The Gritty Bit – A Series on Real Horse People – Crystal, 34
-What made you decide to pursue a life that involved horses?
I love working with kids, horses, and helping all people have a great experience with horses. I have a passion for rescuing horses and helping elderly horses live their best life
-Who or what inspired you in life?
My first instructor from my childhood was my inspiration to teach kids. My instructor from college was my inspiration to build a riding academy.
-What's the hardest lesson you've ever learned?
Running a horse business with my Dad was not conducive to a good healthy environment for horses and clients both.
-What is your favorite part about working with horses?
Being with my horses, just us, no clients, doing barn chores, riding and exercising, and being at the barn through the course of the day, just the land and trees, my horses and the farm.
-What's the toughest part about working with horses?
Not making enough money to support my business, my home, and my family.
-What do you want to be remembered for when you're gone?
The kids and families that had wonderful experiences with my horses, and grew to love my lesson horses like family. Having a safe lesson program for kids that grew into fine horseman and women. Fostering a sincere appreciation for the horse as an individual.
-What's your biggest regret?
Allowing my Dad to take over my business and feed my horses too little, and having to work two jobs and teach lessons and not being present enough on the farm to run my own business. Eventually, I closed the riding academy because my Dad, an alcoholic and emotionally abusive, was ruining my business and my horses were staying too thin because he took overfeeding. He disagreed with me about feeding and he felt the horses looked fine but they were too thin to work. I sold and re-homed my lesson horses and moved into an apartment. The landowners sold the 12-acre farm for 750,000 and I won't see any of that money because I only leased it for 6 years.
-What do you do when you aren't with horses?
I have two sons, work two jobs, and we are in Boy Scouts.
-What struggles did you have when you first started or do you still have today?
Should have been more firm with clients paying regularly. Should have created a lesson contract outlining an agreed-upon payment plan. I always struggled with clients canceling due to bad weather.