By Jess Clawson
Tiny kids are common at horse shows running around with their friends in cute bows and garter straps with adorable ponies. But there is one five year old that goes to horse shows not just to ride, but also to run her business.
Peyton Finch is growing up under the tutelage of trainer and small business owner, Denise. Her mom owns Hunter’s Edge, a successful USHJA recognized riding school in Las Vegas. Peyton’s entrepreneurial spirit comes naturally, as does her desire to be part of something bigger than herself.
Together, Peyton and Denise run Pony Suds, a bespoke tack soap company that has grown rapidly to sponsoring riders, contributing to Peyton’s college fund, and even rescuing horses with the proceeds.
“Last year I was trying to find something we could do together that wasn’t just throwing the iPad in her face,” Denise laughed. “I can be a little bit of a Pinterest mom sometimes, so I was cruising Pinterest looking for crafts and came upon making soap. I thought it would just be a fun little craft.”
They made the soap together, and Peyton gave some away to trainers at horse shows, one of whom told her she could probably sell them. They had no idea of what they had just unleashed.
“She has chickens, and goes around the horse shows selling eggs,” Denise explained. “She has a college fund so we just put the money in there. She wanted to try selling the soap too, but I didn’t think it would do anything. But then I put up an Instagram post and sold a couple hundred dollars’ worth in a few hours, so I was wrong. That’s how Pony Suds came to be.”
Peyton and Denise make the soaps together. “I don’t let her pour, because it’s hot,” Denise said. “But she picks out all of the colors and the molds. She likes the creative process. When we go to Thermal to show, she does the drops on the products to the shops there. She’s as involved as a five year old could be.”
Several big west coast tack stores stock Pony Suds, including EQU Lifestyle Boutique, Outdoor Outfitters, and Tack of the Town. Customers can also purchase the soap online, choosing from pre-made options and customized soaps in various shapes and sizes. They also have soap holders in fun prints.
Denise recalls growing up in a time where having a large bar of glycerin soap at the cross ties was standard, and she recognizes the convenience in that practice. The “Cross Tie Bar” from Pony Suds is a new take on an old classic. The large bar can be customized with farm initials and colors. Other options include unicorns, holiday-themed shapes, and cute round tins with the shopper’s initial molded right into the soap.
Pony Suds soap is simple and high quality. They use organic glycerin soap, Doterra essential oils, and skin- and food-safe dye. Denise, who is sponsored by Antares, uses Pony Suds exclusively on her high quality leather. She also owns a custom Freckers western saddle for colt starting (a saddle she refers to as her “second child”) and the soap has kept it in top shape. The simplicity and top quality ingredients make it perfect for everything from boots to the nicest calfskin tack.
Cleaning tack can be mundane, especially for those of us who have been doing it for decades, but Pony Suds makes it fun. Not only because the shapes and colors are cute, but because it smells great and does such a good job.
Pony Suds is proud to sponsor several riders: Jaime Taylor, Katie Taylor, Kristy Miller, Michelle Parker, Sami Milo, Gabby Pattinson, Danielle Seagrave, and Jamie Sailor. “We picked them not only because they’re successful competitors, but because of who they are as people and equestrians,” Denise explained. “They’re all kind to others and set a great example. We wanted to reward that.”
Denise and Peyton are also setting a good example themselves by using some of the proceeds to rescue horses. Peyton loves mini ponies, and has one of her own, a mare named Meatball. “She wants more minis, so we’re building more pastures at our ranch in Texas so she can do that,” Denise said. “We’ve run out of room in Vegas. She wants to save them all, which is very sweet.”
They’ve also rescued other horses, including one who will soon get a chance at being a school horse in her prestigious program. Older or unsound horses they’ve bought from auctions get the chance to live a life of retirement in Texas.
Pony Suds is an exceptional tack soap, but it’s more than that—it’s a mother/child bonding opportunity, a creative outlet, and an opportunity to give back. It’s what every small business should be.
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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