This Is My Stage
About Me

Ashley.  The vital stats: I'm a twenty-something-year-old Arizona native, an urban cowgirl, and country girl at heart.  Done the higher education thing and have the irrelevant degree to prove it.  When I'm not with the horses, my other interests are divided between writing, music, cooking, and any a study of that which will further hone my writing craft (good books, good movie, good TV).  I'm a performer, from acting classes to horse show arenas, and even now, with a focus on the endurance trail, it's still a stage to me.

As of January 2012, I'm employed by Lander Industries, Inc., makers of the Renegade Hoof Boots. 

Horse History and Background

I started riding at age 7.  At age 10, I was introduced to the Pony of the Americas (POA) breed and started my foray into the show arena.  The main focus of the POA breed is versatility and a safe, sane youth breed.  In one show, riders (age 18 and under) and ponies typically compete across multiple disciplines and events: Western and English Pleasure and Equitation, Reining and Western Riding, Halter and Showmanship, Jumping, and Gymkhana.

At age 11, I got my first horse (pony), Skip Me Gold.  The moment I sat in her saddle the first time, something 'clicked'.  I had found my equine soul mate, my heart horse of a lifetime.  It shouldn't have worked...she was a green-broke 3-year-old, I was a tentative kid who had ridden nothing but seasoned school horses my entire life.  But thanks to living five minutes away from my very dedicated trainer, a lot of wet saddle blankets, a few rough spots, and more than one close encounter with the ground, Mimi and I forged ourselves into a team.  In 2002, we earned our final points needed for the POAC Supreme Champion award: The award given to those ponies who earn sufficient points in Halter, Non-Timed Events, and Timed Events to qualify for a Register of Merit (ROM) in each of those categories.

Our horizons started changing.  After several years of watching me go around in circles, my father decided he wanted a horse of his own.  He purchased a seasoned Foxtrotter mare with tons of trail experience, and I followed him right out of the arena and into the spectacular world of long distance trail riding.  Mimi and I started our distance career in 2002 in NATRC.  In 2005, we did out first Limited Distance 25-mile AERC ride.  In 2008, we did our first 50-mile endurance ride, joined by my father and his Shagya Arabian gelding.

Endurance has been a long, slow process for me, with a limited number of competition miles to my name at this point.  But it's been about so much more than just the competition miles.  What those miles don't tell you is how many miles went into training, how many hours were spent around the horses, both in and out of the saddle.  "Enduring" endurance has been more than just the ride itself: It's been working with limited time and resources, with a horse that has never been an "ideal" endurance mount, balancing an outside life and obligations.  Every mile has been a learning experience, with thousands of learning opportunities along the way.
Mimi is now retired from competition due to age and her early years of use catching up to her.  She is still a fabulous trail pony, so I'm stepping in to keep her that way...sound and useable.

Barefoot Hooves, Trimming, and Renegade Boots
My journey towards taking horses barefoot started in earnest in 2004.  Prior to that, I had pulled shoes on Mimi a couple of times, usually only lasting a couple of months during the break between the fall and spring show seasons.  In 2004, my father purchased a 5-year-old Shagya Arabian gelding who had been barefoot his whole life.  His feet were beautiful, and we were determined to keep them that way.  Once we started riding him in earnest, out veterinarian recommended Renegade Hoof Boots, which were just then coming onto the market.  NATRC regulations at the time prevented use of those boots in competition, so we became intimately familiar with the messy process of foaming on Easyboots for those rides.

In 2007, our focus changed entirely to AERC rides, and both my father and I have used exclusively Renegades since that point.  They're my favorite boot on the market, and one I will personally stand behind.  They're easy to put on and take off, but don't readily come off on their own.  They're made for the performance barefoot hoof, designed to support hoof function, but not restrict it.

I've since become a regular contributor to the Renegade News Page, as well as staying up-to-date on new happenings in the hoof boot world.
Along the way, the inevitable happened: I became fascinated with the barefoot hoof.  Suddenly, slapping a boot on, hoping it stayed on for the ride, and calling the farrier out every four weeks wasn't enough.  So I learned how to barefoot trim my own horses.  I started doing all of our trimming in the summer of 2009.  It's an ongoing learning process, and one that still fascinates me.  Each day finds me looking for ways to further my education, be it through learning the mechanics of the hoof, equine physiology, affects of hoof boots, or the role of diet and feed.

One of my greatest accomplishments, more than mileage patches or horse show trophies, was taking Mimi, who had been through a bout of laminitis, had worn shoes with pads for a time, and had a history of bad feet, and turn her into a sound, desert-rock-crushing, barefoot pony...with my trimming.

As noted earlier, as of January 2012, I am an employee of Lander Industries, Inc., makers of the Renegade Hoof Boot.  I currently run the news page, so feel free to send your Renegade stories and photos to ashley@renegadehoofboots.com.

(Yes, I realize that this now makes anything I have to say about the boots potentially biased.  But I wouldn't work for a company whose product I didn't believe in and couldn't be honest about.)

Outside of Horses

One of my challenges has been time management and finding a way to be able to do everything I love.  I have a myriad of interests and passions (and obligations).  After horses, my second passion is for cooking.  I grew up with a mom that loves to cook and a father that loves to grill, and the kitchen was never off-limits to me.  Spending time in the kitchen is one of my ways to decompress and relax, and I'm constantly searching out new and interesting recipes.  No, this isn't a food blog...but some of my more ride-relevant creations might warrant an occasional post.

Music is another hobby.  Again, I come from a musical family, and I've found my outlet in the form of the guitar.  At the moment, I'm self-taught and slow-going, but because it's something I'm doing for myself, it doesn't matter how long it takes.  I also love listening to music, and regularly abuse my vehicle speakers and iPod earbuds.  There's not much I won't listen to (rap, hip-hop and the like need not apply), but I grew up on coutnry music and will always have a soft spot in my heart for it.  These days, I'm more partial to "outlaw country," a perfect blend of country and rock.  Look for my "Music To Ride By" posts periodically, when I find a fantastic artist or song that I just have to share.

I'm still finding new ways to improve (and new ways to screw up!), but that's all part of the life of learning one gets when dedicating their lives to their horses.  This blog is my way to chronicle that journey...and I hope you'll join me.