Farmer, full-time teacher and part-time freelance writer Hope Ellis-Ashburn caught up with us to talk about her latest book release: Always Hope: How Dairy Cows and Arabian Horses Inspired Grit in a Young Girl's Life. Hope’s work has appeared in EQUUS, Horse Illustrated, The American Quarter Horse Journal, Arabian Horse Life, Sidelines and US Equestrian magazines. She has also written blog pieces for TheHorse.com blog. Always Hope: How Dairy Cows and Arabian Horses Inspired Grit in a Young Girl's Life follows her debut book, The Story of Kimbrook Arabians.
(Emma) Tell us about yourself and your history/experience with the Arabian horse?
(Hope) I have been involved with horses in general for thirty-five years. I have been involved with Arabian horses for thirty-two of those thirty-five years. I won my first Arabian in an essay contest through the Middle Tennessee Arabian Horse Association when I was sixteen years old. I had to write an essay, "Why An Arabian Gelding Is The Horse To Own" and develop a one-year training schedule and a one-year financial budget. The horse I won was bred by William and Joanne Gutknecht of Kimbrook Arabians in Pulaski, Tenn. His name was Faax El Din (Fakher El Hamal x Kimbrook Kameo). Faax (Fox), as I called him, was primarily a blending of Egyptian and Crabbet breeding and was officially certified 59.79% Crabbet/Blunt breeding. I worked for Kimbrook during the summer of 1989 and also periodically, mostly on weekends, during the four years I was working toward my Bachelor of Science degree in horse science at Middle Tennessee State University. I rode and showed Faax in the hunter/jumper and dressage disciplines.
Presently, I own a Half-Arabian mare, Aallusive Angel (a.k.a. Sally) (Tsolid As Gold x Misty). I enjoy trail riding her, using her to work on our Angus cow/calf beef operation and training her as a hunter. We occasionally show when I can fit it into my busy schedule which is not nearly as often as I would like. My mare has a companion donkey, Harmony.
I have owned one other Arabian and worked with many during my time at Kimbrook, but these two are definitely my favorites.
(Emma) Tell us more about the book?
(Hope) Here is the blurb about my book: Some of us are born with a sense of agency over our lives. Some of us acquire this sense of agency at a later age while others never acquire it at all. I was born knowing that I was in charge of my own destiny. My stories are equal parts sad, humorous, and everything in between. For example, my father taught me how to drive a tractor at age three. At age thirteen, he taught me how to artificially inseminate cows. Once, we almost lost a farmhand in our manure pit. Always Hope is my coming of age story grounded in rural life, dairy cows, and one amazing Arabian horse.
It's first and foremost my memoir that covers a very specific time period in my life. But I also seek to educate others about what growing up on a farm is like and highlight not only agricultural history, but also my family's history in agriculture as well. Two entire chapters of the book are devoted to Faax and my experiences at Kimbrook Arabians.
(Emma) What inspired you to write this book and to include Arabian horses?
(Hope) I was raised, and still live, in rural southeast Tennessee. My mother's family traces back to the first Europeans in the state. However, my mother married a Yankee, which essentially made me an outsider growing up. I wanted to share my family's rich history and our history in agriculture. Arabians are a huge part of my life. They are a big part of the person I am today. I could not imagine writing this book and not including them in it. Faax made me, me.
(Emma) What was the release date of the book? How can readers make a purchase or connect with you?
(Hope) My book released on Amazon on March 26. It spent three days as Amazon's number one new release in equestrian sports! It can be purchased via this link.
For those that would like to connect, here are my social media outlets (all named in honor of my chestnut Half-Arabian mare):
Facebook: Red Horse on a Red Hill, Instagram: red_horse_on_a_red_hill