After sitting out the required five years, former World and Congress Champion open rider, Brian Isbell of Atlanta, Georgia has just started a new chapter in his horse show career as a Non Pro. Isbell debuted in the Non Pro Classes at the NSBA World Show with his new horse, David Buckham (Rodney). The new team won the Open and Non Pro BCF 3 to 6 Year-Old Color Hunter Under Saddle Classes.
"I'm glad to be back. I was a little nervous at first, but when I went into the pen it was like riding a bicycle, and I felt at home," Isbell recalls. "After not riding much in five years, my legs are really sore now, so, I definitely need to work on getting them stronger."
The five year-old hunter under saddle horse by All Time Fancy was the 2011 APHA Junior Hunter Under Saddle World Champion. Brian looks forward to showing Rodney in the hunter under saddle, pleasure driving, and showmanship at the APHA World Show. Their next show will be the Paint show held during the Reichert Celebration. Isbell also has a quarter horse mare, The Last Appeal, that he plans on showing in the pattern events under the supervision of Jenell Pogue. Their debut in the amateur events will be in a few weeks in Michigan.
"It is a different mind set showing in the Non Pro," Isbell says. "I think everyone including myself has to get used to the idea of me not being a professional any longer--including the judges. Some of the trainers also were joking how unfair it was for me to be able to show in the non pro. I know some people don't agree with me being able to compete as an amateur, but I knew that going in and I know it will take a while for some people to get used to the idea. Despite these challenges, I look forward to the new chapter in my life and can't wait to go to my next horse show."
Click here to read the very popular feature story we did on Brian in May of 2011.
I've had the opportunity to take a few lessons from Brian Isbell during my youth years...many, many years ago. My parents could only afford for me to haul in for a few lessons here and there. Even though I haven't seen him in quite a while, and I spent several years out of the show pen, I'm very happy for him to be doing what he loves again. Will I be a bit nervous to possibly have to show against him as an Amateur? Sure! Who wouldn't? BUT, it will definitely make me bring my "A" game to the pen. He went by the rules the Association requires, that's all a person can do. As a competitor we need to focus on our own riding and our own horses, not who we are showing against.
Pros should definitely be able to go nonpro if they want to. We here in Punta Gorda Florida are THRILLED to see our Rodney (Bred by Gene Gage) with Brian Isbell and Scott Suggs and wish this winning team great success. We will see you at the World Show. Gene
I certainly don't have a problem with Mr. Isbell competing with the non pros. It is legal and he waited the 5 years, but was it really that great of a victory? He was a professional in every sense of the word. He was a top rider amongst the professionals; has a great video on how to win at HUS. Just because he waited 5 years, does not mean that professional knowledge and skills left him. Anyway, I have no horse in this race as I don't even currently own a horse at this time, but him winning this event is similar to Michael Phelps winning a race in the kiddie pool at the local park. OK, maybe that is a little stretch, I don't mean to take anything away from the other amateur exhibitors as they are much better riders than I, but he was and is that good.
Unlimited funds do not assure anyone a win. Some of the finest outfitted individuals, on the most expensive horses in all the fancy ads, don't always win. Working hard at your skills does. Mr Isbell is a talented rider that can only raise the bar for other non pros given that he rides his own personal horses and keeps that side of the street clean.
I have to agree with the 2nd comment. There are a great number of non-pros who have unlimited funds to have the best and go to all the major circuits - does this mean they should not be considered non-pros because of the advantages some of us don't have? Mr. Isbell waited the 5 years imposed on him per AQHA regulations before he was able to show as a non-pro. While I no longer show as an amateur competed against some of the best years ago and did most of the training myself (sometimes sending my horses out) - I had a good horse, spent hours in the saddle and - Guess What? - The full-time trainers were always asking to ride my horse in the open classes because I was always winning. And I found most of these trainers were always willing to help even I wasn't in their barn full-time. I have a huge amount of pride in what I accomplished mostly on my own - earning Amateur and Open Superiors. Perhaps, if you know a trainer in your area you could ask them to evaluate your horse or maybe spend a day or two with them - I think most would try to help you.
Congrats Brian! I am very happy for you to come back and do what you love!
To the "True non Pro" I completely disagree with what you are saying his "advantages" are. He is a talented horseman who WORKED HARD to EARN his skill level. How is his "advantage" and different from the Non pro who has an unlimited budget to buy the very best and have it in full time training? Sounds to me like you're just jealous. Ride harder and BEAT him, how good would that feel? Brian followed the RULES set out by your associations so I don't see what the problem is!
P.S. In case you are wondering, I do not know nor have never met Mr. Isbell.
Brian Isbell Makes Successful Non Pro Debut at NSBA World Show
The years and years of the competitive advantages Brian received by riding top horses, receiving the money to make this a fulltime endeavor and competing at shows week in and week out surely doesn't provide an equal playing field for the true non pro. It will be interesting to see how this all falls out.