Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Conway.
Hi Ashley, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My love for horses came at a very young age.
My parents put me on my first pony ride as a toddler, and the rest was history. I spent my summers at horse camp, and as much time as possible riding on the side. Unfortunately, I chose gymnastics overriding as a kid, so it always came second to that.
I worked for lessons in many different barns but never had the time to balance both gymnastics and horses. Fast forward to 2012, and I stumbled upon a horse-drawn carriage in my hometown during our monthly summer block party.
That was the day that finally got me started as a driver downtown. We use draft horses like Percherons, shires, and Belgians. They’re very similar in size to the Budweiser Clydesdales.
In 2020, I decided to start using Tiktok for work-related videos. This has given me a platform to talk about our daily lives, and show their care, and truths about our industry.
I’ve also met some incredible people along the way, one of which has taught me my newest endeavor, roman riding, which is standing with one horse under each foot and riding.
This July marks 10 years since I got into the draft horse community.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
There are some occupational hazards with this job, which you’d never think would happen to you until it does. In 2015, my carriage was rear-ended by an intoxicated 76-year-old man. This sent me flying from my driver’s box and into the road.
I was laying on my back in the middle of the road as I realized what had happened to me, looked over to my left to see who had hit me in broad daylight, and saw that the car was headed straight towards me. I had no time to even think about moving as the minivan ran me over. I learned the hard way that the road was not, in fact, smooth (pun intended).
Also, before anyone worries, the horse was fine. I, however, landed myself a week-long stay in the hospital, and 3 months of recovery. I had 3 crushed vertebrae, a broken scapula, road rash all over my body, burns, scrapes and cuts down to the bone, and a piece of the top of my ear missing.
I did return to driving as soon as I could, but I would be lying if I didn’t say when I hear cars coming up fast behind me, I panic.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I drive horse-drawn carriages in downtown STL. I drive a Cinderella carriage to be specific.
We use different breeds of draft horses like Percherons, Shires, Clydesdales, and Belgians. We use the bigger drafts because it’s pretty easy for our big guys to pull carriages around our city.
We give tours of the immediate downtown area near the arch. I also Roman Ride for fun. That’s a draft horse under each foot, as you stand on them and ride around.
Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
I’ve had some mentors along the way who helped grow my horsemanship over the years.
Many many drivers have worked with me over the years. I do have to give my biggest shout-out to a good friend of mine, Michaela Redeker.
She’s who has taught me to Roman Ride on her two gorgeous Clydesdales. She has also given me so much wisdom and knowledge when it comes to my horsemanship in the last two years.