jillian masciantonio cowgirl magazine

Jillian Masciantonio 

Professional Title: Chief Executive Officer and Occupational Therapist, The Making Strides Foundation
Age: 30
Home: Export, Pennsylvania

“I grew up the oldest of three on an eighty-acre farm and equine facility in Southwest, PA. I learned at an early age that being involved in the Western industry isn’t always glamorous; sometimes it’s wearing Carhart coveralls while breaking ice buckets in the dead of winter, but I loved it anyway. I starting riding horses at four years old and the rest is history. I attended college to pursue healthcare. During that time, I volunteered back home in our local 4H horse program. I drove home biweekly to help run horse shows and hauled kids to various competitions. When I moved back home after graduate school, I worked at a local hospital. I loved helping people and connecting with my patients but I wanted to cultivate a lifestyle where horses were my full time career. In 2020 I founded Making Strides, an equine assisted therapy program. Since then, Making Strides has transformed into a certified 501c3 non-profit corporation. We offer three different therapy services and adaptive horseback riding lessons and are on track to complete over 850 therapy sessions this season. Sharing my passion for horses with others has been the greatest joy and blessing of my life, thus far. I hope my story encourages young women to tirelessly pursue their dreams, no matter how big or small.”

Vision for the future of women in the Western industry: The western industry is expansive and encompasses fashion, rodeo, horse show, the cattle industry, agriculture, and more—and there is a place for women amongst all of it. I look to see women taking on bigger/public roles in the corporate sector as CEOs, entrepreneurs, and TV/social media broadcasters and influencers. I’m also rooting for the ladies to continue to win big prize money at the futurities alongside the men. Male horse trainers have primarily dominated the western pleasure world within AQHA circuits until recently. I am excited to watch all of these hardworking horsewomen be rewarded for all of their talent. Above all, I look to a future of inclusivity where there is a place for all types of cowgirls in our industry. Touching on this matter, I personally love watching the Equestrians with Disabilities classes grow within AQHA and other organizations like it. I look forward to its expansion and hope that maybe a woman like myself could really get involved in the program. 

Wrangler‘s COWGIRL 30 Under 30, presented by Teton Ridge, is sponsored by Cavender’s the Official Retailer, Charlie 1 Horse Hats the Official Hat, and Durango Boots the Official Boot, for COWGIRL 30 Under 30, with Corral Boots, Dude Rancher’s Association, Montana Silversmiths, Old Gringo Bootsand The Cowboy Channel.

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