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Sophia Fischer and Michael Buchanan grew up half-a-world away from each other, yet their passion was the same – horses. American Saddlebreds, to be specific.
That passion led to their meeting at a horse show in 2014. Sophia was re-entering the world of horseback riding after nearly a decade, during which time she attended the U.S. Naval Academy and then served six years as a Naval Officer.
“They say once Saddlebreds are in your blood, you can’t get away from them. So I kind of just worked my way back into that world. And that’s where I met Michael.”
The couple was married in 2019. That same year, they opened their own American Saddlebred operation, Buchanan Stables, where they train, board and breed the majestic beauties that hail from Kentucky. Outside the U.S., American Saddlebreds are most popular in South Africa – where Michael was born and raised.
Horses roamed in the fields surrounding Sophia’s childhood home on the outskirts of Jefferson County, Kentucky. By age 4, she was taking lessons, and by age 8, she won her first World’s Championship.
“I grew up riding Saddlebreds,” she says. “As a kid, my mom got me involved, just trying to introduce me to all kinds of different things. And horseback riding stuck.”
Some of Michael’s earliest memories are of riding horses with friends in his hometown of Brackenfell, South Africa. “We would ride every day after school for hours and hours. It’s crazy to think back on – we didn’t have saddles or bridles, none of the equipment I now use every day. But somehow, we always made it home safely.”
Upon graduating high school, Michael got a job at a renowned Saddlebred farm. Within a week, he says, “I knew it would be my life’s passion.” He built a career that eventually brought him to Kentucky, where he’s worked for some of the industry’s most prominent horse farms.
After climbing the ladder “from stall cleaner, to groom, to jockey, to the colt guy, to assistant trainer,” Michael was ready to start his own operation. “I felt my training skills were ready, I had the right tools in my toolbox, and with Sophia’s expertise on the business side, we were ready to make the leap.”
“The Farm Credit folks were very supportive. They actually helped me build and tweak the business plan, which led us to ultimately getting approved for a loan.”
The couple found the perfect property in Shelbyville: a lush green 27-acre farm that included a historic barn and modest farmhouse where they could live onsite. When it came time to finance their vision, they found what they needed at Farm Credit Mid-America.
Initially, Sophia reached out to the financial institution where she did her personal banking, but to no avail. “We didn’t fit their mold, and they refused to take the time to understand that this was a viable business opportunity. It was super frustrating.”
A friend referred them to Farm Credit, where she says it was obvious from the outset that they truly wanted to help. “The Farm Credit folks were able to adapt and ask the right questions. They were very supportive. They actually helped me build and tweak the business plan, which led us to ultimately getting approved for a loan.”
As a result, Sophia and Michael have turned their life’s passion into a successful business. It’s tough work that entails early mornings and long days, but Sophia says it’s worth it to be surrounded by such magnificent creatures.
“They’re just such intuitive animals, and they each have their own very specific personality. When you connect and find that bond with one and you earn their trust, there’s nothing like it!”
Youth Beef Heifer Initiative empowers youth to learn first-hand what is involved in cattle production
Nourishing the next generation with the education and resources they need to be successful in the industry
New partnership helps beginning farmers find their path
Patterson Fruit Farm sets up future generations for success
Youth Beef Heifer Initiative empowers youth to learn first-hand what is involved in cattle production Read story
Nourishing the next generation with the education and resources they need to be successful in the industry Read story
New partnership helps beginning farmers find their path Read story
Patterson Fruit Farm sets up future generations for success Read story
Helping make a difference in the lives of hungry Tennesseans Read story
Patronage, competitive rates and a spirit of working together are just a few benefits of belonging to a cooperative lender Read story
Proudly backing youth in agriculture through our state fair support Read story
No-till pioneers continue "legacy of stewardship" on Kentucky family farm Read story
A chance exposure draws a south Memphis student to the industry Read story
How one Ohio grain farmer and his son parked their plow to protect the land Read story
Regenerative farming at Indiana operation is good for the soil and our planet Read story
Tennessee dairy farmer prioritizes care for livestock, land and environment Read story
Meet the Gregorich family, first-generation beef farmers making their rural living dreams a reality Read story
How MANRRS helps steer minority talent to careers in agriculture Read story
Four Farm Credit Mid-America Advocate Council Members Share Their Stories Read story
Farm Credit Mid-America expands food bank assistance amid the COVID-19 crisis Read story
For students across the nation, FFA isn’t just an extra-curricular activity. It’s the foundation of a future in agriculture. Read story
Many of our 1,100 employees cite FFA as a formative life experience and have stayed involved with the organization. Here are a few of their stories. Read story
Producer and former FFA member Kenton Abrams shares his experience as a young farmer and his passion for agriculture. Read story
Several organizations across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee work to get fresh fruit, vegetables and animal protein onto the plates of those in need. Read story
Ag teacher, 4-H leader and first generation rancher Josey Miller shares her experience in Part I of our 'Before the Farm' series. Read story
More than 6 million young people have benefitted from the 4-H experience, thanks in large part to volunteer advisors and trained 4-H educators who encourage them to discover their passion while developing lifelong skills like teamwork and leadership. Read story
By: Molly Rubio Read story
Get an insider's look behind the scenes at a county fair 4-H show. Read story
Real-world thinking coupled with real-world experience is crucial to agriculture education today. Read story
Family Scholar House helps parents forge paths to self-sufficiency for themselves and their children. Read story
The Homegrown by Heroes label helps veterans and active-duty service members set their farm products apart. Read story
At ag-focused Global Impact STEM Academy, students learn through hands-on projects
Seneca FFA in Louisville is urban, diverse and setting youth up for success Read story
Grain bin rescue tubes help rural fire departments keep communities safe
Virtual pork tours invite grade schoolers to explore the reality of modern farming
Farmers and food banks bring fresh food to local communities.. Read story
Beginning farmers are seeking educational opportunities to help their operations succeed Read story
One 4-H camp in Ohio needed funding to "Raise the Roof". Read story
Last fall, Purdue broke ground on two buildings that make up the new Purdue Animal Sciences complex. Read story
Last fall, Farm Credit staff volunteers planted vegetables in Unicoi High School's greenhouse. The crops will stock the school cafeteria. Read story
Meet two of tomorrow’s ag leaders, from two very different backgrounds. Read story