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Inspiring Conversations with Kate Healey of Valley View Equestrian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Healey.

Hi Kate, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Horses have always been a part of my life, as I grew up on a Welsh pony breeding farm that my mom ran. Later, I would turn the farm into a full-scale equestrian lesson, boarding, and training stable. During Jr. High and High School, I went through the United States Pony Clubs rating certification program, which taught me all about horses, not just riding. Through this program, I learned equine anatomy, veterinary care, tack and equipment, conditioning, nutrition, stable management, farriery, and more. I also started learning how to teach riders, and got a working student position where I could teach a few students a week at age 15. I started my own program a year later at my barn (and home), with two students and one pony. I grew my lesson program slowly, gaining clients and some recognition over the years. In 2020 I had over 35 students and a full barn of 21 horses. But my goals were never based on numbers, prestige, or accolades. When I was a teenager, riding was my solace. I didn’t have a lot of friends and didn’t fit in at school. I had some incredible friends at the barn that changed my life. But I was also a victim of bullying, gossip, hate, shaming, comparisons, and unhealthy levels of competition at the barn. At one point, I quit riding because I felt so horrible every time I even drove in the driveway of my current barn. But I knew what positive impact horses could have on people, especially teenagers. I set out to create an environment of acceptance, friendship, learning, peace, and harmony at my barn. I wanted a place people could come to experience all that horses had to offer, without the negative and hostile environment that most barns fostered. I knew that the barn atmosphere was the most important thing I could produce and protect, because this had to be a safe space for my riders or there was no point for me. For me, this isn’t about horses, as much as we love them (and we do-SO MUCH!). It’s about people.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
An equestrian business always has bumps in the road! I was fortunate enough to not experience any major setbacks in growing my business, but I did face a lot of adversity in the form of doubt, both self-doubt and from outside sources. Many, many people told me it would be too hard, wouldn’t be worth it, that I should get a “normal job”. And then of course there are the daily challenges I face being an equestrian business owner. The daily grind-managing and caring for 20 horses in all kinds of weather and under any and all circumstances is mentally, physically, and sometimes even emotionally challenging. And that is just one part of my job! Teaching, training, coaching, barn work and chores, running the management, accounting, scheduling, marketing the list goes on and on! It never stops and you have to have some real dedication to run this type of business.

We’ve been impressed with Valley View Equestrian, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Valley View Equestrian is an equestrian sports facility specializing in the instruction and coaching of eventing, dressage, and show jumping. We provide boarding, training, lessons, and show coaching as well as an Equestrian Team, fun summer camps, and group instruction. Valley View was started with the objective to provide a safe, fun place for people to learn all about horses and riding, and to learn, through horses, important life skills. Our primary focus is the relationship between the horse and rider and providing a way for people to connect with equines. Unsatisfied with the current norm of competition-driven equestrian educational facilities, we sought to provide a more therapeutic, stress-free environment for people to be able to share their passion for horses with each other and to grow not only in their equestrian education but in themselves as people. Knowing the power of these animals in facilitating the development of life skills, we strive to bring enlightenment to kids of all ages through these extraordinary animals. Students learn how to “listen” to their horses’ non-verbal communication and to communicate back, which teaches patience and empathy. Riders “win” at a show or competition if they complete the goals that they set for themselves and their horses before the show, cheer for everyone at the show (not just their own teammates or themselves), and show gratitude to the volunteers, parents, judges and spectators at the show, which teaches goal-setting, determination, sportsmanship, and respect. Valley View prides itself on our reputation in the equestrian community for providing well-rounded horsemen and horsewomen that are sportsmanlike, respectful, and empathetic.

What’s next?
We have an exciting new phase coming up with some fun big changes here at the barn! We have two new riding arenas in the works as well as a new stall barn and other facility changes that will expand our landscape.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Anne Healey Photography
Offotos (Olivia Foster)

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