Professional (noun): A person engaged in a specified activity, especially a sport or branch of the performing arts, as a main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.
I am a professional equine photographer.
I am an amateur rider (trust me, if you saw me ride, this would be abundantly clear).
I do not train horses.
I do not get paid to ride, lunge, etc any horse.
I happen to be a social media “influencer” with a decent size following.
I am an “influencer” not because of my riding abilities.
I am an influencer because of my photography, modeling, & writing abilities. I am an influencer because of my marketing abilities. I am an influencer because of my understanding of social media platforms. None of these things correlate with my ability to ride or train any horse.
100% of my annual salary comes from being an equine photographer. Not once have I made a dime off riding or training a horse.
I will likely be considered a professional in 2021 instead of an adult amateur.
Which blows my mind in a lot of ways.
This means I would have to compete against professional horse trainers at recognized shows.
I will have to take my little rescue mare into the ring & stand up against professional trainers.
But I am simply a professional photographer & model aka “influencer.”
My ability to use social media to create a personal brand has absolutely zero to do with my ability to ride or train my horse well.
My personal brand & social media following is the reason I am able to be self employed and work full time as an equine photographer.
Brands choose to work with me because I have a large audience that I have worked hard to obtain. They choose to work with me because I have professional camera equipment & can model their items.
The brands that I work with are not selecting me as an influencer for any of their campaigns because of my riding ability. My social media following was not obtained by being a highly skilled professional rider. Heck, for the first year I was growing my instagram account, I could barely even canter my horse, let alone train or ride professionally.
If I’m going to have to compete against true professional horse trainers, than can we level the playing field a bit & some of my score can be based off my ability to market products effectively?
How about these professional trainers have to take my camera for a spin in manual mode & prove they can take professional quality images? How about they have to get thousands of likes on a single post & reach 100k people?
If I have to compete against them as an amateur at their true profession, then I should have some sort of leverage & they should have to compete against me at the thing I am actually a professional at.
If I have to choose between being an AA or being a social media influencer, I will choose being an influencer every time. Why? Because that's what enables me to work for myself to afford to even go to a show in the first place.
In all honesty though, my status doesn’t matter much to me.
I don’t compete for ribbons or a win. I compete to see if CP & I are better together than we were at the previous show together.
Riding & especially showing is an immense privilege, so instead of wasting any further energy on this subject, I’ll be working hard to become the absolute best amateur rider I can be. For CP, not for anyone else.