by Michele Scott
My parents are the original American Dreamers who started Professional’s Choice over thirty-six years ago. Along the way, there have been plenty of tough times and some great times. In each step along the way, we always moved forward by listening to and growing with our horses, while striving to make the lives of our horses more comfortable.
Where We Came From
Over the years, I have been asked innumerable times, exactly how Professional’s Choice 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. My parents had recently bought a home with a little land on it where it was possible to maintain horses. The neighbors across the street had a pony, and occasionally I would go over and get a ride, but that didn’t satisfy me. I wanted my own horse. Luckily for me, my dad had grown up with horses on a ranch, 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. So it was not long before Dad brought home this gentle giant of a horse named Ivan, who was some kind of Draft/Quarter thing. Ivan stood about 16.3 and had a butt on him that felt wider than riding a bus. I have no clue as to what Dad paid for this horse, but whatever it was, he proved to be worth millions. He taught so many people how to ride– kids and adults from ages six to sixty. He had to have been one of God’s angels on this Earth, because Ivan genuinely loved people and other animals. Ivan passed away when he was about thirty years old and he’s buried on my parents’ property under his favorite tree.
Getting back to my story, one day Dad brings home Ivan, and my little six year old brain is running in over-drive because all I want to do is get home from school and ride this horse. The only problem is that I need Dad to also get home from work to supervise me as I ride. At the time, Dad is in the car industry and working extremely long hours. Finally, Dad can’t withstand my begging and pouting any longer, and he comes home early to take me out on Ivan. We hadn’t even had a chance to buy a saddle yet, all I have is a bareback pad on him. Knowing that I have no clue about riding, he tells me, “Now we’re gonna go out behind the houses there on that trail, and you’re only to walk him.” I nodd, my pony tail bobbing in the air (this was the days before the helmets were 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, all of which is another story).
Ivan and I set out on the trail at a walk. My dad has one of those little putt-putt motorbikes, and he follows close behind us. We get to the end of the trail and turn around, and my 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 so that he doesn’t get too excited.” Not feeling too concerned, I respond with “Ok, Daddy.” However, as I turn Ivan around our plan goes terribly awry. With his nose pointed towards home, Ivan takes off heading for his barn at full speed, leaving Dad in the dust. We go up and over a little hill and and I come off, landing on my butt in some sand. I’m OK and Ivan pulls up at barn, but I look back to see Dad who has wiped out on his bike. It turns out that Dad has not fared as well as myself and Ivan - in fact we discover that he has broken his leg in several places. Luckily, despite having to wear a cast for weeks, Dad is one of those optimistic, ‘the glass is half full types,’ and finds a way to improve his situation. One day shortly afterwards, he is sitting out by the pool and feeling frustrated that he can’t get in the water because it will get his cast wet.
This one wish and simple idea sets in motion a series of events that leads to the creation of a product called “The Dri-Cast,” a neoprene cast protector allows him to get into the pool without getting his cast wet. After the cast on his leg comes off, Dad decides to try to market the product to the public. So The Dri-Cast is developed and mass produced for sale, soon becoming a big success. After this, another light bulb goes off in Dad’s head and he is moved to invent his next product. After thinking about the different products that are available to protect humans’ legs, he realizes that there really is nothing available to protect and support a horse’s leg. Upon this realization he goes on a mission to create a supportive leg boot for horses. He starts talking to vets, trainers, and professionals in the equestrian world and eventually creates what he coins as the “Polo Boot.” And that is the first proto-type of a boot that would ultimately become the first Sports Medicine Boot and lead to the creation of our company, Professional’s Choice.