Ashley Rossiter on talking horses with Jamiroquai, covering up “eau de cheval”, and her styling background paying dividends in the show ring
I’ve always had a passion for writing, so after school I went to the London College of Fashion and studied fashion journalism. When I left, I wanted to become a fashion editor, but I soon realised that I wasn’t going to walk straight in as the editor of Vogue, so I ended up side-stepping and working in fashion PR.
We had a lot of stylists who would come in and dress the celebrities and popstars which looked great fun, so I thought I’d try my hand at styling.
After a few years as a stylist, I got in with a record company which had just signed Kylie Minogue. I started working with better-known artists with bigger budgets, and was product placement manager for brands including Nike, Timberland and Oakley Eyewear.
I also wrote for mainstream women’s magazines as well as regularly presenting on TV for various fashion slots. My claim to fame was appearing in an Ant and Dec pop video.
I’ve always loved horses, and I starting riding as a child. I did a bit of everything when I was younger, although jumping has never been my favourite, partly due to a horse I had who used to stop at the jump and drop his shoulder, so I’d fall off.
I’ve swayed more towards dressage at amateur level, as well as county showing and side-saddle. My forte has always been condition and turnout classes and for that I have my styling background to thank.
When I was styling, I had a horse who I kept in Richmond Park. I would get up early to ride and muck out before heading straight to location with a clean change of clothes in the boot and trying desperately not to smell of horse. Horses weren’t something I chatted to people at work about, although I do remember talking to Jamiroquai about horsepower once when discussing his cars.
My career as a stylist meant I didn’t spend much time with my horse, so when the opportunity came up to work within equestrian PR, it seemed like the perfect progression. I freelanced for a few years and then set up my own agency, MirrorMePR, in 2011.
Equestrian PR has allowed me to join my creative skills with my passion for horses. I can tap into my knowledge of horses as a writer and add the creativity from my previous roles as stylist to give brands a rounded package. It’s like any specialist subject – you really have to know your topic and be able to be authentic.
Since 2011, the agency has diversified, and we now have lots of different sectors outside the equestrian world including fashion and country lifestyle.
My role consists of a lot of admin, writing reports, managing clients’ social media, organising my team, dealing with clients as well as selling feature ideas.
The most enjoyable part of the job is covering training features with riders because you learn so much. I always joke that I could ride a grand prix test or go clear around Badminton through the words that I write. I also like organising photoshoots and helping to style up – anything that taps into my creative side.
People imagine my job is like Ab Fab and that I’m drinking champagne by 4pm, but the reality is I’m usually working until 9pm drinking strong coffee. When you see a piece of editorial in a magazine, it’s weeks if not months of selling into journalists to get that piece to appear. Looking after social media is a full-time role in itself and you also have to be available at all times for your clients, so it is 24/7.
I’m well-known for my four-legged office assistant Jeff, a Jack Russell/Chihuahua. When I first met Paralympian Natasha Baker at her yard, Jeff had a scrap with her dog Poppy, and I ended up having to go in and wrench him out. It wasn’t the best first impression; although we laugh about it now, Jeff stays in the car when we visit.
Ref Horse & Hound; 10 September 2020