Laura Stutesman was two years old when she got her first horse, Lena (who was eight) and 30 years later they are still together. “Lena inspired me to love,” she says. For a uniquely confident and driven young person who did not fit in nor feel support from others, owning a horse gave her a healthy attachment.
Laura says, “Horses have a full range of emotions. Girls are drawn to horses because they give them a sense of power, and they can create a loving bond with another living creature. That is what happened to me.”
At age eleven, Laura talked about being a horse trainer. Not everyone took her seriously or believed she was ready for it at such a young age. She proved them all wrong and doing so has been a motivation throughout her career.
By 15, when most teenagers are just learning how to drive, Laura, began giving riding lessons. Ironically, it was her driver’s education instructor who got her instruction in the first place. He happened to have four daughters, and he asked Laura one day (while she was driving a car) to teach them. She accepted and she has been galloping along ever since, literally.
As Ms. Stutesman tells her story, it seems scripted as “meant to be.” After graduating high school at the tender age of 17, she went on a trip with her family to Joseph, Oregon. While visiting, and riding, she was approached to train a horse. She gleefully accepted and ended up training four horses during this venture which sparked her mobile training business. Laura’s “word-of-mouth” success got her gigs all around Shady Cove, Applegate Valley, and Ashland.
As if right on schedule, her next opportunity presented itself in the form of an eight-stall barn with an arena that was conveniently located across the street from where she had grown up. She began renting it and, at that point, horses came to her which made it even easier to grow her community of students. Soon, she traded in the eight-stall barn for a fifteen-stall one when happenstance arose a few years later. Laura continued to do what she loved and then fell in “love” with a man that she married and became a mother to two wonderful boys several years ago.
One would say, she “had it all,” but she still had a dream to own her own property so she could do more. Two years ago that dream came to reality and she began “Rising Hope Stables.”
The name represents many ideas and philosophies for her. She has a strong religious faith and believes it carried her on this journey along with Lena. “Rising” is also a common English riding term, so it made for a fun play on words. Finally, Laura also believes, “Everyone needs hope.”
At Rising Hope Stables, there is not a type of riding that she has not heard of or will not teach to the right student. She explains that most stables specialize in one; not her. Laura teaches all disciplines including Western and Dressage and has created a very different all-inclusive barn.
“You don’t have to have money or look or act a certain way to participate.” She is creating a community catering to clients who have horses because they love them but have no intention of showing them and also those who love horse shows. “Horses are more sentient beings than we give them credit for. I use horses in order to help people.” Now, she offers horse boarding, riding lessons, functions, and preparation for horse shows.
Her future plans include a full Equine therapy program working with youth. She currently has students from age six to seventy-six and has added a couple of annual events to her agenda like an Easter Egg Hunt and a “Fall Farm Festival” with old-fashioned games. When asked whether being a woman in her industry has been a challenge, she agrees it has. Men would question her ability to train and run a business, so she had to work harder to prove herself. But in actuality, she says, “Her age played a greater hindrance than her gender in her industry.”
Laura has not let any hindrance stop her and she also credits her supportive husband for pushing her at times when fear or doubt arose. Now, she coaches the Ashland and Phoenix High School Equestrian teams and has so many ideas about how she wants to grow her business. We have an inkling that she will keep galloping along unimpeded.
To find out more about what Rising Hope Stables is doing, check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/laurastutesmantrainingstables.
2007 E Hills Dr
Ashland, Oregon 97520