Ann White (left) and daughter Alice White.
Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Ann White, Vermillion Valley Equine Center
March 17, 2021
By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University
All-American. That designation is for the highest level of collegiate sports performance. Today we’ll learn about a rural Kansas woman who founded a business that is helping create All-Americans in the sport of equestrian riding.
Ann White is the founder and owner of Vermillion Valley Equine Center near Belvue. Ann grew up in Manhattan and loved horses as a girl. “My parents were not into horses, but they allowed me to have riding lessons,” Ann said. Horses became her passion. She started traveling and training horses and riders, particularly in the English style of riding.
Ann went to Kansas State University and met Mike White. They married, and she moved onto his family farm, named Vermillion Valley Farms. “I had been traveling around to train horses, but when I started having children, I did the training here (at the farm),” she said. “I didn’t really think people would come clear out here but they did, and now I think our rural setting is one of the biggest draws.”
In order to have a space to train, Ann mowed a patch out of the wheatfield. “The next year, I mowed a little bigger patch,” she said. “We just kept adding on.”
That was the beginning of Vermillion Valley Equine Center. Today, Vermillion Valley Equine Center is a full-service horse boarding facility specializing in the English riding disciplines of hunters, jumpers, equitation and eventing. Horse training and riding lessons are offered for all ages and skill levels. “We cover the whole gamut, from rank amateurs to those competing at the national level,” Ann said.
The facility has capacity for 60 horses, including 23 “school horses” used for the riding academy. The facility includes large arenas with sand footing on a limestone base, a round pen and a 10-acre, cross-country schooling field. The newest arena is 150 feet x 300 feet in size and features a water jump, hill and bank complex. Ann has a mobile trailer for sales of tack. She opened a brick-and-mortar tack shop in Wamego six years ago. Altogether, the facility includes all the elements one would need for equestrian training.
Such training has produced excellent results, beginning close to home. “Horses put my daughters through college,” Ann said. All three daughters – Alice, Jessica and Amy – worked and rode on the farm. Two earned college scholarships for joining the equestrian team at Oklahoma State University. The third went for a master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh and lives in Europe. The other two daughters have come back to the farm as professional trainers.
“As a farm wife, it is very special that our daughters would come home and work with us,” Ann said. Now there are six professional trainers working at Vermillion Valley Equine Center. Ann and her daughters and clients have literally traveled coast to coast, and even overseas, for equine events.
Among her clients are those seeking to compete nationally. “I’m proud of the professionals who got their start here,” Ann said. She has trained riders who achieved All-American status on equestrian teams at Texas A&M and Baylor Universities, and became team captains at K-State, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, Oklahoma State and others. “It was a terrible shame that K-State discontinued its equestrian team,” Ann said. Her facility is now home to the K-State Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Hunt Seat Team and the Flint Hills Pony Club for younger kids.
“It’s great to see the national awards, but it’s also as important to see the kids who will never enter a horse show grow and learn in their self-confidence,” Ann said. “The awards and ribbons are fine, but it’s wonderful to see the people who return here with their kids and grandkids.”
How great to find this facility on a family farm outside of the rural community of Belvue, population 205 people. Now, that’s rural.
For more information, go to www.vermillionvalleyequine.com.
All-American. That national designation has been achieved by equestrian riders trained here at Vermillion Valley Equine Center. We commend Ann White and family for making a difference by sharing their equestrian skills with others. It’s a lifestyle that is All-American.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.