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Chicago #FemmeNouvelle: Pamela Flanagan

Pamela Flanagan (PF) is a modern day Renaissance woman extraordinaire. Attorney, model, polo player, horse enthusiast, horse rescuer, non-profit business mogul...the list goes on, but PF has her juggling act down and makes it look easy.

PF earned both her B.B.A. and J.D. from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, and is now a Texas-licensed attorney at Flanagan Bilton specializing in lowering property taxes on commercial buildings. While at SMU PF co-founded the university's horse polo team, and has carried over her love of the game and ponies by continuing to play and spearheading kill pony rescue efforts (more on that below).

While studying for the Texas Bar exam, PF began making prints using the thousands of photos she had taken on a 3-month long trip to Argentina to hang in her apartment. What began as a creative outlet and "a break from mundane legal lectures" turned into a successful side business - Polo Pony Prints - when friends noticed the prints and wanted custom ones for themselves. Since rescuing her first horse in October 2016, all proceeds go towards rescuing horses.

To top it off, PF is a model for the United States Polo Association clothing line, and a brand ambassador for the Hawaii Polo Life and American Equus. Here is her take on success and more:

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The Nouvelle Connection (The NC): What is your definition of success?

PF: Happiness. If you are happy person then I feel you are a successful person. I believe happiness often comes from doing good, whether that is helping others, or as simple as eating healthy and being active. Doing good fuels happiness and happiness, in my opinion, is success.

The NC: How did you decide to devote your free time to rescuing kill pen ponies?

PF: At first it was not a conscience decision. I found an online ad for a young horse and was curious as to why she was so inexpensive, when I called to get more information I learned the story behind her price tag. She was priced at her “meat price,” approximately 50 cents a pound.

Honestly buying her was not a highly ruminated decision, it was more a knee jerk reaction powered by my love for horses. That choice snowballed into buying 5 rescue horses in 10 months. Watching them grow and knowing that sharing their success is aiding in the rescue of other horses makes me happy and proud.

The NC: Did you always want to become a lawyer?

PF: My father is lawyer, 3 of my older brothers are lawyers and my little sister just graduated from law school. Unlike horses, law was never a “passion” of mine so to speak. However, I understood the importance of education, and if working as an attorney can help me to pursue my passion for rescuing horses and playing polo, then it is well worth the hard work.

The NC: How did you get involved in/introduced to the polo scene?

PF: I have been riding all my life, but started playing polo while at boarding school at Culver Academies, since then I have played all over the US, and in Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, and China.

Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “a polo handicap is your passport to the world,” could not be closer to the truth!

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The NC: What daily habits/life hacks are paramount to you?

PF: Sleep well and exercise daily. Even if exercising means walking your dog, it is better than nothing. I made up an easy little workout routine that is quick, simple yet challenging, on the days where I don’t ride, and don’t exercise, I try to do my little routine at least one time through (ideally 2x). I would say staying hydrated is equally important, but I’d be a total hypocrite, I am so guilty of not drinking enough water… but that being said, you totally should!

The NC: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve learned to overcome professionally?

PF: Taking initiative despite feeling uncertain. I have found that every person who starts at a new job has questions, feels uncertain at times and may occasionally feel lost, I too have experienced those feelings. I have learned to get past that feeling by simply asking questions and taking initiative. If something you believe to be beneficial doesn’t exist, create it. If you’re unsure of something, ask, if others don’t know, research.

The NC: 5 things you recommend for women pursuing a career in law?

PF:

  • 1. Plan ahead
  • 2. Keep your grades up
  • 3. Take the LSAT seriously. Take it as many times as needed to get the score you want. Higher score means more scholarship money which means less student debt.

And once you are in law school...

  • 4. Make friends
  • 5. Have an outlet. Making friends is so important, law school is challenging, you want to surround yourself with people who are in the same situation as you. Having an outlet is also important, you’ll hear horror stories of kids being burnt out by week two, but don’t let that be you; be sure to live your life and take time to do what you love.
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The NC: How do you find balance and prioritize with such a busy schedule?

PF: I have a busy schedule because I choose to keep myself busy. My horse rescue efforts and polo related activities do take time and energy but I do not consider the time and effort put towards those actives as “work.” In fact, when I get bored or tired, I take a break, for me that consists of checking in on my horses, reading horse training books, looking up recent slaughter legislation, checking out upcoming tournaments, or doodling on a photo in hopes to make a cool new print. These activities energize me, I am passionate about them. It may seem like I am balancing these activities, but in reality, these activities are balancing me.

The NC: In what ways can people help to spread awareness about Kill Pens and get involved?

PF: Before spreading awareness, you must educate yourself. The issue of horse slaughter in the US is complex. Do not be afraid to read various opinions, you must hear everyone’s opinion before you create your own. As Abraham Lincoln once said: “be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” If you do choose to rescue a horse, share their story! I have made it a point to share the stories of my rescues on my social media platforms. Doing so has encouraged others to rescue as well, I have helped friends rescue nearly a dozen horses this year.

The NC: What advice would you have for young women in general today?

PF: Be honest and be kind.

*Editor's Note*

Read on here to learn more about kill pen rescue efforts and PF's personal journey.

You can also view progression pictures and keep up with current updates and horses available for adoption by following along on Instagram @pamela_alina

To learn more about the horse slaughter industry, watch the documentary From the Kill Pen - "Horse slaughter is more than inhumane. It's big business."

All proceeds from PF's unique collection, Polo Pony Prints, go towards rescuing horses.

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