By Rob Jacobs
Like most Junior riders, when I was a child I thought the only paths in the equestrian industry were the ones I saw regularly. The trainer, barn manager, blacksmith and the veterinarian play active roles in the sport and are seen most often. As I got older and began to develop a wider range of experiences around the country, I became increasingly aware of the seemingly unlimited number of professions in the equestrian industry. Not only did I learn of riding disciplines I had never heard of, I also learned of so many new ways people used their talent to further our industry. Some use their talent on an enjoyment or hobby level, and others use their talent professionally.
In my March column, “Staying Grounded While Continuing to Grow,” I mentioned the importance of operating from a perspective of service. If we blend a service mentality with an equestrian’s use of talent, the industry will continue to move forward and do so at a healthy pace. As I realized talent extends further than choosing one of the four professions I mentioned earlier, I became increasingly interested in networking with other professionals who are talented in similar ways as I, but also those who are talented in very different ways. There are countless equine-related jobs in marketing, communications, chiropractic work, holistic wellness, dentistry, nutrition, judging, stewarding, photography, tack/equipment sales, the nonprofit sector and many others.
If we’re realistic, not every person should attempt to be a professional trainer or professional rider. A person may have far more success serving a different part of our community. I’ve learned how important it is to cover all aspects of the industry. If a program has an exceptional trainer and rider but no one educated in nutrition and dentistry, the health and performance of the animals will suffer. I can speak at length about this, but I believe you understand my point that success occurs when people bring their individual talents together with the goal of improving the animals, people and industry as a whole.
Everyone has natural talent. It’s our duty to identify the area of our talent and further develop it. Developing our individual talent, I believe, is a part of the responsibility we have to ourselves as well as to the industries we participate in. Not only do I believe this makes our industry better, I’m also convinced this makes people happier and more fulfilled. I am sincerely interested in serving my communities knowing the outcome will produce a better quality of life for myself and a more authentic version of myself. At our core, we are all similar that way. We desire to become better versions of ourselves. Some people may actively pursue it more than others, but the desire is in us all.
It’s special to be involved in the equestrian sport and attend competitions at the level I’m able to attend. I’m able to open my eyes, look around and see so much happening. I see a lot of talent walking around the horse show, from the skilled announcer who can pronounce every name correctly to the judge who works diligently to evaluate each performance in an unbiased way. Those who are successful have figured out for themselves where their talent is, and have become strategic and creative in further developing their talent. When observed, their contribution to the sport is undeniable.
Rob, showing Up North in the 3’3” Performance at Thermal, encourages equestrians to “look for opportunities to discover your talent like you would look at your next jump.”
Photo by ESI Photography