EQS Alumni of the Month: Ashley Stannard ‘07

Owner of Ashbrook Farm

Ashley Stannard riding a horseI am originally from Minnesota and I did not know about William Woods while growing up. The only exposure I really had to college Equestrian programs were the ones winning in the intercollegiate competitions. I was all ready to go to one of those colleges that competes at the collegiate level. Then I sat down with a rider I knew growing up who was going to William Woods; she told me how they go to A-rated shows and I changed my mind and fell in love with William Woods. I am now in Tucson, Arizona and have been here since 2009. I started my own business, Ashbrook Farm, in 2010.

It would be difficult to pick a favorite memory from William Woods because I loved my experience there so much. It would be a combination of the Greek events, the riding, how close the barn was to campus, and all the close friends I made. Everything I did at William Woods was a favorite memory.

There’s a lot of personal lessons you learn from going away to college and being on your own for the first time in your life. A lot of the professional lessons I learned from getting my Equestrian degree at WWU really do have something to do with the way I run my business on a daily basis. Having one horse you were able to project and develop was great. Learning from all the different instructors and particularly the teaching technique classes really helped me. I use that all the time. It teaches you how to work with clients.

Ashley Stannard showing Hunter/Jumper

Starting my own business
I did a couple of internships while I was in school. My first job after graduation was in Wisconsin. It was a lot of breaking in horses and they also had a breeding program. I have a huge passion for horse showing – if I could show all the time I would. I knew I wanted to find an opportunity where I could show more regularly. So I went to work with a trainer in Tucson, and when that trainer retired I decided to start my own business. I already had clientele established down here from working with that trainer.

On average I have 25 to 30 horses in training. I have a full-time staff that helps take care of the barn and I have a full-time assistant that helps with the riding and teaching. I typically ride 5-10 horses a day. I also teach about ten people a day. We have a small lesson program my assistant helps with and we also travel to shows on a regular basis to places like HITS Thermal, Summer in the Rockies, and numerous other shows in Arizona and southern California.

Ashley Stannard posing with a horseTeaching from the beginning to horse shows
At William Woods, there were always classes with a variety of rider abilities, and our instructor could come up with lesson plans that applied to every horse and rider. I think I took a lot of that away for my own program. I have students from beginners all the way up to junior jumpers. I think the ability to be versatile in how you teach and keep riders safe but advancing is something I really learned at William Woods.

I really do take a lot of joy out of teaching. I am at a point in my career where I have a group of adults and kids who grew from beginners to capable riders under my watch and its great to see that develop. What I work for and work towards are the horse shows. But horse shows are a product of what you put in at home, so you get to see your hard work pay off and see what you need to work on in the future.

Ashley Stannard competing hunter/jumper

Get out and work
Students should get out and work for as many people as they can while still in school. I feel like no one does that as much as they should anymore. Students should be working under everyone they have the ability to. I had an internship I did not like, but I learned so many valuable lessons that summer and I would not change that experience. It takes a lifetime to really learn how to do this.

Also, stay in touch with your friends. My very best friends are from William Woods and are still my best friends. We all rode different seats and are all over the country but still keep in touch and see each other whenever we can. I feel very fortunate for the close relationships I was able to form there.