I've really struggled with this whole Amateur status thing the past few months as the USDF year wrapped up. We have a team of people now, a team of horses in training, and we're officially FEI competitors (what?!). Granted, those horses in training are all mine and we don't do any lessons, training, or boarding. According to the USEF rules, I am good to go as an amateur. But still... when we show up at shows we do look pretty pro when I stop to look around. Our journey has been a fast one and one I'm super proud of. But still, we were just amateurs by the definition so I am happy to go along with that. No pressure, no push. But still! When did we go from sitting at the kids table to the adults?
Lately though, I've been pondering the idea of "image" vs "actuality." Image wise, we look professional (apparently based on the people asking if we offer grooming services, training, or the like) but actually, we've walked the amateur line really closely. Maybe a bit too closely so I called the USEF for clarification. Basically, they will not talk to anyone on the phone and require it all to be written in emails and they'll make their decisions based on that. Ugh, ok.
While thinking about how to explain what we do, I began to think this might be less hassle to just go pro. But once you go black, er, pro, you don't go back. At least not without some time and paperwork.
Once you get to FEI level competition, you don't really get any scoring breaks for qualifying rounds for Regionals so that's not really an issue for me. Granted, at the lower levels it is, but we can get those scores anyhow at this point so it's a bit moot for me (who AM I?). I'll be lumped with the other Open riders and make placements difficult. Since we're mostly focused on our sales horses right now and "just" getting my scores over 60% with Vana, again, not really a bit point for me. Besides, we've been knocking on those placement scores anyhow at the Amateur level without really prepping for it. So basically, it's a "why not" type of situation for most people I think. I can only liken this to one's virginity (sorry). It's one of those things that you wonder if you'll miss once you lose it. Have I done everything as an amateur I set out to do? Does it mess up any plans that I might want to do in the future? What if, what if?
With all these hypothetical, I just stopped myself before a Titanic (see above) move and just settled into one of my million other projects to avoid a decision. Answers always show up when I least expect them and I've learned that pushing something never works out in my case. This debate was going to have to wait. And it has, MONTHS now. I was asking these questions last year as a hypothetical and NOT wanting to think about jumping but now... now I feel like a choice is going to have to come up.
Enter the paint horses.
OK, maybe not exactly like that. Perhaps a bit more.. feral. During my ongoing horse hunting efforts, I've been giving plenty of "almost" horses lately and nothing that was quiet right or worth our time and effort. And then these paint horses came across my radar... an untouched black and white mare with matching colt. They were my ideal price and are gorgeous. The story behind them is pretty unexciting so I headed out to get them. While we were there, the current owner asked about our training and prices. While I tried to talk him out of it (again as I had on the phone), he asked me to check out his paint horse that had been with a previous trainer for a bit. I tested the guy out and a check was written for him to go into training.
And just like that... I'm a professional. Three new horses and a check for training. That's all it takes. A bit like losing one's virginity...