I was really disappointed a few days ago when reading some comments on Eventing Nation in response to Will Faudree's support of PRO.
PRO is an organization that was put together by Professionals to better the Sport we not only make a living at but are also incredibly passionate about. Our simple idea was to build the sport by promoting its strengths... showcasing Top Professionals that demonstrate not only excellent ability in the tack but the ability to reach out to to people beyond the small world that is Three Day Eventing.
The reason we want to attract outside people to join the "CLUB" the club being "Eventing" not just "Professionals" is for many reasons. First to attract prize money. This prize money attracts spectators which in turn sets a high standard for the Events that the Organizers can afford to provide. That standard will be reflected in a promotable venue but also put an emphasis on good footing for our precious horses and ensure a high level of safety in that of course design and building. This affects not just the Professional but the adult amature, the young rider, the weekend warrior and every member of the club. This emphasis on safety also encourages a higher level of training and knowledge which also effects all levels of the sport. To be direct we can not invite outside people to view our sport and display poor riding, poor horsemanship and in worst case scenario a preventable accident involving horse or rider. This is where PRO comes in...
I have a healthy amount of ego that allows me to believe in myself and what I do, but I am certainly aware of my weaknesses. Yes PRO does have ego. We sat down a few years ago and looked at our sport and said how can we make this thing that we believe in and are good at grow. In this conversation we did not sit down and pat each other on the back we said "We are crap at reaching out to the general public, we are crap at taking a shower at the end of a long day and going out and socializing with people that could help our sport grow,we are crap at promoting ourselves and our sport, we are great at complaining to the organizers, complaining to the USEA, we are great at working long hours that are self serving in that we are just growing our own individual business and not actually working together to grow our sport. WE ARE GOOD AT WHAT WE DO, WE ARE HARD WORKERS, WE ARE HORSE LOVERS, WE ARE CHARISMATIC, WE ARE DETERMINED, WE ARE DRIVEN, WE ARE EVENTERS so we developed PRO to use the PRO's to PROmote EVENTING!
PRO has done some amazing things in the past two years. Free course walks, bringing prize money to events to help the organizers ( I realize this is at the top level but the intention is to have a trickle down effect), We have created a format to promote safe riding in young rider training divisions and offered free training for a week with Professionals for the winners, We have joined a group that connects athletes to charities.. PRO has joined up with Operation Home front as a group ( this being a charity that helps the families of the military.. since that is our sports foundation), we have also as individuals joined with athletes for hope.. which helps us in our hometowns to connect with charities that are special to us, there are several other things that we have done and several things we have on our agenda to keep improving not only events but education on all levels.
I understand that the name PRO insinuates it is an organization only for Professional Riders but that name is there to set a tone, not define the group. The tone is intended for the person outside the sport looking in. If PRO Tour is put on a program it assumes a certain high standard. The standard also implies that the organization is "RUN" by people very well educated and immersed in the sport this does not limit the voices in the organization. I was genuinely shocked at some of the reactions to the name of this organization. I assumed due to the fact that all Eventers, at all levels, are so intertwined that the intent of the naming the organization "PRO" would be obvious not offencive to those whom assumed they were not included in this PROgression of the sport. But you know what they say about people that "Assume" ... and i am guilty of assuming as well as certain others.
I hate talking about problems but I love problem solving.I have trouble speaking to people that are so focused on everything that is wrong... If you are going to point out a problem to me then you better have enough time to sit down with me and figure out a solution. PRO is a group that is "run" by the "Harvard Graduates" but that is only so we have a well educated panel to give our organization some depth and a respectable voice. That voice comes from "all members and all levels" in the organization. So I suggest becoming part of the solution, get involved even if that means bringing specific problems to the table and sitting there with us while we figure out a solution.
My promise as an Executive Board Member of PRO is that if you get involved and use your voice in a room where problems have a chance to be solved and an idea has a chance of becoming a reality you will not be disappointed. "We" can all be in the "Club" of PROmoting positve change in Eventing.