundance Kid

(L-R): Ellie Scofield, Proprietor of Galloways Farm in Parkland, with Susan McGregor and Tsundance Kid

Another Kind of Horsepower in Business
Communication Breakdown, a rock standard from the Led Zeppelin catalog, may be a great song for hitting the open road; however, in practice it can be a death knell to your organization.  “Dressage is a wonderful sport and the horse will respond to your communication or lack of it.  Horses are herd animals and one of you has to be the leader. If the horse is not confident in you as the leader, it will be the leader, and I think it’s the same at work, as well.”  Susan also sagely advises that “you have to remember that you’re only a leader if someone is willing to follow you, and if you get too far out in front, you’re not a leader, you’re alone.”

The pages of South Florida Opulence are often filled with features on individuals pursuing their passions, sometimes after a long hiatus.  Whether it be reforming the band, dusting off the easel and palette, or climbing back in the saddle, give it a whirl. Who knows, you just might learn something.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering about Susan’s one early ‘failure’ mentioned earlier? It’s that despite her efforts, Dad didn’t fall for the “If you buy me a horse, we won’t need a lawnmower” routine.  But Susan says this early “failure” taught her one of the most important lessons of her life, “Success might not come on the first try; but never ever give up on your dream.”

Back In The Saddle