The American Dream
My parents are American Dreamers. They started Professional's Choice over thirty-six-years ago. There have been some tough times and some great times. I think probably most of the time we are always learning, growing, and striving to make the lives of horses more comfortable.
I have been asked over the years how the company was started. I have to take credit for that. Well, sort of. You see, I fell in love with horses when I was about five-years-old and my parents bought a house with a little land on it where we could have horses. The neighbors across the street had a pony I would go over and ride, but that didn't satisfy me. I wanted my own horse. Lucky for me that my dad had grown up on a ranch and had always had horses as a kid, so he was pretty much on the same page as I was. I'm not sure how my mom felt about it, but she got on board soon enough, and Dad brought home this giant of a horse named Ivan. Ivan was a gentle giant. He was some kind of draft/Quarter thing. He was about 16. 3 and had a butt on him that was about as wide as a bus. I have no clue what Dad paid for this horse, but whatever it was, he proved to be worth a million dollars and then some. Ivan passed away when he was about thirty-years-old and he's buried on my parents' property under his tree. He taught so many people how to ride--kids and adults. He had to have been one of God's angels on this Earth because Ivan genuinely loved people and other animals.
So, Dad brings home Ivan, and for a week my little six-year-old brain is in over drive because all I want to do is get home from school and ride this horse, and all I want Dad to do is get home from work so that I can ride this horse. At the time, my dad was in the car industry and he worked extremely long hours. Finally, I guess Dad couldn't withstand my begging and pouting any longer, and he came home early to take me out on Ivan. We hadn't even had a chance to buy a saddle yet, so he puts a bareback pad on him and hikes me up on his back. He tells me, "Now we're gonna go out behind the houses there on that trail, and you're only to walk him." I nodded, my pony tail bobbing in the air (this was the days before the helmet was mandatory and en vogue--I can tell you that my dad had me wearing a helmet long before most kids and that had to do with one ornery pony I grew up with, which is a later blog story to come).
I did as I was instructed and took Ivan out on the trail at a walk. My dad had one of those little putt-putt motorbikes and he followed behind us on it. We get to the end of the trail and turn around and Dad says, "Okay, now this horse knows it's close to his dinner time and he also knows he's headed to the barn. You are not to go any faster than a walk."
I am sure that my response was, "Okay, Daddy." I'm just sure it was. However, it didn't go down quite like that. Within a couple of minutes Ivan was headed to the barn at full speed and Dad was in the dust. We went over a hill and down the hill, and I came off, landed on my butt in some sand. Ivan ran back to the barn, and Dad wiped out on his bike--big time. He broke his leg in several places.
Now, sometimes you can look at a broken leg and think, "This really sucks." However, my dad is one of those 'the glass is half full types,' and he was sitting out by the pool with his cast on trying to figure out how he could get into the pool without getting the cast wet. This set in motion a series of events. The short version is that Dad created a product called The Dri-Cast, and this neoprene cast protector allowed him to get into the water without getting the cast wet.
The cast came off, the product was developed along with a few more and then another light bulb moment occurred. Dad realized at the time there was nothing really great available to protect and support a horse's leg. He started talking to vets, trainers, any professional he could in the equestrian world and he came up with what he coined as the polo boot. It went from there. Since those early days, we've come a long way, but the focus remains the same--The Horse.
You never know how things are going to turn out. Who would have thought that a gentle giant (and he really was) headed to the barn with a pipsqueak of a kid falling off his back, causing a dad to break his leg and then invent a product would then one day turn into a company that is the market leader renowned for revolutionizing the equine industry. We've done it through not only diligent scientific research, but also through dreaming and tenacity. One thing I do know after watching my family build a company over three decades is that a lot of hard work and good people goes into it. Nothing comes easy, but when done with the right intentions, somehow (I believe) God puts His hand in it and stirs it a bit, and dreams become realities.
I'd love to hear about your dreams and how your horse(s) help them come true.
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