Assistant Trainer at Baskin Farm (Wildwood, Missouri)
Experiences at William Woods
William Woods was still an all women’s university when I was there. I loved the personal interactions that you have with your professors, which is still present today. All of the professors and students were fantastic. I have many close friendships, in many different parts of the country, from my time at William Woods. I continue to use the networking I developed there in daily life.
One of the biggest things I learned at William Woods was to stand up for what you believe in. They really reinforced to follow through with whatever you want to do and to make it happen. Be it in the horse world or life, you have a lot of people at William Woods who will back you up. Especially in the equestrian industry, its important to feel like a part of the community, but to also stand up for what you want to see in the industry.
Journey with Horses
I did not originally think William Woods would be financially possible so I started looking into other career paths and was looking at other options. I was accepted and going to nursing school until winter break of my senior year of high school. My admissions representative at William Woods, Leslie Krieger Verslues, knew how much I wanted to work with horses and worked with me to make it happen.
After graduation from William Woods, I moved to Chicago to work for Diane Carney and Dana Link at Telluride. Diane had done a couple clinics at William Woods, and offered me a job for the summer of my sophomore and junior year. After those two summers, I was offered a full time position after graduation. Telluride was the perfect place to start in the horse industry. My position began as a groom and quickly moved into management, and as a perk, was able to ride as well. I believe it was vital to learn everything about the horses and not just riding or showing. It was a smaller barn with 25 horses on average. We showed all across the country. It was a fantastic experience and a true eye opener as to how the industry works. Towards the end of my time there, I began teaching some lessons as well. Two years later, I was ready to move back to St. Louis. I can never thank Diane and Dana enough for the experiences I had and the contacts I was able to make during my time in Chicago.
Upon returning to St. Louis, I began working for Susan Baginski at Baskin Farm where I have been ever since.
Baskin Farm is a much larger operation with about 70 horses. When I came, I moved more into a training and teaching program while also managing our staff of grooms and working students. We have a large lesson program as well as a boarding and training program. At the beginning of the year, we split our team between the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida and St. Louis. The St. Louis group shows at local A shows and travels in and out of Florida. Our year continues by traveling to shows in Kentucky, Traverse City, World Equestrian Center, Chicago, and ending with the fall indoors shows. When not on the road, I spend a majority of my time with our clients and their horses at home. I know its not often you can say you have worked for one farm for 22 years, but I still enjoy what I do and where I am. It has been a privilege to watch all of our kids grow up and watch their skills improve over the years. I also love teaching the adults. To be able to give them some enjoyment away from their daily lives and share my passion with them.
Favorite Part of the Job
My favorite part of my career today is watching our clients learn and grow. The care of the horses will always be the most important to me. Working to create horsemen is what we try to do. We spend time with our clients one on one, or in mini-clinics, teaching topics such as bandaging, feed and nutrition, clipping and mane pulling and the dos and don’ts of blanketing. We involve them in any vet care and rehabbing from an injury. We have a strong system in place for learning. From being a working student in the lesson program to moving into caring for their own horse, they start right at the beginning of their time with us. We are truly a barn where the horses come first!
Advice for Current Students
I think that students really need to do an internship or a summer job early-on while they are still in school. The equine industry is really a lifestyle and can demand 24/7 work 365 days a year. If you are responsible for a horse’s well-being, you are always “on-call.” I also recommend working in a different part of the country from where you are from first. The horse industry is huge, and you may find you’d rather work in another area. Finally, open your mind to what others have to say. There is something you will learn from each and everyone in the industry.