Assistant Trainer Spotlight: Ashley Bailey of Highpoint Performance Horses
Bailey said that her mother is the reason she became addicted to horses. “She took me to my first riding lesson, and I was hooked. I pretty much grew up in Sanger, Texas, and was homeschooled. The flexibility of a home school schedule allowed for more opportunities in the show arena.”
Ashley started showing when she was about 12, and it wasn’t long before she began 4H and showing in the all-around events. When Bailey got her first real hunter under saddle horse, she started the AQHA circuit and the hunter under saddle soon became her favorite class.
We sat down with Ashley to find out more about her background and love of horses.
GHS: What is it you like about horses and showing?
Bailey: Everything! I love foaling out babies to the old broke show horses with their funny quirks. Horses just have such big hearts. I love it when they become so in tune waiting on our every que. It’s just an amazing feeling being so connected to your horse when you walk into the show pen.
GHS: What are some of your favorite accomplishments in the show arena?
Bailey: One that stands out was when I got fifth place at the Quarter Horse Congress out of almost 200 horses in the Novice Youth Equitation on Cant Beat This Luke. It was one of the first times I was able to show at that level.
GHS: Who are you biggest mentors?
Bailey: Well, the list goes on and on, but here are some big ones. I owe so much to Will Knabenshue; he is such a great teacher and a wise horseman. I learned so much growing up riding with him.
Jay Southerland used to get up early before work and give me lessons at my house. I’m so thankful he did because I learned so much from him.
Some of my very first lessons were with Chad and Shane Christensen – they made horse showing so much fun. Over the past couple of years, I have learned so much riding with Beth Case, she is truly talented and has it down to an art. Beth and Jeff Mellott have spent a lot of time with me and continued to help me learn and grow.
GHS: What advice do you have for young trainers?
Bailey: Work hard and stay humble. Remember that you have to pay your dues. It’s not easy, and there will be some ups and downs, but every horseman I know has started from the bottom and put in the time to get where they are today. Remember that your success isn’t only measured by what you accomplish in the show pen. There is so much more than that.
GHS: How did you come about working for Beth? What do you like about working for her?
Bailey: I was trying to figure out the next step in the horse industry for me. If I should continue training my own horses as a non-pro or get a job as an assistant. I saw her Facebook post about needing an assistant, and I called her up. I have to admit, I was terrified when I went there and tried out for the job. I asked Beth to be honest with me. If she didn’t think I was going to have what it takes, I didn’t want the job.
I have so much respect for Beth, she can train a horse all the way from start to finish. She is extremely talented, and she truly loves her horses. Beth has taught me so much already, and I am looking forward to learning so much more.
GHS: What would you like to see improved with the industry?
Bailey: As an assistant trainer, it can be very difficult to move up to a tougher competition level and improve without having a strong mentor. It’s not so much of a change for the industry, but more a way to ensure that it continues to move forward and progress.
Being a good assistant takes endless hours of work and constant learning, but having a good mentor can make all the difference in maximizing your potential. I’ve been lucky enough to be an assistant to Beth Case at Highpoint Performance Horses for two years. It has given me the opportunity to not only learn from the best, but she has also been a strong supporter of me gradually making a name for myself.
Some assistants don’t get the chance to show very much. I’m grateful Beth has the confidence in me to tell a client or owner that I can be trusted to do the very best with their horse. I think the industry would really benefit and thrive from trainers taking the time to teach and support the up and coming crop of assistants who are tough and willing to work hard to achieve their goals.
GHS: What are your future goals?
Bailey: Well, I would love to learn more about western riding and trail. But really, I just want to continue broadening my knowledge of the industry.