“You can’t fake it and it takes a lot of patience.”
That’s how Ashley Rodenmeyer characterizes classical dressage, an equine art form she has been practicing since she was a child. The dedication and patience it demands are consistent with her general approach to life.
The story of that life has taken her from childhood pony rides and dressage lessons to a career in the dental industry and, finally, a recent arrival in the agency world.
Her story begins with her mom, Sherry, to whom she is incredibly close. When Ashley was very young, her mother began studying classical dressage, and it was not long before Ashley began joining her. They studied with a small group of other riders once a month, a habit they kept up for years afterward.
“My life, personality, emotions, personal growth, everything has been shaped by my experience with my horses.”
When asked to describe dressage, Ashley responds, “It’s like ballet on a horse.” Can you imagine having such a close relationship with an animal that powerful that you could perform something akin to ballet?
It turns out not all of her experiences on horses were that graceful. Her first horse was:
a Shetland pony who entered her life when she was just a child.
She calls Spotty “the sassy Shetland pony.” She would usually have to spend a while trying to catch her, but once she did, she could have all kinds of fun with her.
“I’d go out and get on her bareback and urge her to go as fast as she could. She wasn’t a big fan of this, but usually played along. She would only go one way, and she’d only give me one go around the paddock before she stopped to do her own thing.”
Apparently Spotty had a bit of a stubborn streak. No matter the circumstances, a trail ride or just riding around the yard, Spotty was the one who decided when she wanted to go home.
“She’d just decide she was done, turn around, head back to the barn however she saw fit, and when we arrived at the front of the barn, she would make a sharp right turn and I would make a left. Every time.”
Over time, Ashley ended up kicked, stepped on, tossed, scraped off of Spotty’s back, even left hanging from a tree once. None of it diminished her love.
“I loved her dearly. We never knew her age, but it was guessed to be in her late 20s when she died peacefully in her stall.”
After Spotty, the next horse to win her heart was:
“My mom and I were at a run-down Morgan horse breeding farm to see another horse for sale,” she starts. “As we made our way, a cute little bay horse started following me around. I focused my attention on him while my mom discussed the other horse.”
A bond was clearly formed in that moment, and the owner offered to sell him to Ashley and her mother. Eighteen years later, Stoney is still in her life in a big way.
“He is one of a kind, once in a lifetime, a horse I have an amazing bond with.”
More recently, a new horse entered her life:
A buckskin Lusitano (a Portugese breed), she had lived untouched on a breeding farm, which ended up seized by the state with all possessions sold at auction for a fraction of what she was worth. Circumstances ended up bringing her into Ashley’s life, which was probably a blessing.
“She’s a bit quirky due to her crazy life circumstance,” she explains. “But she and I just get each other and she trusts me in a way I don’t think she’s ever trusted anyone. There has been a connection from day one, but the journey to gain her trust has been life changing.”
The patience and dedication that go into her relationship with her horses has lately been channeled into a new endeavor:
She was first introduced to it in 2015, through a combination of fortuitous circumstances. Once the chance came around, she embraced it.
“I jumped in like my life depended on it,” she recalls. “It was incredibly difficult and I loved it!”
For someone so young, Ashley exudes a maturity and resolve that stand out. Her dedication to yoga, horses and her family are prime examples of that.