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Meet Carolyn Duncan of Crooked Creek Farm Equestrian Training

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carolyn Duncan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Carolyn. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began riding when I was 9 years old. I always had a passion for the horses and would spend all my time at the barn. I often worked in exchange for lessons and ride time. When I was 9 my parents bought me a horse that I owned for 24 years before we had to say goodbye. She was young and not broke as that was all we could afford at the time. In the years of working with various trainers to train her, I learned a lot about horsemanship. I wouldn’t change any part of it as I feel that is what guides me today.

Just as I was able to begin to show more and my parents bought me a new horse that could take me to higher levels not only in riding but in competition I had an accident on another horse I had been training and broke my femur and ankle. This forced the sale of my new horse and changed my path forever. After about a year of rehab, I was able to get back into the saddle. It was this time that Mary Frankel took me under her wing and I started working with the Special Olympics. In working with that I decided that I wanted to teach and give kids the chance I had. I opened a small private farm in Woodstock, GA with the support of Deloris Brown. Our farm grew and after 8 years it was time to move on to a larger facility.

During that time I also began judging local shows. Over the years we moved to a few different locations as I continued my instruction. I became a USHJA Certified Trainer, started and IEA team and had several competitive students that successfully competed at a Regional and National level. In 2015 with the help of family we purchased our existing farm in Milton, GA. Most recently Carolyn has received the prestigious USEF Judge’s License (“r” in hunters and hunt seat equitation),recognizing her by the sport’s governing body to judge at all levels of competition across the nation.

In 2015 I also had a great season showing my Arabian mare that I had started, ending our season with several year-end awards in the jumpers with GHJA and GAHA and most importantly we were two times National Champion that year at the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals in the jumper divisions and judges pick the Horse Gym USA Top Equine Athlete award. The farm has grown in its success, we have a full barn with 17 stalls, 3 iea teams, a very competitive group participating in GHJA, USEF Rated and Arabian shows. We have two assistant instructors, Laura Smith and Ansley Carl that have both helped make it all possible. I am so excited to see what our future will be.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Over the years there have definitely been many challenges and obstacles, I would say my biggest obstacle was not getting my lease renewed at a farm after investing over $20,000 getting it suited to fit my needs going on the owner’s word that we would renew. Luckily I was able to take several items to my new location or sell to recoup a small portion of funds. At that point not only did I have to find a new place but I didn’t really have any start-up money. I pulled together what I had and signed a two-year lease on a small farm that also needed improvements.

The owner had been trying to sell it with no luck so he agreed to take it off the market and lease to me. The day before moving in he informed me even though the property was off the market he had received an offer and was selling and I had 60 days to vacate. I had not even moved in yet and had just spent an additional $5000 to improve it so the farm would be suitable. At this point, I was devastated and ready to give up, my heart and dreams shattered. I was lost and didn’t know what to do. I kept it all quiet as I worked closely with my friend and attorney to save my business. If it wasn’t for her I would have had no hope.

My husband and family were all so very supportive we began looking for another option either to build a farm or buy something suited. As you can assume buying a farm is no piece of cake. We put an offer on a farm for sale but was declined. We tried to find ways we could increase our offer. With no success, I was yet again heartbroken and scared. Then it happened! We found another farm in a slightly different area than most of my clients but it was all I had dreamed of. After weeks of working out the details with the help of my in-laws, we were able to purchase our farm in Milton. After months of heartbreak, prayer, determination and the hard work of my family my prayers were answered. Owning a farm is hard work and full of ups and downs but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Please tell us about Crooked Creek Farm Equestrian Training.
At Crooked Creek Farm Equestrian Training our goal is to educate and guide young riders to achieve their goals as an equestrian and a horseman. At our farm, we are like a family. It is important to me that everyone feels a part of the barn no matter his or her level. We try to ensure that everyone gets the personal attention he or she needs and has the support they need to grow. Currently, we primarily teach those geared towards competition with GHJA, AHA and USEF rated shows in the hunter, jumper and equitation disciplines.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood I guess would have to be the games my friends and I would play in the barn. We would spend all day at the farm racing through the fields and test our abilities with our horses, but then we would sit backwards on our horses in their stalls with our lunch spread across their rump and eat, talk and just have fun for hours.

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