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From Tough Calls to Strong Foundations: My Horse Industry Journey

I think it's fair to say most horse business owners dread selling horses. Sometimes, if we've played our cards just right, we make money on a horse sale instead of just breaking even, and if that's the case it's often a large part of our income for the year.

Unfortunately the horses we'd like to sell are often not the ones people want to buy. My strategy has been to evaluate my herd and list what I could part with. Though it may seem counterintuitive and often cause panic in those that follow our herd, the reality is most of them will not sell. I will list several, and when enough sell to reach the desired goal, we pull the rest of the ads.

Though it might seem callous to part with these horses we have all grown to care about so much; what is the harm in finding them homes that love them as much as we do? The ability to make difficult decisions in the horse world is important to the success and growth of the business. If selling horses to ensure properly feeding, housing, and caring for the rest as well as ourselves (yes the humans should be well cared for too) then why isn't it viewed with more positivity? Our riding school has sleek and happy horses, and we sometimes offer them to the public to further our goals.

Our business has went through some pretty crazy changes in the past year, and so has my personal riding journey. Growing from 30 to over 50 students, doing a 180 discipline change, and adding several employees to the mix. It's my job to look at a spreadsheet every morning and crunch the numbers. Do we have enough coming into make payroll and put up hay next month? What about 3 or 6 months from now? People are counting on me, I better guess right.

When you see a trainer, riding school, or small horse business offering horses, it isn't because the horses are culls. It's usually a spreadsheet decision to ensure the well being of the humans and horses behind the scenes of the horse industry.

When people visit our home for the first time, they often say, "This is nice!" Then comes the, "You're so young, though!" What you can't see is that none of this was handed to us, our success is built on a foundation of making hard decisions. Those choices made the road I'm still walking today. - Leilani Nichols

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