This week’s Sunday Spotlight shines on Amber Ashba, an adult amateur rider, attorney, and total girl boss from Cleveland, Ohio. Amber is a familiar face at WEC and you can find her running back and forth from her vendor space to the show arena to compete with her horses. We caught up with Amber during the Midwest Indoors I show to chat about her small business – Equestrian AF Apparel, her professional career and how she got her start in horses.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m 29 years old and am a full time attorney. I am an amateur rider and I own Equestrian AF Apparel. I was trying to make some extra money for my horse habits and this business idea kind of just fell into my lap. I made a shirt for myself and posted it on Instagram. Everyone wanted it… that is how I got started in the t-shirt business. I had three horses… just two now because I unfortunately lost one last week.
Their names are Rio and Leo. One is six and one is five. I show Rio in the hunters and I plan to do the same with Leo. I live in Cleveland and I ride with Cleveland Equestrian. I have been with them for a year and a half.
How did you get your start in horses?
I have been obsessed with horses since I knew what a horse was. When I was tiny, that is when I fell in love. Fun Fact – my great-grandfather was a horse trainer. Nobody told me until one day my grandmother brought it up and showed me this awesome photo of him jumping this cool Thoroughbred. It all made sense. It is truly in my blood.
Aside from that, my grandfather has several race horses and my aunt was in the hunter/jumper world. When I was younger, I twisted my mom’s arm to take riding lessons. That sealed the deal and since then I have had the horse bug. One of the first horses that I rode was a twenty-eight year old Quarter Horse named Bourbon, and we did barrel racing. I remember just saying that I wanted to go faster!
My parents tried just about everything to get me to do something other than horses… I played volleyball and did gymnastics. I only got into the hunter/jumper world when I was twenty-four. As soon as I became an adult and could afford it, I dove in head first.
Competing as an adult can be very humbling. I show against young tiny kids … they are amazing and so talented in the sport and sometimes I’m still not as good as them. I just try to remember that many of them have done this their whole lives and I am just catching up!
Tell us about your professional career – Why did you decide to be an attorney?
I don’t know why I wanted to do this. I was seven and I walked into my parent’s kitchen and told them that I wanted to be an attorney. I used that word specifically! I didn’t come from a family of attorneys, so they wondered how I knew what that word even was. I told them that I just wanted to argue. Since I was young that is what I’ve had my focus on. I remember calling my dad in law school, in the midst of what seemed like a breakdown during finals, and asking him “why did I want to do this?” So, I don’t have an answer as to why I decided to do this, but I really love it. It fits my personality so well.
As an undergrad, I double majored in business administration and accounting with a minor in strategic communications. The communications minor is helping me a ton with my small business. I went to law school at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. As a lawyer, I specialize in real-estate and business. I have done a few equine things and I would love to do more like helping trainers set up their LLCs, horse leasing, buying and selling horses, etc.
I was at a law firm and I just decided to go out on my own practice. This has allowed me to focus on my shirt business as well as going to horse shows and not having to worry about getting time off to go show. When Equestrian AF began to take off, it was like having two full-time jobs.. I was a lawyer by day, then I would go to the barn, and come home to make t-shirts until 3am. It has been exhausting, but I am very grateful for it all.
What is a piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?
To leave my law firm job was very scary. It took me months to actually make the leap. Even though I have always had the idea to start my own firm, I was always so scared that I would make the wrong decision. There were several people that told me that it is now or never and it would be so rewarding. Each month I pushed it off because it was so nice to have a reliable paycheck.
Now out on my own and working for myself, My advice is that there will never be a perfect time, so you just should believe in yourself and just make it happen!
Thank you Amber – We wish you the best luck and we can’t wait to see you back at WEC again soon! Be sure to checkout Amber’s boutique and follow her on instagram @equestrianaf_apparel