Brown lives dream on horse ranch


Not everyone can say they wake up every morning looking forward to work, but Brougan Brown can. While it was not an easy decision, Brown had to choose between two possible careers that would determine the fate of her future.

After graduating in 2014 from HHS, Brown had everything figured out. Since she graduated high school with her Associate’s Degree in Science, Brown attended Mary Baldwin University to get her Bachelor of Biology and Health Sciences. From there, Brown was set to go to physical therapy school, until a promising opportunity to buy a horse farm emerged, which refueled her lifelong love for equestrian, evolving into a successful, million dollar business.

“I really loved [physical therapy] and did all of my internships and put everything into it. I actually got in to the Doctor and Physical Therapy program at Murphy Deming. I was set 100% to go into school [there] and I put my deposit down. When it came time to enroll, this farm was for sale and I realized that this is what I always wanted to do, so I deferred my acceptance to Doctorate school and bought this place instead,” Brown said. “I thought about [purchasing the farm] for months. The farm was actually on the market for nine years before I bought it. I started thinking about buying the property August of last year (2016) and we didn’t close until Dec. 20, so it was a very long sixth months where I definitely could have not bought the property. I think me and my fiance definitely, had to think about what we wanted for our life because when you’re with somebody else, it’s not just about yourself anymore, it’s about another person. [I was] trying to figure out what we both wanted, what I wanted in myself and what really mattered to me. I just can’t imagine my life without the horses in it.”

Brown began riding horses at the age of five. There always seemed to be a fascination in horses from the very beginning of her life, so much that her first word was “horse”. Once she fulfilled her desire to take lessons, Brown eventually became serious about riding while participating in competitions and horse shows all over the country. After graduating high school, she became a professional horse trainer, training for different farms, travelling and showing horses, all while getting paid to do what she loved.

“I had done [horse training] my whole life. It was something that I was gifted, talented in and I love it too. My job is my passion. They say, ‘If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ and that’s true. Although it was me working and going to school full-time and everything that was involved in it, I also got to let out all of my stress in riding. I was making money, but I was also enjoying what I was doing,” Brown said. “I can honestly say that riding horses has shaped me into the person I am today; it teaches you responsibility, selflessness, dedication and courage. The riding world is different from any other world. People say that horse people are crazy and they kind of are. I’m twenty one years old, I own a million dollar farm and I run a successful business, so I think I had to grow up really fast in the world and people can say it’s a loss of childhood, but I think it gave me so much more in return. I’m a productive member of society, I have always been very driven because I love it so much. You definitely do have to love this to do it at the level I did, and I do. For some it’s just a hobby and that’s fine, but I think it’s been such a big part of my life that I don’t know who I would be without it. It’s almost like my self identity is in it. My best friends have four legs, which is really weird to say, but I can see horses that I sold over the years, the horse that I was number one in the country with and I can without a doubt think that they would recognize me. I have always self identified with animals more than I have with people. I enjoy being around them and I have a connection that I can’t get with people. It’s just really special. For me growing up as a little girl, I just enjoyed being around them so much and I just want to share that with other people.”

Brown describes her schedule as chaotic. While teaching between fifty and sixty lessons a week, Brown has helpers on her farm, in order to keep things running smoothly. Not only does she maintain and train horses, but she also has to run her entire business.

“[My schedule is] really busy. We start feeding the horses around 6:30 or 7 a.m. It takes three to four hours to feed [because] we have fifty horses on the property. I’m lucky enough to have feeders, so I usually just supervise. We end at about nine or ten o’clock, so that’s when we start riding and working with the younger horses,” Brown said. “I oversee everything. My responsibility is everything and reinforcing everybody. I delegate duties and responsibilities for everybody, but ultimately I’m the one everybody answers to, I’m the one who falls for any mistakes. This entire place sits on my shoulders. I ride professionally and train. I also teach lessons. I have an assistant trainer, who is absolutely wonderful and fills in the gaps for me when I’m unavailable. I’m taking the clients to horse shows, overseeing horses care, their nutritional values and needs, scheduling visits for all of the horses to get their shoes done, with fifty horses on property that’s a lot. I oversee all of the vet calls, selling, buying horses, client communication, everything that a farm entails.”

While success has prevailed in her farm’s business, along the way there have been some obstacles for Brown. As a twenty-one year old female running a business and farm, Brown has found herself in situations where her gender, age and tattoos have been held against her. Even though she faced discrimination in the workplace, Brown has not let it affect her business, as she found it helpful to know how to work with difficult people and has also applied that to the type of environment her farm will entail.

“I usually don’t tell people my age unless they ask, but I don’t lie. I just let it slip in the conversation if somebody asks me about it. I’ve definitely been discriminated … I think it’s made me more aware of social issues… all of that is still prevalent in this area. One time, I shook hands with somebody that I was going to get a sponsorship for and I have a tattoo in memory of my dad. I shook his and he looked at me and said, ‘My daughter is out of the house now, but if I had a young girl, I wouldn’t send her to your place to ride because you have tattoos.’ When I was trying to get the business loan, they held my age against me. As a woman and as somebody who is a very strong and independent person, that was extremely shocking. It was kind of disheartening,” Brown said. “I definitely deal with multiple types of people and multiple different personalities that have to work together all the time. Not only that, but this is a very elite sport, in the sense that it takes a lot of money, time, commitment and it’s very competitive. When you mix all of those four things together, things can get heated between people. I [wanted to] have a very supportive farm environment. I have almost sixty clients, so it’s super important to me that… even though we may be competing against each other, we are competing as a team. I don’t really tolerate drama in my barn, harsh words, anything like that. It’s really important that my barn is a supportive environment for everybody who competes.”