As the sun rises above the mountains, the horses of Salyer Ridge emerge from the hills, answering the call of their loving human companion, who stands by a plank fence shaking a pail of sweet feed. Katie Salyer, 27, knew from an early age the kind of life she wanted to create for herself.
"I never wanted kids, just dogs and horses," she says. Two years ago, Katie and her husband, Hershall Salyer, 30, bought a farm in Morehead where they keep their family's horses and board horses for other people. Hershall works as an electrician and Katie manages the farm and rides the horses. Although she spends most of her work day alone, Katie doesn’t feel lonely because the animals she cares for are her family.
"I've never been a spiritual person as in God like, but I think the horses bring out the sense of quiet in you,” Katie says. “If I've had a very bad day, I can get on a horse and just like melt away. Even if the horse was bad, at least I'm being calm and my anger is released."
Katie began riding horses at age 6 when her gymnastics coach told her mom she should try a new hobby and invited Katie and her sister to go riding. Because her grandpa owned horses, Katie has been riding ever since. Originally from Cincinnati, Katie has worked in barns since she was 15 and knew she wanted to run her own stable someday. Her parents wanted her to go to college, so she enrolled at Morehead State University as an equine science major and joined the equestrian team.
When she arrived in Morehead, there wasn’t a place to board her horse except at the university, which meant keeping it in a stall with no pasture for turnout. That’s why she decided to open her own business. While still in college, she met Hershall Salyer at a party. They stayed up all night talking about horses. They dated for six months. He taught her about Kentucky’s Rocky Mountain Horses and she taught him about Thoroughbreds.
“I met my perfect match, someone that enjoys the same exact things I do,” Hershall says.
After college, Katie had to go back home to Cincinnati and their relationship ended. Then, two years later on Thanksgiving, Hershall called her and they talked for hours.
"Who can you talk to after a two-year span and still talk for hours, so interested in their stories?" she says.
Katie and Hershall have been married for four years, and people often comment on how successful the young couple is.
"It's because we knew right when we started college what we wanted, and we never strayed from it,” Katie says.
Katie admits sometimes she wonders if she and her husband missed out on seeing the world by starting their business when they were so young. However, she doesn’t let those thoughts get in the way of her happiness. Hershall tells her, “We can’t miss what we don’t have.”