Stay true to yourself.
That’s what Alice Barlow ‘13 kept telling herself when she was a student at the University of Findlay and continues to tell herself today. She does so to remember what’s truly important, even if others might count her out. At 4’ 11” her stature is not the ideal when it comes to riding horses. To Barlow, however, who is the owner of Team Barlow Performance Horses LLC, that just means digging in and working harder.
“The difficulty I face still today is not being taken seriously as a rider because of [my height]. All that means is that you have to ride better and smarter than others,” she said. “Once I learned that practice beats natural ability when natural ability doesn’t practice, well, I was set for life after that.”
The business, she said, is successful, in part, due to the education and experience she was given at UF. Back in 2012, while still a student at UF, she and her family pooled their money together and built an outdoor sand arena in her hometown, and by the following year were working on a separate drive/parking lot to the arena and covered round pen. In 2013, she started her horse training business with her mother as the manager. “When I came home [from UF] we hit the ground running with an open house,” she explained. “I took out ads in the newspaper. I got a website going with the help of Mary Bowman ’04, and she designed my logo, sign and business cards. That first open house attracted all kinds of training and lesson options for me.” Barlow trains unbroken horses, trouble horses and show horses of any discipline. She also gives lessons and hosts shows, clinics and camps for both children and adults.
No stranger to hard work, Barlow grew up in Middletown, Virginia, attending a private military college prep high school there. She started riding horses “before she could walk,” and has always had a solid family backbone to keep her confidence and work ethic intact. “My family,” she said, “has always been my biggest supporter and many times they are the only reason everything kept running. Their belief in my ability and program has been rock steady since they were driving me to lessons and then all the way to Findlay.”
“All of the classes for all four years really helped prep me to run my own company and still help me to this day,” she explained. “UF really has the needed classes that you will see when out in the real world. Because of each and every thing that the classes taught me, I was not worried at all when starting my business. [UF gives] all of the tools and all of the ability to succeed.”
Barlow, the recipient of the prestigious Dale Wilkinson Scholarship in 2011, has two bachelor of science degrees from UF—one in equine business management and another in equine studies-western emphasis—also received an online master of arts in education from UF in 2014 while starting her business. Though the desire and drive to do well was clearly with her even from childhood, it seems that UF helped to sharpen her inclination to prosper both in life and in business.
Barlow told a story of sitting under the pictures on the wall in the western barn classroom and reading the accomplishments of those in the pictures for inspiration. “I went to Findlay for one reason: to become the best I could be,” she said. “I want to be one of the trainers on that wall someday.”
It seems that she’s well on her way to being the best she can be, particularly in the realm of training what are considered to be the more unique breeds in the horse world. She mentioned one breed—the Gypsy Vanner—as a particularly talented, yet odd breed of horse that she would watch being trained during her time as a student at UF. Because of this experience, she explained, she knew how to train them for her business. “One of the first clients I had was a breeder of Gypsy Vanners. I knew how talented Gypsies could be after seeing Jake Bowman train them at UF for Reining.” Soon after, she said, she got her own Gypsy and started showing successfully in their breed shows. “Then with a tiny string of two talented show Gypsies I started making a name for myself in that association. Now, in just four short years of showing with that association, my two horses are ranked sixth and eighth in the world. Training them with the confidence and knowledge that UF provided made for some pretty fancy and broke Gypsies. My horses and I have nine national titles and eight world titles. My amateur and youth riders have many high national and world standings as well.”
It appears that staying true to herself is working well in Barlow’s favor. And, with the help of her family, her drive and her alma mater, it’s clear that the only way to go is up. “By going to the University of Findlay, I have earned the right to go into any realm in the equestrian world and be respected. Like any discipline, I may need to work my way up the ladder but I will always be a contender based off of the past training I have had.”
Find out more about Team Barlow Performance Horses here.