Hi there! My name is Becky, owner, creator, and do-it-yourself behind the Open Arena Template Shop. It’s so nice to meet you, and it’s so nice that you are here. Really! I know everyone says that but The Open Arena Template Shop is something I am super passionate about. So the fact that you found it, made it to the blog, and are reading this means that I have succeeded in at least some of what I set out to do. Let me tell you a little bit about myself and how I, and we, really got here.
My journey with horses has been… unique to say the least. I grew up on the east coast in New York (state NOT the city). Now, I primarily ride Jumpers, but also truly love dressage, hunters, horsemanship, and riding western horses in the mountains. I have successfully competed at Jumpers, Hunters, and Dressage – I have jumped 1.0m on the grass up in Calgary, won an equitation class judged by George Morris himself, competed in Nationals for the IDA in college winning 5th overall, taken a clinic with Buck Brannaman, and ridden back on a few 10 day pack trips into The Bob Marshall Wilderness.
So my passion is definitely with horses. I have worked in the horse industry on and off for about 20 years of my life, in lots of different capacities with many ups and downs. If it were a different place than it is today, I might still be working a horse job. However I have found work in another one of my passions – web design.
I started my web design journey in college. For College I attended The University of Findlay in Ohio. I majored in Equine Science and Equine Business Management, and minored in Business Management. In college I competed on both the IDA and the IHSA teams. I also spent two years in the Hunter/Jumper program and then two years in the Dressage program at Findlay. (Okay so Horse Girl never really was gone.)
When the end of my junior year rolled around, I was mostly done all my classes to graduate, minus my barn classes. Meaning my senior year would only have my barn classes in my schedule which wouldn’t be enough credits to maintain my scholarships and full-time status. This meant either doubling up my junior year and graduating early – something I was entirely not ready to do! – or starting another major or minor my senior year. I had dabbled in yearbook and newspaper classes in high school and really enjoyed them so I thought, why not let’s take some Graphic Design classes.
Turned out I LOVED the Graphic Design classes. I have always liked computers, working on them, and creating projects with them. The design classes led me to discover the Adobe Suite and all the fun things it can do. They also led me to some Web Design classes and designing websites which was a whole new world of things to discover for me.
During my senior year was when we all were deciding what we would do after graduation and where we would go. I was offered a couple jobs teaching riding lessons at two different barns, neither of which sounded particularly interesting to me. College had honestly burnt me out a little bit on horses. With the drama, the serious-ness of perfection, and the pressure of getting the “perfect” job after graduation, I was kind of done with horses at the moment. I didn’t have any of my own and after leaving college I was kind of looking foreword to a break from them, not diving head first into a another job of early mornings, exhaustion, angry bosses, and having no social life.
I did however, have a friend that between junior and senior years of school, went and worked on a ranch out in Colorado as a wrangler. Her stories were AMAZING. The west, the mountains, adventures, COWBOYS, western horses, camping with horses. I thought, well maybe that’s what I should do for awhile. It’s still horses, and lots of people take a break after college. So I applied to a bunch of dude ranches and got my call – from a ranch out in Montana.
How I ended up in Montana is a story in itself that I will share another day. I ended up working at a ranch in Seeley Lake, Montana, The Rich Ranch. I worked for the whole summer and fall came…. And I stayed and kept worked for the fall. I had decided about one week into that job, I was never leaving Montana. I ended up working at that ranch for three magical, life-changing years.
While at the ranch I still dabbled in web design and computer things. I played around with designing the ranch website, and teaching myself to code. Teaching myself to code continued on and off for years honestly. After finishing up at the ranch I ended up in Bozeman, MT with their daughter, she attended MSU and needed a roommate.
In Bozeman, I met English horse people again. By this time I was ready to ride English again, and missed jumping and fun flat work. I rode for a couple barns in the beginning, and then ended up riding and working for the main Hunter/Jumper trainer in the valley. I became head groom/manager of her program and ended up working for her for about seven years. That job was a typical horse job. I did everything from riding, vetting, hauling, grooming, barn chores, billing, organizing lessons, traveling to and from shows, showing horses, whatever job was needed I did it. That job is where I received most of my industry education. I went to a ton of different shows and learned what the ‘A’ circuit was all about.
Eventually I ended up burnt out again and decided I was going to quit. I gave my boss six months notice, and made the decision to leave. I got a job for a local small business owner who created handmade photography albums from scratch. This job went back to my artistic and creative roots and it was fun for awhile. Having a break from horses again was nice. Not having the pressure that came with my previous job, and having my nights and weekends back was un-mistakenly the best part. Oh and the paycheck. Though this job didn’t pay nearly what it takes to survive in the Gallatin Valley, it was a heck of a lot better than what I got paid at my horse job!
I ended up going back to the trainer for a slightly different job, full-time groom for one client who had six horses. This job paid slightly better than the one I had left but it still was a barely livable wage in a very expensive town. AKA Bozeman, Montana. So when this particular client decided to leave the training barn, take her horses home, and build her own facility, I left with her. My first boss wasn’t pleased, but the new opportunity provided a better job situation and a better salary.
I stuck with that grooming job for three years, and that job was so cool. The lady I worked for rides Grand Prix jumpers as an amateur. So I got to ride her cool horses, and go with her around the country to show. Again taking me to new and exciting shows, and watching her jump and compete higher than any riders I had known. That job as well though took it’s toll. With all the traveling, long days, and schedule that sometimes had me working holidays, weekends, or for weeks on end, I realized this wasn’t going to bring me to the life I wanted either.
As much as I have always been an independent, dream chasing, adventuring seeking horse girl, I have also always been a homebody and family oriented person as well. Holidays were always a time of celebration with family, and spending time with family has always been a high priority of mine. I have always wanted a husband and family of my own. Not to say that the horse industry doesn’t allow this entirely, but in the way I have always worked in it, it hasn’t. I have spent countless Thanksgiving’s mucking stalls and although I am not opposed to doing this for myself in the future, I do not ever desire to do it again for someone else on a holiday morning instead of spending time with my family.
So I ended up leaving that job as well, and that brought me to where I am today, the Open Arena Template Shop and Wild Horse Creative. I needed a place where I could combine my passion of horses with tech, as well as make a decent income to support my family and my horse habit. I’m not going to lie, and if your reading this you know, horses are EXPENSIVE. LIFE is expensive. So this is my outlet to make a better life for myself. However if I can help a fellow horse person along the way, make their business better and more profitable so they too can have a better and more profitable life, then I will do whatever it takes to make that happen!
Horse people in general, aren’t techy, and their websites reflect that. I think a lot of horse business’s have a website as a placeholder, but it doesn’t really attract business for them. Websites don’t have to be hard or time consuming, and I hope my website templates can prove that. I hope they can fill a void where a busy barn owner or horse trainer says, “Hey, I need a website, let’s buy this template and be done.” The days of spending months designing your website are over, and I really, truly hope I can prove that to everyone.
Until next time,
I would love to connect!