Galloping to Greatness

The Barn at Bay Horse Inn Owner Excited About New Ventures

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography / Amy Counts Photography

Nothing feels better than fulfilling a community need. Years ago, Amanda Johnson, owner of the Barn at Bay Horse Inn, used to have to drive her daughter, Emma, to Louisville for horse training lessons.

When Johnson was presented with the opportunity to purchase Travis Creek Stables, located on Stones Crossing Road, she jumped at the opportunity, since a few of Emma’s horses were already boarding there.

The Barn at Bay Horse Inn

Earlier this summer she established the Stables of Bay Horse Inn, which offers horse training, boarding, periodic camps, parties, and riding lessons for ages 5 and up.

“We’re excited to offer our years of experience and knowledge to kids, teens and adults of all riding levels,” says Johnson, who envisioned making the Stables an extension of the Bay Horse brand. “We provide a safe and welcoming environment, and offer both English and western riding lessons. There is plenty of opportunity to grow at the Stables location. Our community needs this so badly.”

At the core of the business is a horse named Shiloh’s Old Gold, affectionately known as Shiloh. When Emma was 4 years old, her brother, Eli, and their mom moved into a log cabin that sits behind the Barn at Bay Horse Inn (though at the time the event barn and saloon didn’t exist.) A neighbor, Ellen, introduced the children to her horses, and so began Emma’s love for these magnificent creatures. Emma’s obsession with horses quickly grew. Johnson knew her daughter wanted to not only ride, but also build a life around horses.

Ellen could see the passion Emma had for horses and knew her perfect companion was Shiloh, a sorrel Quarter Horse. Before pairing the two, Ellen encouraged the family to find property with a pasture and a barn.

Johnson promised Emma that she would bring her dream to fruition. In 2012, when Emma was 6 years old, they bought Shiloh.

The Barn at Bay Horse Inn

“Shiloh was Emma’s first show horse,” Johnson says. “He’s shown the [American Quarter Horse Association] circuit for years.”

Johnson had her own dream – to build a place where the community could gather to create lifelong memories. She purchased the property that Bay Horse sits on, as well as the property in front. In 2016 she opened the Barn at Bay Horse Inn, a rustic yet elegant wedding and event center that’s hailed as one of the best event venues in Indiana.

For the past 11 years Shiloh has lived on the residential part of the Bay Horse property. Three years ago Johnson remarried and moved to her husband’s family farm in Bargersville.

For years, Shiloh has been a fixture at the Barn at Bay Horse Inn.

“People drive by and see Shiloh,” Johnson says. “Kids come up to the fence. He’s been in a lot of wedding photos.”

In recent years Johnson has been in touch with Mike Cunningham, founder of Cunningham Restaurant Group, to discuss developing the property in front of Bay Horse. Now that project is coming to fruition and will feature Stone Creek restaurant, Bru Burger Bar, and retail space. Construction will begin in late August or early September. Shiloh’s barn, however, will remain. Johnson hopes that at some point it may be refurbished and used for private dining. When Cunningham asked Johnson if she wanted to name the property, her answer came easily.

“Shiloh’s Corner,” she said.

The Barn at Bay Horse Inn

Several weeks ago Shiloh moved to the farm in Bargersville, making this a full-circle journey for Emma, who will attend the University of Georgia next fall on a scholarship, to ride on a Division I equestrian team.

Johnson has built a legacy rooted in Shiloh’s story and her passion for helping others create lifelong memories. As Shiloh lives out his final years on the farm, every new adventure with the Bay Horse brand is rooted in the connection a child can have with a horse. The hope is that Shiloh’s legacy will inspire another child to find and pursue their passions and dreams.

“Emma struck gold with Shiloh,” says Johnson. As did the community.

For more information, call 317-760-8778 or visit barnatbayhorse.com.

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