There I was, back in Seattle in December of 2010, recently certified in Equine Guided Education, with no horses of my own and no idea how I was going to practice this work. I had a new friend, Sue, who was in my certification class at Skyhorse, and she happened to live only 45 minutes from me in Snohomish, Washington. We had met up a couple of times, and done some EGE practice together with her 2 horses, and so she invited me over for New Year’s Eve to make Vision Boards and drink wine. To be honest, the only reason I went was because of the wine. I really did not believe in Vision Boards. I had no idea what to even envision for my life, much less put it on a poster board. But, I figured it couldn’t hurt to cut and paste things out of magazines and chat with Sue and another friend of hers and enjoy a bit of Cabernet.


Perhaps it was something about cutting pictures out of magazines that took me back to my childhood, but there I was, just like when I was a young girl, only choosing the horse magazines and plastering photos of horses all over my board. I didn’t bother to put anything else on there – no farm or barn or romantic beach walk pictures – just horses. I didn’t really think about it at the time, in fact, I left the board at Sue’s place claiming that “I would finish it later,” since there were still a few blank spots on it where I could squeeze in a few more horses.


Well, my Vision Board disappeared behind some bookcase somewhere, never to be seen again – or so I thought.



2011 began without much incident. I was still riding another friend’s horses, and taking care of her farm whenever she went out of town, but that was the extent of horses in my life. I was working full time as a Human Relations Director at a growing production company, and though I daydreamed about leaving and pursuing a career in EGE, or taking people on trail rides, or simply introducing people to horses and allowing them the opportunity to experience a relationship with them, it seemed like worlds away from my reality, and I had no idea how I was going to change that.


Then, in the summer of that year, Sue asked me if I wanted to ride a new little mare she’d bought named Daisy, because she didn’t have time to work with her much. A 4-year old quarter horse with only basic training… I wondered if I’d really be up to the task. Well, she was young and pushy on the ground, but amazingly level-headed under saddle. I must admit, I really fell in love with her a few days later, when a bee landed on her and she threw an absolute fit – the only fit I’d seen from her and I never saw one again… only because I have the very same fear of bees, and if it weren’t for Daisy needing help calming down, I would have run away immediately myself. And so, 3 days a week, I would drive 45 minutes out to ride Daisy, often before going to the office in the morning.


I tried not to love her, but I did. How silly could I be, loving someone else’s horse… that could only lead to a painful good-bye at some point. But I couldn’t help myself. And then, one chilly Saturday morning, Sue met up with me in the aisle of the barn and said, “Ashley, I know you might move to California one day, and I want you to know that I see what a special bond you have with Daisy, and I would never take that away. If you go, Daisy can go with you.” Of course I burst into tears. I was absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude for that gift. I had no idea if I would ever really get to move to California, but I had been wanting to for years. My marriage was falling apart, I was struggling to salvage it, and I knew my husband hated the thought of moving to California. Still, if I ever did go, I would have Daisy.


In November, I returned to Skyhorse Ranch to take the certification course again as an advanced student for continued study. I still wasn’t sure how this work was going to be part of my life, but I had done a couple of workshops that year with Hallie, another student certified in my 2010 class, and I knew I enjoyed it. Hallie, not surprisingly, lived in San Jose, California though – so it was quite a commute for me.

Just before the course, Ariana called Sue to ask if she would be interested in a paint mare who had been left at the ranch. Ariana knew Sue was interested in building a youth program, and this horse had been ridden by young girls.


Sue asked me to assess the horse for her when I went down for the class. I prepared myself, determined to stay professional and objective, and above all, not to like the horse. Now, I do admit that I love horses in general. However, I have also come to know that I connect in a special way with only a few horses. The moment I led Taj out of her stall and her ears perked up, I started to feel that connection. As I was leading her into the arena, one of the other students said, “Oh is that your horse?” and a little 10-year-old girl voice inside me wanted so badly to answer, “YES! Yes it is!” But I maintained my professional distance, and I did not say that. I knew in 5 minutes that this horse wanted attention and direction. I took the lead rope off her and she continued to walk circles and figure eights with me around the arena.


Taj was underweight, had a windsucking habit that had worn down her top front teeth, and a tendency to pin her ears when approached. But there was something in her eye that was kind and curious still. Though I really wished Taj could come to Washington so I could spend time with her, I called Sue and told her, “This horse will need a lot of attention. I don’t think you have the time, you have so much going on.” To this she replied, “Oh! I just gave notice that I am taking a 2 month leave of absence from my job, so if you think she has potential in EGE, then I can take her!”


And so it was that Taj shipped up to Washington a few weeks after I returned from Skyhorse myself. I met the trailer with Sue and walked her up the narrow driveway to her new home myself. I spent hours picking ticks off of her – and showing Sue how to pick ticks, since western Washington does not have any ticks – and grooming her and helping her settle in.


Three days later, while hanging Christmas lights, Sue fell off her roof and broke her back.


Sue has made almost a full recovery, but at the time, she was confined to a lounge chair for weeks, and had months of restricted movement and physical therapy. During this time, she re-evaluated her life, and decided that she needed to re-home Daisy and Taj. And so it was that I suddenly had not one, but two horses of my own.



It was August, 2012, only a few weeks before I left my home and my dogs and my husband in Seattle to head to California, when Sue came out to the barn where I was boarding Taj and Daisy and she reached into the back of her truck and pulled out a large, white poster board. She said, “I brought something for you.” And she turned it over, and there was my Vision Board of horses.

I now live and work at Skyhorse Ranch, and have added a third horse to my family. I still don’t know where my home is, nor exactly how my career with horses will look, but right now it all looks pretty damn good. I guess I need to give the Vision Board some credit, but a lot of credit also goes to my friends and my horses. Magic is real.



  1. they are beautiful Ashley and your story goes to show that we should keep our dreams real and in our hearts. I know that you’re headed in the right direction. Thank you for sharing your story. Cheers, Amanda

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