I had finished school, moved to Oregon and began riding again. At that point I lived for the enjoyment of those moments in the saddle, the peace and reformation that was created in each second coexisting with a creature far superior in stature and power. I might have been crooked coming into the bending, but by god did I want to jump that giant oxer! Because I enjoyed my work I was "undisciplined" and because I did not fear for my appearance or the perception of my mistakes, I was "unprofessional." Incorrectly, I was told to associate professionalism with infallibility; professional riders aren't crooked, they don't miss distances, they don't ask for help and most certainly they do not display weakness.
I became paralyzed with the anticipation of all possible mistakes that I was incapable of feeling in the moment. I developed a distrust of my feel and my instincts and became an insufferable and stiff partner to the horses that had to tote me around. This is to say that it has taken a lot of courage to venture off on my own and I don't take the responsibility lightly. However, being the sole captain to this venture I now have the freedom to define my OWN responsibilities, to chisel out what exactly I believe an equestrian professional to be.
On the forefront, I demand an entire uprooting of the concept of the faultless professional, a concept that presupposes that equine professionals are free from the need to push boundaries and continually educate themselves. I demand that professionals challenge themselves. They must seek out horses that teach them the art of patience and proper training. They must clinic, lesson and show continually.
These professionals, unabashed to challenge themselves to clinic with George or move up in height, are the inspiration to their riders. It is our responsibility as equine professionals after all, to teach our students that struggle and adversity is a necessary part of the learning process. It is this devout love of learning and overcoming challenges that builds confidence and character, in ourselves, in our horses and most importantly in our students.