Would it surprise you to know: we received food stamps when getting started?

I clearly need to tell my story sometime…from the beginning.

Jesse Westfall was Congress Reserve Champion the same day our youngest son was born.

Would it surprise you to know:

  • I grew up in a family that struggled to make ends meet daily.
  • I attended two clinics and took less than 20 lessons before attending a college.
  • The first 5 years of our marriage we made less than $20,000 per year (while working 14-16 hour days ‘real jobs’ and horses).
  • We had 3 kids in the first four years of our marriage.
  • We received food stamps early in our marriage.
  • We trained & showed other peoples horses because we couldn’t afford to train & show our own.

Would it surprise you to know:

  • We started training horses by renting stalls at a boarding barn while both working full time jobs.
  • We worked the ‘horse job’ as a side job for six years before it became a ‘real job.’
  • Before becoming ‘famous’ my husband and I had a waiting list for horses to come into training…due to our reputation locally. 
  • When we stopped training horses we had a 2 year waiting list!
  • There is still a demand that is not filled for horse trainers who have compassion, honesty and ability.

I have a desire to help people get started in the equine industry. I have connections to find information and to share it with you. I need to hear your stories so I can know how to best help. If you are someone with an interest in getting started or improving your horse career then please, tell me your struggles. I’ve probably been there. 

If you know someone who would benefit from this please share so they can get involved. There is still room in this industry! It is possible…not easy…but possible!

32 Comments

  1. Ava Rose on October 20, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Stacy: I am accepted to attend the University of Findlay next fall for English horse training and riding and equine business management. Any tips on how to earn money and gain clients after I graduate? Also, any tips you would be willing to give me would be very much appreciated! Thank you, Ava

  2. Amy C. on September 15, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I have a question about the equine career conference. Will there be an offered shuttle bus from the airport to the ranch, and if so what airport would that be? Really thinking of comming, but I have to calculate the cost first. Lol. 🙂

  3. Jessica Shively on September 3, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Hey Stacy- first off I would like to say I absolutely admire you and your accomplishments! I greatly appreciate this article and I would truley love to pick your brain. I started my equine business almost 4 years ago and it’s been a struggle. I know great things don’t come easy that’s for sure! I quit my full time job a year and a half ago to run my facility full-time. I just wanted to ask you a few questions on how to get more known, etc. Thank you and God bless!

  4. Lisa on August 30, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Stacy! This is Lisa up here in Albion, Maine. I soooo wanted a pony when I was a child and it did not happen. I took riding lessons in high school that I paid for with my own money and often rode my bicycle to and from my lessons. After college, as a single gal living in apartments, there was no place for a horse. Fast forward several years: after I was married, we left DC to come to Maine in part so I could have a horse. Now, I have been blessed with a herd of three. I started “Balanced Horsemanship” in 2016 to help pay for the 3rd horse and my equine passion. Most of my clients are people who always wanted a horse and are finally exploring that possibility. We learn about leading a horse, why there are different halters, what is the difference between 1st cut and 3rd cut hay, etc.-all the things I wish I had known when I got my first horse as an adult. I don’t have a trailer but now have a friend that I go to shows with and have had some success showing. The biggest challenge I have is finding clients. Uncle Henry’s & Craigslist ads produced no leads and I have business cards and fliers up all over Central Maine-this has blessed me with one of my current clients. I am open to suggestions on how to get “my name out there” if you will and grow my business. Thanks so much! Lisa : )

    • Stacy Westfall on August 30, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Can you email me some of the ads? westfallhorsemanship@gmail

      • Lisa on September 2, 2017 at 7:52 am

        The ads have been sent to your email. Thanks so much. : ) Lisa

        • Stacy Westfall on September 2, 2017 at 11:34 am

          Thanks! I’ll take a look.

  5. Kaitlyn on August 29, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    I grew up with horses but have never owned a horse. This dream of mine inspired me to enroll in university to one day (hopefully) be an equine vet so that I could afford a horse. As a full time college student with a part time job, it wouldn’t be fair to buy one now as I would rather focus on college. However, when do you finally know you are prepared to buy your first horse?

    • Stacy Westfall on August 29, 2017 at 10:03 pm

      This is a great question for a blog! My first quick tip is: the purchase price will most likely not be your greatest expense. Did you see todays blog with our foals face cut…yuck. If your lucky all goes well…but you need a plan for vet bills. At this point I have more in vet bills for horses than I do doctor bills for kids…I’m not complaining but I am tell it straight! Feed, board, vet, farrier, dentist…be prepared.

  6. Sonnie Marie on August 29, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I have always been heavily involved in the veterinary field as a technician and my husband is in the Navy.. I did high school rodeo and trained the horses that I did ride… first one was a TWH/ARAB/QH and then was gifted a grade trail QH mare who I ended up to breakaway roping and barrels and poles.. got married moved across the world and moved back with our children on the farm, traveled far too for a good job, lost the timing… My husband is not a horse man… He is supportive as in that is a cute hobby, but not in a way we share the same vision that it could be a lifestyle.( he shares the therapuetic riding)
    So I think that is my biggest obstacle, that he is doing his crop production thing and I have slipped into I just can’t afford to do this horse thing right now and want to do it right… or I just don’t want to be doing it all by myself…
    Where there is a will; there is a way… Thank you for sharing your story…truely it takes action and doing to get there.. I will make time for it.

  7. Shelly on August 29, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Thanks Stacy, for sharing your story with us. Not knowing, I assumed you grew up in a “horsey-family” with everything at your fingertips: ranch, mentors, $ etc. To hear you rose from the bottom and struggled with the rest of us makes your success all the more admirable !
    Thanks for being so honest and thanks again for sharing your horse knowledge!

  8. Candice Ray on August 29, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Hi Stacy! You are such an inspiration and give hope! I appreciate you sharing your journey. I’ve been a professional trainer for about 3 years now, started out part time. My question is how do you juggle family? We’re just starting our family. I’ve got an 18 month old boy and I’m due next month with our little girl. I’ve built up some clientele and absolutely love it. Eat, sleep, breath, horses! But at the same time I don’t want to take time away from my babies. (I mean they’re only little once.) Any input is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  9. Lisa on August 29, 2017 at 5:26 am

    I’m 56, Stacy, and if I could do it all over I would. I would have persevered to have my own facility. People used to ask me to work with their horses when I was in my 30’s and then I got diverted by children, work 12+ hrs a day) and divorce.

    Training, teaching and riding have always been my love and if their was a way to go back in time, I would.

    If you are young and able bodied, don’t give up on your dream; trust me, as you will regret it in your later years. Thank you Stacy for all you do sharing with all of us. All my horses are gone now, but I still devour everything you put out!

  10. Annet on August 28, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Stacey
    I knew from an early age what I wanted to do for a living and was heading down that road from 14 on. I worked for a popular trainer out of high school but then the economy tanked and he lost his barn. I had no job, no support from family and couldn’t afford to keep a horse. So I let horses go for about 5 years, getting back into it when I met my husband. We too have struggled to find time and finances to keep our dream alive and during the 22 years we’ve been together I became an RN thinking I’d have scheduling freedom and an income that could support the horses. I just ended up working 24/7 and finally ended up back in the horse business full time at 45. I’m now trying to establish myself as a trainer at an age when most people are taking it easy and planning their retirement. It’s good to see that honesty and hard work might be rewarded and that I do stand a chance.

  11. Martina Braden on August 28, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Stacy–I am a high school business teacher and I can appreciate how you are willing to offer advice to people who are potentially wanting to get into the equine business. If I could rewind my life to my earlier years I would have loved to be a part of the equine world. I do have a horse–Hildy–the one I took to your clinic and I am very happy with working with her everyday and building a stronger bond with her. I find joy when I can see the light bulb go on with my horse when I am trying to communicate with her. Buy the way she also teaches me some things as well. LOL One of my near future goals would be to buy a house and build an indoor arena where I could ride year round. I would love to have the children from my church come and learn to ride and cookout hamburgers and hot dogs. LOL I can teach the basics and I feel that would be fun!

  12. Julia on August 28, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    This is the motivation I needed! I’ve looked up to you since I first saw you ride Roxy and have always prided myself on being from the same area of ohio! (Holmes County!) I am most surprised and also comforted to know that your family struggled. My parents had it hard but always supported my crazy horse obsession. This post helps me remember my only dream is to ride and work with horses for a living no matter how rough the road may be! Thank you! Hope to see you out riding sometime!

  13. Ashleigh Raguso on August 28, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Hi Stacy,
    I’ve always admired your riding and your spirit and now I do even more. I’m a single mom who has experience many blows ober the last several years, the latest being the loss of my only job. I started out on a path, with a clear set goal of making my passion for horses into a career. I unfortunately have lost that path and have found myself working retail jobs desperately clinging to what I still want to make happen. I’m just so unsure of myself. I doubt my abilities due to unfair criticism and honestly for being out of the show scene for so long. Little money and little reputation isn’t proving to be beneficial in my plight to gain success. However, I have a renewed drive and am working hard to get a certification that will get me closer to being in a barn everyday, all day, and I have a little Buckskin that has the mind to take me where I want to go in the ring if I can make it happen. I’ve always said, let your horse be your validation. I still believe that and I’m still trying. Thank you for sharing and giving hope.

    • Stacy Westfall on August 28, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      You’re very welcome. I was with a long time friend over the weekend and we were sharing crazy memories (both past and present) and I realized how much more of the story there is to tell…because it helps everyone relate!

  14. Debbie on August 28, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I have been a passionate about horses my entire life! I am a Parelli Level 4 graduate on a quest to see how far I can take my horsemanship. I also have a strong desire to teach people how to communicate with horse so that they can have the relationship that they so desire! I have been trying to get started teaching for the last 8 months but my attempts have been unsuccessful. I have advertised locally, I have cards in all the local tack stores and I talk to people every chance I get. I am not sure how else to market myself?

    • Stacy Westfall on August 28, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      You have so much potential! I’m working on writing class material on the subjects of finding your target audience, target area and using online tools. I’m thinking maybe I will do a test webinar in another month or so…keep your eyes open! Keep chiming in. The more detail the better. I’m also considering some coaching calls….I just need one of those time turners from Harry Potter…
      Keep going! It is possible!

  15. Dana kesselring on August 28, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    My hardest part is running out of energy after saddling and riding 6-8 horses . I’m 56 and also have two other jobs

    • Stacy Westfall on August 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Yes, that is tiring! Any youngsters nearby that could learn by saddling? I was at a barn where one young lady saddled, walked & trotted horse to warm up, then handed it to the trainer and took the one he just dismounted from to cool out. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 4H kid?

      • Amy Edwards on August 29, 2017 at 6:44 am

        Question for you I have an 11,year old daughter that wants to show and I have the horse I just got her broke to ride for her, because like me my daughter loves horses as much as I do but there isn’t a 4-h that deals with horses in my county 🙁 , I was in 4-h from the age of 8 to 18 then showed one year in AQHA got champion 14-18 trail horse in 1990.. I would love nothing more to show again but my health won’t let me, but my daughter can as long as her horse catori acts right, never been shown, wasn’t professionally trained. . Do I take the horse to a show and just let her watch? I’ve done all I can do as a single mom..

        • Stacy Westfall on August 29, 2017 at 7:22 pm

          I’m sorry about your health:(
          Who started the horse? Is there a chance that she can hang out around that barn? And if there are horse shows nearby there are probably show barns that need stalls cleaned. I cleaned houses to get my horse hauled to shows when I was a kid. We had no trailer.

          • Amy Edwards on September 2, 2017 at 3:57 am

            There is this trainer bear Bolton but he wants 750 a month to train a horse.. the lady that broke my daughters horse catori wow I’m going to be nice but I gave her a stud colt out of my mare and a heeler pup to break her for two months, she only did it for a month and a half I gave her extra to trim catoris feet and when chey and I went there her feet looked like they did when we took her.. 🙁 bear bolton wouldn’t do anything like that for her and as for shows if I can find any I’ll try to take her and catori I just wish things were different and I wasn’t disabled any more.. I have the knowledge if my daughter just listens to me.. of course from 18 to 43 years old things change alot too.. I’ll see what I can do on my end but there’s not alot of paint horse people or quarter people down here in hick town Tennessee lol sorry henderson Tennessee all these people have walking horses..



  16. Amanda on August 28, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    My mother and I have had horse’s for over 20 years. The horses saved me from the teenage rebellious years. But at a weird time in my life, I felt I needed to leave the country life behind. I sold my horses, met a wonderful man, moved to the big city. That same wonderful man moved me back to the country, and we had two beautiful daughter’s after infertility battles. We too struggled daily. But he knew I would never be truly happy without a horse in my life. I have always wanted to own and manage my own riding stables. One where I can actually help people learn to trail ride and enjoy horses, not just hop on and go. I have worked for a couple of riding stables like that. It was neat for the customers, but not the horses. I have been in all different types of work from stall cleaner to office management. Now currently back to stall cleaning. And I love every minute of it. I still have a dream of owning my own horse business. I still want to help people enjoy trail riding. I also would like to be able to help horses enjoy people.

    • Stacy Westfall on August 28, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Keep at it! Maybe start by writing down what you would like to change about the trail rides. You have a good point.

  17. Melody Rynne on August 28, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Stacy, yours is a wonderful success story. We had a desire to be cattle producers in Queensland, but I have a brother who inherited the land, so my husband and I set about getting our own. We started with 3 little boys and one more on the way! My horse and my husband had an accounting practice in partnership with another guy. So work we have and still do. But with a few lucky breaks and really hard work we have had some success. Raised 4 sons and have 2 mechanical engineers and two carpenters. We breed Angus cattle and Australian stock horses. Number 3 son is riding cutting horses in Canada right now for a fabulous trainer and playing polo crosse as well, number 4 son does campdrafting and works for us on the farm on weekends, the two older boys are home for branding and weaning. We still work way too many hours, but the message is, like yours, hard work pays off. We tell our sons to work hard and dream big. The horse industry in Australia is a tough gig too but if the two youngest want it, I’m sure it’s possible. You are fantastic to share your success and support. I am grateful every day for my own time in the saddle. Thanks for sharing your story.

  18. Jenny on August 28, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    (I don’t see my first comment so trying again lol, forgive me if it’s a duplicate lol)

    You know, I am not totally surprised that you persevered through those times to be where you are today. Your work ethic, drive and compassion is clear in everything I have seen you do. I think money and resources are always the biggest hurdles. Also, the horse industry can be such an opinionated environment that I think it takes A LOT to prove yourself. Myself, I am way too much of a newbie to consider a career in the horse world. What I would consider my dream job would be to run a therapeutic riding facility. When I took lessons over 20 years ago, the Sunshine Foundation used to bring a van of kids out during the summer months (during riding camp). The kids came with all different abilities and needs for assistance but they all had such a wonderful time. The funding dried up and they had to stop coming. But the smiles and giggles I will never forget. That would be my dream horsey job. Maybe when I retire 😉

    • Stacy Westfall on August 28, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      You experienced a spam filter…I approve comments to prevent crazy spam…but you made it!
      There are many different ways to be involved and therapy is one with huge rewards. Maybe you can volunteer sooner and learn the ropes…you never know where it will lead 🙂

      • Jenny on September 1, 2017 at 10:41 am

        Stacy!!! I just wanted to update you! I took your advice! Why wait?! So I can’t buy a big barn and set up my own facility for therapeutic riding so I bit the bullet and reached out and starting September 16th I am working with a new student as she starts her her therapeutic riding lessons!! It was perfect timing! Thank you!!!

        • Stacy Westfall on September 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm

          Happy Dance! Go for it! You got a win, keep going! If you hit a block, keep going!
          Congratulations! Keep me posted!

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