From the Ground Up: Building Your Network

Gillian Warner is bringing us along for the ride as she strikes out on her own to launch her business as a professional. You can catch up on the preceding columns from this series here.

Surrounding yourself with a network that pushes you to develop as a horse(wo)man ensures progress to being the best version of yourself possible.

Over my junior, young rider, and now my professional career, I have been so lucky to have countless coaches, trainers, mentors, and friends who support me, encourage my crazy ideas, challenge new ideas, push me to grow, and allow me to take risks. I’m surrounded by compassionate, driven, and hard working horsemen and women who inspire me in my own path.

Identifying role models in my life has been an important step for me, especially as I work to establish myself as a professional. Finding other horsemen and women that share similar values as I do has been instrumental in developing my training approach, philosophy, and outlook on my personal and professional careers.

Who qualifies as a role model for me is so broad. I find inspiration in the excitement my new beginner students bring to their lessons. I admire horsemen like Mark Rashid and Buck Brannaman for their consistent and thoughtful approach to horsemanship. As I mentioned in a previous article, Luke Gingerich’s open-mindedness spurs my own creativity to think outside of the box. Female business owners and entrepreneurs provide guidance and strength when I’m feeling uncertain of my next steps. My trainers, such as Ange Bean and Doug and Jess Payne, approach training in a way that prioritizes the horses’ welfare, bringing biomechanics and science into work that values feel and connection as well.

I have role models outside of the equine industry as well, found in my college professors’ critical thinking, my friends’ adventurous spirits, my parents’ and grandparents’ commitment, love, and hard work, and my sisters’ light and passion for everything she does.

My family is filled with role models that encourage me in my life-long learning process.

Pulling from the philosophies, approaches, and spirit of such a diverse group has allowed me to approach any situation as a student with curiosity that drives genuine questions, collaboration, and experimentation that might feel like a bold leap of faith, but instead leads to new opportunities and solutions.

By keeping this open-minded, creative, life-long-learner spirit in my work has encouraged me to continue connecting with new role models. Reaching out to strangers who are working hard, trying something new, passionate about what they do, and who share values has allowed me to connect with an ever expanding network that continues to push me to grow and change every day.

I’ve walked up to people registering voters on the street to thank them for their work and learn more about what motivates them. I’ve reached out to individuals on Instagram that have introduced me to something new, or have spurred my thinking. I’ve connected with trainers that share mutual friends about their work, and how we could support one another.

Inspiration can originate anywhere, and developing your network with role models that share your values, challenge your approach, stimulate your thinking, and support your growth can lead to opportunities, thoughts, and ideas you never could have previously imagined.

Who can you connect with today?