Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART
A few years ago, I did a show
for Stock Horse of Texas, an organization dedicated to
creating better horses and horsemen. The conference and the
show were held in Ft. Worth in the Stockyards. (Does it get
better than that?) Sherry and The Rowdy Cow Dog were with
me, and surrounded by such good wholesome people – and
people who love horses - we had the best of times.
Afterwards, a man approached our table and said, “I want to
come see you. I have an idea.” Sherry and I said, “Come
on.” A few days later, Dr. Harry Anderson came driving up
Sitting at our kitchen table - having one of my special
“Killer Chicken Salad Sandwiches” I made for him – Dr. Harry
told us about his life…
“Grew up in North Dakota,” he said between bites.
“Graduated low in a class of fourteen. Voted “Least Likely
to Succeed,” he laughed, and I could tell he wasn’t
kidding. “But my wife, Margaret, believed in me. Found my
focus because of her, and eventually received my PhD in
Nutrition from South Dakota State University.”
Dr. Harry went on to explain he did the
professor/research thing for a time, then entered the
corporate world, and became a key feedlot nutritionist and
district manager for a major feed company. “In those days,”
he said, “the company I worked for believed the horse came
first, and customer service was critical. If we did those
two things well, marketing and sales success would naturally
follow.” Times were good. Later, new management came with
a different view.
The new breed thought less about the horse, was less
interested in customer service, and focused more on the
bottom line. Dr. Harry became disenchanted, and eventually
left to follow his dream – to create the best all-purpose
feed possible for the horse, and to keep the customer’s
needs right alongside those of the horse. He did so. Then,
he got in his truck pulling a trailer full of horse feed,
and started driving across America. Hardly anyone would buy
his feed. Years passed and Dr. Harry kept driving. Now the
“road that never ends” had brought him to our farm…and to
our kitchen table.
“I want to do a TV show,” he said, wiping the crumbs
away. “A three-minute embedded segment driven by questions
from viewers. I want to offer people a way to gain
information. There will be three of us. I’ll handle
questions about nutrition; Dr. J. D. Norris will answer
concerns involving areas such as hoof care, equine
dentistry, and other health issues. I want you to help
horse owners with the “mental” side of starting colts,
problem areas, and so on.” I said, “Okay,” wondering who in
the world could ever vote for this well-dressed, articulate,
intelligent man to be “least likely” at anything.
We pitched the show. While the people we were talking
to were very nice, it was clear as a bell they had little
interest. Afterwards, Dr. Harry gets in the truck and said,
“Man, that went well, didn’t it? They are going to do it.”
I’m thinking, “Did we just go to the same meeting?”
For the next five years, Dr. Harry comes by my
house when he is in the area - and while eating his chicken
salad sandwich – always says, “They are going to do the TV
show.” For five years he said that.
By this time, I have come to have a genuine fondness
for this fellow. As a youth, others looked down their noses
at him, but he rose to the heights of academia and gained
his doctorate. When the company he worked for forgot the
horse - and the human - he remembered the horse and the
human and did everything in his power to help them both.
When no one would buy his feed, he kept on. But now?
Now each time he drove away, there was some sadness in
me. What he was trying to do was…well, it was noble.
He was trying to do something good…and no one noticed. The
poor fellow just kept believing when there was no reason to
– and one day when he was driving away, down our lane headed
out again on that road that never ends – I said to my wife,
“You gotta watch people like him.”
“How so?” she asked, watching him drive away.
“People like him,” I said, “those people who keep on –
the ones who keep on believing no matter what…you gotta
watch people like that.”
Ed. Note: In January of 2012,
RFD-TV’s All Around Performance Horse TV, and Roping and
Riding with Tyler Magnus, will broadcast the first embedded
segment of The Advice Barn, a viewer call-in show hosted by
Dr. Harry Anderson, with featured guests, Dr. Michael
Johnson, and Dr. J. D. Norris.
The Advice Barn is sponsored by Total Feeds, Inc. maker of
Total Equine, Dr. Harry Anderson’s creation of an
all-purpose feed designed for the horse. Total Feeds, Inc.
sold thousands of tons of Total Equine last year.