Hello, horsey friends! Let me introduce myself. I’m Ansley…I’m 22 years old (YIKES) and I have been around horses my entire life. In fact, my first time showing was when I was only 2 years old on my mom’s old halter horse. I have derived so many life lessons from being involved in this sport for so long. Things that, to an “unhorsey” person, do not seem to be all that relevant.

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So, I hope to share some of these learning experiences with all of you. I would always find it funny when someone would use the cliché’ question “Um, were you raised in a barn?” Without intending to be a smart aleck I would respond with “Well…yes!” With that brief introduction, welcome to my blog, Raised in a Barn, because that has quite literally been the case for me!

I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible professionals, including spending a large part of my junior career with the late Mary Ann Parmalee. If there was one thing that “M.A.” was known for, it was her attention to detail. She expected perfection in everything, from in the saddle to in the barn. Just being able to ride your horse was not good enough, but do you know how to properly care for your horse? This is a philosophy that I have adopted, as I have too often noticed how much young riders rely on barn hands to handle the dirty work.

ansley first blog raised in a barn the carolinas equestrian 01

I was different than many of the junior riders I was competing against. My horse, Zeppelin (you will read a lot about him in the coming posts), lived at a “do it yourself” barn, where I literally had to do everything myself. While most kids in high school woke up with just enough time to throw on some clothes in order to make it to class before the bell, I was accustomed to 6 a.m. alarms so I could go feed and muck stalls. After school, I would eat my snack, normally Chex Mix, in the car on the fifteen-minute drive to the farm. I would ride, then repeat cleaning stalls, raking up scrap hay from the paddocks, cleaning water buckets and blanketing. My side hustle, if you will, was blanketing other horses to get a discounted board rate. This was my schedule every day for the better part of 4 years. But, looking back I am so thankful for those times.

What my experiences and time with Mary Ann taught me is the importance of being a good horsewoman. A good horsewoman does not ride her horse, then brush him off and leave the rest of the work for someone else. A good horsewoman goes the extra mile to make sure that her horse is taken care of to perfection. After all, if these horses are working so hard for us, don’t we owe it to them? I am strong in the belief that horses recognize who cares for them the most, and I believe this is one of the reasons that, even in semi-retirement, Zepp trots to me every time he sees me walking to the gate. 

 So, that was a way to jump right in! (Ha, get it?) I hope that gives you a taste for what is to come here on Raised in a Barn. Thank you in advance for following along with me. I hope each of you can relate to some part of these stories.