Greenfield Center, New York
CFO of Southbound Saratoga Management Group, Executive Director of Saratoga Horse Shows and the Saratoga WIB (Women In Business) Spectacular
How did you become part of the horse world?
I started riding at age 7 on vacation in Jamaica, winning a beach race on the back of a donkey. I rode competitively as a Junior and throughout college but then took a break while living abroad. For about the past 15 years or so, I’ve been riding and training with Bobby Braswell and Terrapin Hill Farm. I own one horse, which I ride and hopefully will show this winter in Florida. My riding goals are to have fun and get back in the Amateur/Owner division.
When did you start your company and what gave you the idea?
We started Southbound Saratoga Management Group (SSMG) in the fall of 2019 and from the onset I’ve teased my partners and joked with the women in our show office that I wanted to run an all-female horse show idea. I think women possess an innate ability to multitask differently than men and pay attention to detail. Having families, balancing home and a professional life all together teaches us to do so many things all at the same time. I really wanted to try it and see how it would work out. I am a believer in taking chances in life and business.
Listening to the USEF Amateur Rule Change Webinar is what encouraged me to pursue making the WIB (Women In Business) show a reality. During the webinar, USEF officials spoke about trying to provide opportunities for amateur riders to do extended barn duties, engage in social media, teach beginner lessons, etc., all for remuneration, so they would be able to stay in the sport. This sparked my thought process to try to take this a step further and showcase all jobs/careers in the equine industry and beyond that would not only provide the real money needed to compete in our sport but keep people engaged in the sport. What better place to do that than at a horse show where you already have an audience? I then decided to expand the concept and combine this initiative with my all-female show, which brought me to the Saratoga WIB Spectacular, the first-ever show created by women, operated by women, benefitting women’s health and showcasing women in business.
What part does your company play in the horse world?
SSMG operates eight weeks of National and Premier shows at White Hollow Farm, located eight miles from Saratoga Springs, New York. We also run a schooling show series with eight shows. The Saratoga WIB Spectacular played, and hopefully will continue to play, a substantial role in the equestrian world by not only providing opportunities for all exhibitors to get hands-on equine career experience and learn about a myriad of opportunities but it also afforded women the chance to collaborate, share their stories and gain access to hundreds of other women who also were willing to pay it forward by sharing their stories. We have four questions posted on our website and ask all women to participate by completing the questionnaire. If you do answer the four questions, you gain access to the stories and contact information of all the women who have participated as well. We hope to continue to grow this to give women access to a wealth of knowledge, have an opportunity to collaborate with some amazing women and grow their network.
What is the best part about being a woman entrepreneur?
I don’t necessarily differentiate myself from the men; however, for me the best part about being a woman entrepreneur is being a role model for other women who may be interested in my career path and being able to provide opportunities for women. In fact, because of the amazing job women did at the Saratoga WIB Spectacular, we hired several of the women who worked that show to work all the rest of our shows this summer. The jobs they’re doing include tractor/drag drivers, water truck driver, crew members and an assistant grounds manager. I also try to encourage and support women in trying new things.
What challenges do you face?
Risk and risk management. The most challenging and vital aspect of my job is to keep everyone and their horses safe. That is a top priority and an enormous responsibility.
What great things have happened because of your business?
I have met some talented people and made some great friends. I’m extremely lucky to have been afforded the opportunity to surround myself with an extraordinary group of women (and men), and it was an incredible experience creating and running a show with them. I’m also lucky to have a wonderful team at all of our events of both men and women.
My personal goals are to strive to be the best person I can be every day: to listen and be kind, philanthropic and compassionate. The goals for my business are to continue building upon the foundation we have started to create: to provide exhibitors with the best experience possible while keeping our boutique-show feel and atmosphere.
What advice would you give to other women considering entrepreneurship?
Don’t fear failure or making a mistake. Have trust and faith in yourself. If you’re not willing to take a chance and walk down a path to pursue your dreams or vision, you will never know how that would’ve played out and in turn you may look back with regret and think, I should’ve done that.
What’s the best thing about your life?
My husband, who is extremely supportive of everything I do in this crazy horse world; my animals and family.
Best-kept secret about what you do?
Kill ’em with kindness, listen and try to give exhibitors and customers what they want.
Photos by Dashing Paws Photography, unless noted otherwise