By Haylie Kerstetter
Portraits by Melissa Fuller
Megan Ghere always had a hunch that she would have a career in horses, but she never knew how she would get there. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Megan has travelled nationally with both her own training business and some of the top trainers around the country. Although there were many detours along her road to the equine industry, she always found herself being drawn to horses as her true passion. Currently working for Don Stewart Stables, Megan has been able to turn her passion into her career through hard work and dedication.
With Megan’s mother riding her whole life, even through pregnancy, it was not surprising that Megan began riding as a young child. Although her mother insisted that she try other sports and activities, Megan’s love for horses was undeniable. “She made me try everything, even ballet, but at the end of the day, I kept coming back to riding,” Megan said.
When Megan was 5 years old, she got her first pony, Best Kept Secret, or Cheerio, who taught her many lessons and did everything from the Short Stirrup division to the Small Pony Hunters. “I did the pony medals on him, hunters, anything I wanted. He was my doer pony,” Megan said. As she progressed through her first years of riding, Megan began showing on the hunter-jumper circuit, eventually moving to horses and jumping at any opportunity she had to ride.
As a Junior, she spent many show days helping wherever she could with the goal of getting a catch ride. “I would thrive on catch rides,” Megan explained. “I would wake up in the morning just hoping someone would have a catch ride. It taught me so much.”
The learning experience of riding a new horse and working with different trainers propelled Megan forward in her riding abilities and allowed her to stand out amongst her peers. She progressed through the Junior Hunter division, sporadically showing in the jumpers, and at the completion of her Junior years, transitioned directly to professional status.
The Jumper Ring
Megan found success in the Grand Prix ring in the Midwest in the mid-2000s while running her own business. She still holds a soft spot for her now-retired horse Renior Du Buisson. “He taught me how to win,” she said. “He was as careful as they come and really changed my life. I knew when I got him that he would be with me for the rest of his life. He’s now retired and living the good life in Ocala.”
Girl Scout was another Grand Prix showjumper that made a mark on Megan’s life. “Girl Scout stole my heart,” she said. “She never let me down. No matter what, I could always depend on her.”
While showing and running her business, Megan attended college and took online and night classes. Now, she encourages her students to go to college if they feel they want to because it’s an excellent opportunity for them to learn more about themselves. Megan always stresses to her students the importance of trying something new and getting out of their comfort zone, just as she did. “I tell them they need to go find themselves and see what they want to do. That’s essentially what I did too,” Megan said.
While in school, Megan explored interests and worked at a car dealership, taking on multiple roles including receptionist, service cashier and finance manager. This job gave her skills that she would use later in the horse industry.
On her days off at the car dealership, Megan taught beginner lessons at a local riding school. There she realized that she was meant to ride and train, so she left the car dealership to run her own teaching and training business out of a local Tulsa boarding facility, where she had sales horses and multiple clients who showed in the hunters and jumpers. As her client base started growing, Megan spent more and more time on the road, traveling to horse shows at least two weeks out of every month.
After spending several years in Oklahoma and traveling to the same shows each year, Megan began looking to take on a new challenge. “I was ready for a change. I loved what I did every year, but I knew Oklahoma would always be there,” Megan said. That’s when Megan got a call from Don Stewart at Don Stewart Stables with a job offer and immediately jumped on the opportunity.
As soon as they met, Megan and Don hit it off, and Megan knew it was the perfect fit for her. Although she always had sales horses and clients in her business in Oklahoma, Don’s was on a much larger scale. “People might think I would be shell shocked walking into something like that,” Megan said. “But Don keeps everything very lighthearted, and I love the busy. It worked for my personality.”
The position Megan accepted with Don included a little bit of everything in the barn—managing, riding, teaching and ultimately being wherever she was needed. Since she started, her role has expanded to include more hours in the barn and extra responsibilities. The barn has also adapted from winters in Ocala to spending the entire circuit in Wellington, and from summers traveling around the country to staying in Traverse City, Michigan, for the season.
Megan helps to organize customers coming in from all over the country to try horses in Don’s expansive sales program every week. Don often buys horses that he wants to improve within their discipline or transition to a new one. “Don is great at seeing potential in horses that other people don’t. He brings them in and we ride them and put them in lessons. We hardly ever keep horses for more than a few months,” Megan explained. Through Don’s program Megan has had the opportunity to ride many horses who have gone on to have top careers, and she is grateful to have been a part of their journey.
“Don is one of the best in the industry. He has more experience than most, she said. “Whether it’s the teaching or the sales, or something else, he’s been there. Like he always says, it’s better to learn from someone who has already been there and had the experience, rather than trial and error on your own.”
Although the road to Don’s included many detours, Megan is grateful for the journey. “You take away skills from any job you have, anything from people skills to organization skills. This is a service industry, like many others, so these are important skills to have,” Megan said. “I’ve used skills from every other job that I’ve done and they have helped me become the person I am today.”
Photos by Melissa Fuller, msfullerphotography.com