"Good Horsemanship is Built on Solid
Basics...So is Good Business!"
Business & Association Development, Marketing, Professional Workshops
forthe Horse Industry
What Does "Horse Professional" Mean To You?
by Lisa Derby Oden
You hear the term
over and over. The horse industry is represented by a
diverse group of participants. Riders, trainers, and instructors of the
disciplines; horse health care providers such as boarding stables, farriers,
veterinarians, and complementary care providers; feed companies; tack
stable equipment suppliers; builders and fencing companies; trailer sales;
show and recreation providers. This list is only a beginning. Many
industries and professions have standards that indicate how a person becomes
a "professional" within that field. Doctors go to medical school.
estate and insurance professionals are required to pass licensing. School
teachers must continue to gather staff development credits throughout
careers. These are a few examples. The horse industry is, once again,
horse of a different color. There are many opportunities for continuing
education, on and off the horse. There are also certifications and
competitive honors that can be gained. So then, what does "horse
professional" mean? The responses to a survey I conducted follow.
group of quotes came from people who earn money with horses. Here's what
"It's sort of
an old-fashioned term. It used to mean one who received
payment for teaching. Now I believe it refers to someone for whom it is
prime pattern for life. It is not a hit-or-miss thing, but rather a day
day activity. It may have to be dovetailed with something else, but it
not secondary to something else. Then, of course, there are the IRS
standards. A horse professional has training and the commitment to put
into practice. It is their prime dedication."
"Deep down inside,
I think of a professional horseman as someone who acts as
an educated horseman should - with knowledge, skill, and regard for the
horse. And an amateur as someone who acts like a rookie of sorts. But
outwardly, I think of a professional as someone who makes a living as
horseman, be he or she skilled or unskilled, knowledgeable or
unknowledgeable. And an amateur horseman as one who is involved with horses
as a hobby. An amateur may, however be more knowledgeable and skilled
"I think a professional
horseman is someone who takes money for working with
horses. Teaching, training, grooming, etc. Whereas an amateur does it
fun, not a living."
"I hate that
word. I think it is used too often by people who are trying to
sell something. But I feel it's someone who understands their capabilities
as an instructor. It also connotes the way you act around people, with
decorum and a good mindset. You get paid for the job you are doing, and
look at the content of what you can do. A professional doesn't tout it,
he/she just does it."
works with horses for money and consequently has to produce
results. Or is expected to produce results in a shorter period of time."
"One who specializes
in the equine profession and utilizes properties such
as patience, ethics, empathy, open communications, and safety for each
horse and rider as to ensure proper growth."
"As I view it,
the term "horse professional" refers to any individual who
makes or intends to make the majority of livelihood from some aspect of
horse business. It in no way implies knowledge, experience, or ethical
conduct any more than, for example, the term "Real Estate Professional"
means that you will encounter a truly qualified individual to help you
a real estate transaction."
"I think of it
as people in the teaching, training and boarding business.
But you have to have the right stuff. You need education, experience and
communication skills. Just because you have a big barn and can fill it
horses doesn't mean that you can teach and train."
sees the horse as more than a means to an end. Is aware they
don't know everything. Knows when to seek information or help from others.
Willing to listen to other concepts and ideas, maybe even have a lively
constructive debate! Helps other considerately when they can. (We've all
committed a faux pas at one time or another.) Keeps safety as a guideline
but at the same time has fun!"
The following are
quotes from people involved with horses but are not
earning money with them.
I don't get paid, I consider myself a horse professional. Most
people think a horse professional is someone who runs a horse business
some sort and gets paid for his/her endeavors. In my opinion, a true horse
professional is someone who is dedicated to whatever they do with horses.
Someone who has integrity and maintains high standards, genuinely caring
the well-being of the animal, the sport, and the industry in general.
horse professional is a person who shows a true love for their horse-related
activity regardless of the financial gain involved."
is an accomplished rider, has extensive knowledge of horse
health, and does training."
works at it 24 hours a day because no one else will."
"A horse professional
is two things: a rider who is continually training and
competing or a trainer who's continually learning."
"The person obtains
their financial security from their involvement with
horses. If you are not supporting yourself through your horse activities
then I'd consider you an amateur."
"A person who
has an academic background and training with horses who works
in the field full time. Professionalism involves continually learning
updating skills, and conducting yourself with high
standards and ethics."
It comes down to a
mix of these things, with the volume turned up more on
some qualities more than others: dedication, attitude, continual learning,
time investment, financial compensation, ethics, and behavior.
(Lisa Derby Oden has
been providing business development, marketing, and association consulting
services to the horse industry since 1995. Oden is author of "Growing
Your Horse Business" and "Bang For Your Buck: Making $ense of Marketing
For Your Horse Business." She is the 1999 AHC Van Ness Award recipient
for outstanding service to the horse industry. She can be reached at:
(603)878-1694; email at Lisa@horseconsulting.com;
or visit her
website at www.horseconsulting.com)