By Christine Rhodes
Horse-crazy sisters Madison and Reagan Ibach have risen to Instagram fame with over a quarter million followers between their accounts. Their immense online popularity and wide platform made them perfect candidates for representing the newly rebranded US Equestrian. As ambassadors, they’re able to expand the new vision of US Equestrian: to bring the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible.
Madison, 17, and Reagan, 16, from Charlotte, North Carolina, discovered their passion for horses at an early age, despite being the only equestrians in their family. “I’ve always had an innate and somewhat obsessive love for horses,” Madison said. “My parents so graciously honored and supported that love by putting me in a lesson program at the age of 4.” Younger sister Reagan watched and quickly joined in on Madison’s love for riding. “Playing with Breyer horses, doing stick horse races and jumping at any opportunity to be around horses was a huge part of our childhood as sisters who share a horse obsession,” recounts Reagan.
Because the Ibach sisters have been home-schooled, they’ve had ample time to spend around horses. Five years ago, Madison got a 2-year-old Welsh cross pony, Appalachian Sunrise, known as Apple. “She’s taught me everything I know, and has played a significant role in shaping me into the person and rider I am today,” Madison said. “The bond I have with her is indescribable. Every equestrian talks about ‘that one’ horse that changed their life. She is, without a doubt, that one for me.”
Reagan had similar experiences with her AQHA gelding, Cowboy. “Shortly after I got him, I broke my arm. At first I was devastated because I knew that meant no riding for 8 to 12 weeks, but then I realized it gave me an opportunity to spend time getting to know him from the ground up. That’s how I began liberty horsemanship with him,” Reagan said. Even after Cowboy was retired from riding due to injury, Reagan has furthered her horsemanship knowledge and deepened her connection with Cowboy.
Madison and Reagan’s Instagram accounts feature their interactions with their equine partners. “Social media has absolutely revolutionized our world,” said Madison. “Having a central place to gather with others who share a unique and undeniable passion is incredibly powerful. Not everyone in ‘real life’ can relate to being horse-obsessed, so having a place to connect with others who understand that is priceless. Regardless of the time, location, discipline or age, we all communicate and relate to each other in a unique way. I’ve met countless amazing people through the ‘insta-horse community’ from all over the world.”
Reagan describes her social media as “a truly authentic and loyal connection.” After having her already large account stolen in 2013, she gained valuable perspective about social media and the importance of collective bonds among equestrians.
When Madison and Reagan received a message via their business email from US Equestrian, they were so surprised that initially they believed it to be a scam. Once they realized the offer to be ambassadors for US Equestrian was legitimate, they were thrilled at the opportunity to represent a younger generation of horsemen.
There are several ways they’ll be able to contribute to US Equestrian’s new campaign to bring the joy of horses to as many people as possible. Madison is most looking forward to “focusing on unifying the horse world in order to continue to grow this incredible sport.” Reagan shares a similar attitude. “I have direct access to a large, young and powerful demographic of horse-passionate people that traditional means of communication are now missing out on. Partnering with US Equestrian as a social media ambassador is a very natural pairing since their joy campaign is exactly what my followers on Instagram and I have been sharing for years. My role as their ambassador is to help connect my followers with all of the incredible benefits that US Equestrian offers, including a new affordable fan membership created for non-competing members as well as access to a very impressive and extensive video library in the Learning Center that features top athletes teaching various key skills.”
Their large social media platform and dedication to their followers has opened other opportunities, as well. A few years ago, they started Ibach Equestrian, now Everyday Ibach, as a way to raise money for local equine rescues. “When our accounts first started to take off, we decided to take advantage of it by designing customized products and setting aside a portion of each sale for charity,” Madison said. “It was a huge success, all thanks to our followers. Further, the charities that we donated to were blown away by the contributions we were able to collect. I am still so very touched by the immense support that our followers showed during that time, and the support that they continue to show every single day,” Reagan added. Both sisters love fashion, and find that their clothing line is a perfect way for them to combine both of their passions while giving back to the horse community.
As they continue their ambassadorship, there’s more excitement on the horizon. Madison and Reagan are both ecstatic to continue to expand their loyal and intimate social media followings. Madison said, “It’s only because we believe so strongly in the joy campaign, and because it specifically relates to the very nature of our social media, that I feel comfortable and excited to share this with my followers on social media. The ambassadorship is also very exciting for our followers because it will allow us to give a behind-the-scenes look at US Equestrian competitions, highlight US Equestrian resources and hold meet-and-greets. We all benefit!”
In the future, both sisters hope to be heavily involved at Tryon International Equestrian Center, conveniently located near their home. Their horse experience thus far has inspired them both to consider careers in the horse industry, whether in the barn or corporately. “As I continue my education and following my passions, I know that a perfect career will unfold,” Reagan said.
Reagan and Madison are lucky they get to share these experiences as sisters. According to Madison, they’ve always been close, “not only in age but also in our relationship.”
Reagan added, “Some people describe being into horses as having ‘horses in your blood,’ so to share the love of all things horses with someone that I’m literally related to takes that love to a whole new level. As we grow, I can’t wait to continue sharing those experiences and helping each other along the way.”
To keep up with the Ibach sisters, check out their Instagram accounts @reaganibach,@simplyyequestrian and @everydayibach.
About the writer: Christine Rhodes is from Hickory, North Carolina, and a sophomore at USC Aiken. She is studying English and Communications and also competes in IHSA shows in the Open division.
Photos courtesy of the Ibachs