Does it ever feel like life is just flying by? The other day I was talking to a friend about how crazy busy I have been and how many different jobs I have. We were discussing the Belgian Warmblood Paard Keuring Tour this summer where we travel around the country inspecting horses for the studbook. (More on this subject to come in a later blog.)
This is one of the various positions I have undertaken—I have a problem with trying to do too many things. I’m on the board of the BWP Studbook where I write articles for our Stallion Guide, travel with the inspector/judge for about one week every summer, and whatever other various tasks I am assigned.
I also have my numerous “hats” that I wear here at AliBoo: breeder, rider, manager, trainer. Managing includes overseeing everything associated with all of these areas, plus all of the office work. We have 22 horses, and I ride anywhere from 6-10 a day. I write my blog here for the Chronicle, although that is a “fun job,” not necessarily a “work job.” Lastly, I am a part-time student.
This is when my friend said to me, “You’re in college?” She was surprised. I knew after I graduated high school that I somehow wanted to make my career in horses. Yet, unlike many other professions, in the horse world you can be one of the best and never need a college degree to succeed. In fact, many of my friends who also graduated around the same time as me decided to simply skip school and go straight into the horses. I hear all the time of kids who decide they’re going to try to become professionals and don’t need to go to school. I don’t think they realize just how hard it is to make a living with horses. When I read Kristin Carpenter's blog on the Chronicle about this subject , it was so true.
After high school, I took a year off because I felt I’d lost a year of riding after my surgeries, and I really just wanted time to focus on my riding. I knew all along though that I’d be going to college. When I was a teenager, I had these grand illusions of becoming a veterinarian or neurosurgeon (I loved my surgeon and wanted to take after him). When I realized just how much those would consume my life, and as I got more into breeding, I decided a simple business degree would suffice. Nobody ever knows what the future will hold, and if circumstances change because of any reason, I want to have something to fall back on. The business world is so competitive today that it’s very difficult to obtain a position without having a college degree. In addition, we have all of these talks about making the horse world more professional and improving communication. Would that not start with having “business sense”?
I grew up with two parents who are entrepreneurs. They’ve made themselves very successful in their chosen industries. Living and working with my mom is like having my very own incredible personal college professor. She’s taught me so much, and I owe everything to her. She’s the first one to tell you how important common sense and hands-on experience are in business. But my mom has also always stressed the importance of a degree because it lends you credibility. She always told me, “I don’t care if it takes you double the amount of time to finish; you just have to have a degree.”
With all of my different responsibilities, I realized I would most likely not be able to go away to college for four years like a “traditional student.” Nor would I be able to attend school full time with 20 credit hours each semester because I just wouldn’t be able to handle everything. Thus, I looked into schools that were accredited, flexible and would allow me to take classes online. I started my classes about two years ago, and I’ll need another year or two to finish. I only take 10 credit hours a semester, but I go year round in an effort to finish slightly faster.
If I could give one piece of advice to young professionals, it would be to recognize the importance of a degree, even if you only go part time, and it takes you longer to finish. You never know when that degree is going to help you obtain a sponsorship, help you write contracts to protect yourself, or better your “business skills” to run a successful barn.
Chronicle blogger Taylor Flury rides out of her family's AliBoo Farm in Minooka, Ill., and competes primarily in the jumpers. Flury's top mount is the U.S.-bred Role Model (Roc USA—Darling Devil), who claimed U.S. Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year titles in 2011 and 2012 in the 5- and 6-Year-Old Jumper divisions Their story includes brain surgeries and broken shoulders along with the blue ribbons.
Want to know more about Taylor and Role Model? Read the article that appeared in the March 19, 2012 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse .