1. Name/Age/Where are you from/Where do you live now?
Erin Gilmore, 36 years old, from Oakland, California, now I live in Wellington, FL and Leesburg, VA.
2. How did you get involved with horses?
My mother loved horses and found an old Palomino quarter horse to ride when I was about eight years old. She would drive me out to the pasture where the mare lived, taught me how to put the halter on and would watch while I walked the mare around bareback. I’ve always loved horses and began volunteering at a Western trail riding barn at age 11, while also taking weekly English lessons at another barn. My parents bought my first horse for $1200 when I was 15 – a semi-wild OTTB that was older and way less calmer than advertised.
3. What was your journey with horses to adulthood?
With the exception of working in a bakery in high school, almost every job I’ve ever had has been in the horse industry. My parents made it clear to me that I would be responsible for my horse and would need to earn my own money. So I was a camp counselor, I turned out horses in a boarding barn on my way to school in the mornings, I was a professional rider, a vet assistant, instructor, barn manager, a polo groom, a show jumping groom, a dressage working student, equestrian reporter, copy editor, magazine editor, marketing director, and finally a web editor and photographer.
4. How have they stayed in your lives?
I have never not made horses a focus of my life. I’ve always owned a horse, since the age of 15. My OTTB mare lived until she was 27.
5. How did you start your business/get into your current job?
Every job I’ve had has led into the next one. For me, the horse industry has never provided a job where I have had the status of employee with the benefits that come along with it. I was advised to create my own LLC about eight years ago for the convenience of running a business where I am paid as an independent contractor. From that I’ve developed the identity of my business to fit my needs, including in its current iteration of photography.
6. What does your business entail?
On its face, I am a photography business, but I remain very active as a writer, editor, web and social media manager.
7. What part do horses play in your career?
The horse industry is the entire focus of my business.
8. Do you have horses now? Or other pets? Tell us about them!
My horse Sirocco is a 19-year-old KWPN gelding that I got in 2015. When I was a professional, I rode him in 2006-2007. He came back to me after going through several owners and being labeled a problem horse. I’m very proud of the partnership I’ve developed with him and the things we’ve achieved. Far from being a problem horse, he is a very talented athlete and we’ve done everything from competing in cowboy dressage, jumping up to 1.10m, participating in a hunter pace and doing the Great Charity Challenge at WEF. I hope to keep riding him for many more years.
I also have a 15-year-old JRT named Stella. She has lived with me in San Diego, Sacramento, the Bay Area, South Florida, and now in Leesburg.
9. What do you think is the best part about being in the equestrian industry?
There is a great familiarity with the people who work in the industry. I started writing professionally in 2002, which now seems like a long time ago. I entered the sport with little to no knowledge of the top level. But I learned along the way. There was a point when I reached a level of recognition to be able to call anyone in the sport to interview and discuss the sport with. That is the best part – we are small enough to be in touch with each other at all levels, yet we are big enough to be a very global sport.
10. Is there another industry that you tap into as a resource to help with your business?
I try to take inspiration from other creatives, and other outlets. I always studied the profiles in Vanity Fair when trying to improve my writing. I’ve looked at other sports outlets in thinking about how to cover show jumping. Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report. I follow the work of many photographers to learn anything I can about style and technique.
11. How do you see something like Equestrian Businesswomen being able to help those within the industry?
When I started in the industry, the internet was young and there was no social media. If you had asked the “me” back then this question, I would have said that I would benefit from a clear pipeline to a solid career in the horse industry. I never knew where I was going during the 10-12 years that I was developing my career. I just worked in anything and everything that I could. In many ways that is part of the process, but I don’t see younger people working four jobs like I did when I was their age, while I figured it out. I see them absorbing all the information they have available to them, and proceeding on a much quicker path forward.
So, Equestrian Businesswomen could endeavor to be a resource of solid opportunities, to streamline the roles of the industry and make sense of the directions that young people could go in.
12. What was the name of your first horse?
13. What is your favorite horse show/equestrian event?
Very hard to say. On a personal level, any show that I can participate in as a rider. On a professional level, Aachen.
14. Who is a businesswoman/entrepreneur that you look up to, and why?
Shannon Brinkman for her never-ending positivity and boundless talent.
15. Who is your greatest influence for getting into the business you’re in?
Kim Miller, who was my first editor at my first equestrian media job, in 2002 at California Riding Magazine. Kim was a teacher and a mentor who always pushed me to my best, provided opportunities to me and continues to be someone I admire.
16. What book/speaker/person motivates you and why?
I don’t really listen to motivational speakers/books.
17. Where do you see yourself/your business in 5 years? In 10?
I hope to be concentrating on photography full-time and be more developed and educated in my technical skills and style to expand my capabilities as a photographer.
18. What is your favorite meal?
Anything my father makes.
19. What do you watch if you Netflix and chill?
Something that can run in the background while I edit photos.
20. What is your favorite book? Favorite movie?
My favorite book is The Art of Racing in the Rain. I don’t have a favorite movie!
Learn more about Erin here!