Ryan Roy: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is professional horse rider, trainer and coach Ryan Roy, who was named Knightwood Hunter Derby champion as well as Canadian Hunter Derby champion this past week at the Royal Winter Fair…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m a professional rider, coach and horse trainer, and I operate an equestrian facility just north of Toronto, in King City.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I was born into this business! My mom was a successful amateur rider, and my dad Randy is a well-known judge – he’s officiated major horse shows across North America. I was on my first pony before I could walk, and I’ve always known that this is what I wanted to do.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Competing, like at this week’s Royal Winter Fair, is always exciting and a bit nerve-wracking. The most challenging part is all the balls that I need to keep in the air: managing staff, making sure that my clients are happy, coordinating the group of professionals that support our horses (like veterinarians and blacksmiths), and ensuring that each horse and rider’s training program is working for them.   

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I’ve been to Europe more than a dozen times to purchase horses that we import for clients or for training and resale. But I don’t feel like I’ve actually been there because all I see is the inside of farms and the highways in between! There’s never any time for siteseeing because I can’t afford to be away from the business for too long.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that my horses and clients are continuing to thrive – we’ve got a great group of riders and owners right now, and in five years I hope that they’re doing even better.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Horses can be heartbreaking. At last year’s Royal Winter Fair, one of my favourite horses suffered from a breathing issue. Fortunately, he’s still with us and living happily in the field at the farm, but it meant that it was the end of his career as a show jumper. I focus on giving my horses the best care and conditioning that I possibly can, and do my best not to let the setbacks get me down.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success can be winning a major class for me, watching one of my clients overcome their nervousness in the show ring, or teaching the new foal we just had this summer to walk calmly beside me. Money doesn’t make me happy, but horses are an expensive sport – and that can be challenging in many different ways.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
There’s been a lot of special victories over the years that stand out in my mind because of the horses that I have been lucky enough to ride and the team that I have supporting me. Two years ago, I won two big classes at the Royal Winter Fair – what we call Derbies. It was so gratifying to win both of them on two different and special horses. In addition to show horses, I play polo too. A few years ago, I had a chance to play professionally with a very competitive team in South America. That was an amazing experience.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
There’s no such thing as working 9 to 5 when you’re running your own business. Success doesn’t come from regular working hours – it means getting up before the sun does and staying up all night when it’s needed. If one of my horses is sick, I can’t tell him to call me back in the morning. If one of my staff members calls in sick, then I’m filling in.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I love Mexican food, and the original Playa Cabana on Dupont is a favourite spot of mine.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I love to play polo, but outside of horses I love to shop, eat great food, and have some down time on the couch with my cats.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I’m lucky enough to spend a part of my winters in West Palm Beach, Florida. There’s a large horse show there, and every year I take a few of my own and a few clients’ horses down South for a few months. I can’t remember the last time that I travelled and it wasn’t work-related!

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Anything Beyonce – she’s bent on world domination, and that’s a great quality for a woman to have.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
It’s hard to imagine what life would be like outside of horses. Would it count if I said instead of a professional hunter/ jumper rider, that I’d like to be a professional polo player?

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I’m involved with two great fundraisers: Polo for Heart and Polo for Palliative care.

What to you is notable?
Working hard to make things happen.

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