Ashley Hibma is happily living her high school dream on horseback


Ashley Hibma

A snowy photo of freshman Ashely Hibma and her horse, Rylee.

Without a doubt in sight, freshman Ashley Hibma is finding her true love for horseback riding at her second home, Diamond Sahara Equestrian Services, despite the negative comments.

“There’s a lot more than just mud and poop,” Ashley said. “I feel like that’s what people see, but it’s a lot more than just all that bad stuff.”

The horses, at times, can make the barn messy, but the negative perspective doesn’t stop Ashley from living in her dream reality whilst in the barn. To her, Diamond Sahara Equestrian Services is a safe haven. The issues in her life seem to fly away, far into the sky, when she walks through the doors. 

The stress of school has littered Ashley’s mind as the first semester of her freshmen year comes to a wrap, but the help from her trainer, Stacy, helps her focus on the horses and herself.

“[Stacy is] basically our mom but a teacher at the same time,” Ashley said. “So, she kind of makes it super nice and welcoming and not scary. She’s the sweetest person on earth, and she’s got a little boy, who’s maybe [in] third grade. He hangs out [at the barn]; he’s so nice, and we love him.”

To further her training with horses, Ashley made a decision–a commitment to the FHC Equestrian Team. After joining this year, she doesn’t see herself quitting a sport she has finally found a sense of solace in. And yes, horseback riding is a sport. 

Sport after sport, season after season, it took Ashley some time to figure out that horseback riding was a sport made for her. Throughout this trial and error period, she had gotten to a point where she knew a lot about horses, even having some of her past birthday parties in horse barns. She held her birthday parties in barns for a while, and finally, she begged her parents to put her in lessons. 

Her parents listened, and now, Ashley can ride freely on her horse, Riley, as she continues to learn. 

Just getting that experience with him and going to the horse shows; I like getting a positive experience after that barn–it was not good for me. He was the one that made it fun for me.

— Ashley Hibma

“It’s really fun,” Ashley said. “I started three-and-a-half years ago. Six months ago, I switched to a different barn to be on the equestrian team, and I found [Rylee]. He’s kind of what made everything fun for me. Just getting that experience with him and going to the horse shows. He was the one that made it fun for me.” 

At horse shows, there are many learning opportunities that the variety of classes provide. From classes like horse showmanship to bareback, Ashley learns how to control Riley in a safe way while still enjoying a more lively barn. 

“There are judges watching you in each class, and there are people that watch you just because it’s a cool kind of a thing,” Ashley said. “Then, you have placings for each one. For the equestrian team, first place is eight points, and then, going down, it’s [fewer] points. It’s cool because all those points from your team go into one pot, and then the team with the most points wins.” 

With each class, Ashley learns a little more about what it means to horseback ride, and of course, the personality of Riley.

“It’s interesting because you can’t communicate with [horses], they don’t speak English,” Ashley said. “Learning how to trust an animal with your life–because they can literally kill you at any moment–is something that [Stacy] is helping me with.”