Ardath “Ardie” Kingslee Hastey
Georgeville, Quebec, and Ocala, Florida
Owner and Founder of Blueberry Hill
How long have you been part of the horse world?
Since day one, I’ve always had a love for animals. When I was 3, my babysitter used to put me on their fat, old retired gelding, bareback. I would sit on him for hours singing, giggling and playing with his mane while he slowly walked around, grazing in the field. This really sparked my love and obsession for these wonderful creatures.
As I got older, my passion and interest lead me to other disciplines: dressage, then hunter-jumper. In 2004, I competed again at The Royal Winter Fair with my first jumper named Oberon. He brought me from the 1.0m to 1.30m. I wanted to pursue the jumpers, wanting to jump bigger and bigger. Over the years, I made it up to the Medium & High A/O Jumpers with Leonardo and then Cherry.
In February 2016, my mother passed away the same week my mare, Cherry, fractured her leg. It was a very sad time for me, and with my mare needing surgery and a year off, we decided to breed her. I had nothing to ride; I was sad, depressed and lonely. At the time, my trainers, Randy and Ryan Roy of Hunters Glen, felt bad for my situation and gave me this amazing opportunity to ride Baywatch, a 6-year-old bay gelding who had done the pre greens. Ernie, aka Baywatch, sparked my love for the hunter ring.
For the past 5 years, I’ve had some great fun and success with a few talented horses in the 3’ Adults to the 3’6” A/O’s. In October 2018, I went to Germany to try horses and I came across this handsome and kind 5-year-old chestnut gelding on my birthday, which is why I named him Party Favour, aka Kelso in the barn. We just clicked and it has been a wonderful journey with this horse, showing in both Canada and Florida.
What part do you play in the horse world?
I decided when I was 27 that I no longer wanted to pursue a carrier as a professional groom, rider or trainer. But I loved the traveling, going to all different venues and places while meeting all sorts of great people. So I wanted to find another way to still be in the horse industry, while being able to make a living.
Over 10 years ago, I started my own business called Blueberry Hill, a traveling custom tack shop and boutique store at horse shows across Eastern Canada. It was exactly what I needed and was looking for. This new career really blossomed and over the years I have expanded the business. Blueberry Hill has an online website, and we do private shopping appointments and Barn Parties. I’m an amateur with a farm in Ocala, Florida, where I keep my horses year round with my trainer and manager, Abby Strohmeyher.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
One of my favorite things to do is to find an outfit for both horse and rider that they really like and find their own style or way to be unique. It’s a tough and not a forgiving industry; with the pressure of image, it’s sometimes hard to maintain feeling good about yourself and in your own skin. Riding apparel isn’t always the most flattering or comfortable, so at Blueberry Hill, I want my customers to feel special and that we take time to find their needs and styles. I enjoy getting to know my customers, remembering unique things about them and their family. It melts my heart when I see the young kids and teenagers looking up to you and think that your Blueberry Hill style and message is cool. I have had a lot of parents say that I’m a good role model for the younger generations. I take pride in being an independent and strong individual, and a successful entrepreneur as a businesswoman. Earlier on in my career, I loved being on the road, and over the years I’ve been able to see different parts of the world thanks to this business.
What’s your biggest achievement?
Starting my own independent business at the young age of 27! From day one, Blueberry Hill has always turned a profit, and it has enabled me to follow my riding goals and live the life I wanted to live. I’ve now had 10 years of successful business. I consider the growth of Blueberry Hill Stables over the years, using its utilities and space to the best of my abilities, an achievement in itself as I try to continually make improvements.
What are your goals for the future?
Looking towards the future, I’m thrilled to be slowly building Blueberry Hill Stables with my trainer Abby Strohmeyer. Blueberry Hill has always been my home, but with the addition of Abby we’re beginning to bring in outside customers and boarders. Also, my retired jumper, Cherry, is currently in foal and I’m really looking forward to seeing her produce beautiful babies for Abby to bring along. A personal goal for the future is to qualify for U.S. Indoors in the Amateur-Owners. I’ve never had the chance to make it to any of those shows and I think it would be so much fun to give it a shot.
What is the best thing about your life?
I get to manage and organize my life and daily schedule. I was always very goal oriented and was able to accomplish my lifestyle and goals early on in my life. After working for a solid 10 years on the road hustling from show to show, now it’s nice to be able to sit back and see the strong relationships and loyal customer base I have developed over the years, not only in Canada and the U.S., but all over the world!
Best kept secret about what you do?
In my spare time, I love to go deep-sea fishing! If I’m not on a horse, I want to be on a boat. I have always been a water baby. This is why I got a sea horse with a hibiscus tattoo: the sea horse representing me, and the hibiscus is one of my favorite flowers and it represents Florida, a place that makes me so happy and feels like home!