By Alannah Castro
For businesswoman and lifelong equestrian Allyson Hall, horses have always played the starring role, whether it was behind the scenes of a corporate career or now front and center as the main focus of Huntley Equestrian, a purveyor of equestrian accessories.”
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Allyson was bitten by the horse bug at a young age. “Horses have been a part of my life as long as I can remember,” she said. “There was a barn next door to us growing up. My older sister rode, and I would always go to the barn with her before I started taking lessons.”
As she grew up, Allyson progressed through the ranks, her junior career spent mainly showing in the hunters. She continued to ride during college, even purchasing her own horse while she was attending Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
After graduating from Emory, Allyson went to work for Merck Pharmaceuticals. She worked hard balancing a busy corporate career, her two children and continuing to ride as an amateur. Allyson competed at the Devon Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Washington International Horse Show and The National Horse Show in New York City. Allyson was the winner of the Amateur Owner Hunter Stakes Class at the National Horse Show in New York City in 2003.
“When I turned 40, it was time to make a change in my career,” Allyson said.
While travelling with her husband, who built a business manufacturing outdoor living products, Allyson made valuable contacts in the manufacturing industry in Asia. “During our travels, I would get my riding clothes made in Hong Kong; and over time, I started thinking about whether there was a business opportunity there,” Allyson said. “I understood the
manufacturing part, and I just needed to see if there was a need in the market.”
From this idea, Huntley Equestrian was born in 2013. They launched a full collection, which included leather goods, children and adults’ apparel and accessories. Their main focus has always been providing the finest quality, reminiscent of the artisan masters, at affordable prices.
“My very first product was the hunter horse bridle. I got lucky: Our first item continues to be our best-selling. As a child, I grew up with the old established brands like Crosby of England, for example,” Allyson said. “Because of this, I knew what good leather and good stitching was because it held up over all the years.
“As I got older, I saw the craftsmanship of handmade bridles, and I recognized that the industry was declining. You didn’t see a lot of artisan leatherwork. Handmade bridles were ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. My goal was to find an opportunity where I could bring in a better price point and still provide that same type of craftsmanship and leather.”
Allyson and her family now reside in Amelia Island, Florida, and they also own a boarding facility, Towne Hall Farm, in nearby Callahan, Nassau County, Florida. What started as a small six-stall barn has grown into a full-service 11-stall facility, complete with round pen and grass jump field.
“By offering boarding, I was able to hear what customers look for and what they need for everyday use, whether that was bridles and halters or duffel and grooming bags,” Allyson said.
As with many moms, Allyson’s day starts out driving kids to school. From there, she heads out to the barn to check on the horses, and by early afternoon, she’s in the office before making the rounds to riding lessons for her daughter, Colvin, and golf or basketball for her son, Lowell.
“I’m brushing my teeth in my office and putting my makeup on in the car. You’re going all day long, but if you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work,” Allyson said. “You wake up in the morning excited about what you’re going to get done and what new items you’re working on, updating your catalogue, and work on pricing.”
Colvin is continuing the family legacy, having grown up from lead line through the pony ranks before graduating to showing her mom’s former Low Amateur horse in the junior hunter 3’3” division.
“I’m the groom, the horse transportation and the organizer,” Allyson said. “I ride on the weekends with her, and I like to help with the flatwork. I’m on the sidelines. I’m grooming and helping and trying to get the horses to the ring.”
During the summer, Allyson and her family live in Taipei, where the kids attend school and continue to learn Mandarin. Allyson also spends the time overseas travelling to India, China and Vietnam to continue developing Huntley Equestrian products.
“Traveling and seeing the manufacturing, you really come to see that the world is a big place,” Allyson said. “We’re lucky to be in this business and be able to bring our kids with us to show them what the world is like.”
Finding a quiet moment during the day is never easy, but Allyson counts her barn time as her time to center herself.
“The barn is my ‘me time.’ It’s my therapy and my gym,” Allyson said, laughing. “Whether it’s grooming, wrapping, trailering, poulticing, loading hay or taking down the braids.”
Allyson has also found inspiration from the canine members of her family: Weezie, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Wally, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
“The dogs come to the office with me every day,” Allyson said. “This summer, we launched Huntley Pet. We currently manufacture feeders, which are dog bowls that are on an elevated platform, and we’re in production with new dog beds.”
Ultimately, Allyson has found a way to combine her passion for horses, her savvy business sense and her drive to create a unique product and embed it into a thriving business that reaches equestrians everywhere, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Horses are a lifestyle that we work in and we live in,” Allyson said. “It’s always part of our equation.”
For more information, visit www.huntleyequestrian.com/
Photo by Alexis Malin Photography