How did I end up in Sahuarita, Arizona, owning a horse boarding facility? My journey certainly is not in a straight line – more like switchbacks on a mountain. Generally in the right direction, but with lots of ups and downs and reversals along the way.
I was a horse-crazy kid born into a family that did not have much to do with animals at all. I really don’t think that anyone in my family understood how much horses flowed through my blood, but despite this, my parents found ways for me to ride.
I took my first formal riding lessons ate age 8, but really started riding regularly at age 11. I volunteered at a therapeutic riding facility in exchange for weekly lessons. I loved being on a horse more than anything, and it was always my dream to be able to ride full-time.
After high school, my mom really wanted me to attend the University of Wyoming and become a pharmacist (I have no idea why she thought this was the right path for me). Her theory always was that horses should be a hobby and I should have a “real” job that pays for my hobby.
After looking at every college in the United States that had an equine program, I decided to attend Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. I majored in Equestrian Studies and graduated a semester early. Although I had a few small scholarships, I had to pay for the majority of my college education out of pocket, by myself. Luckily, I scored the perfect job – working front desk at a motel so I could study and earn money at the same time. It was far from my dream job, but it paid the bills.
The smartest thing I did in college was buy my first house at age 20. I graduated with $50,000 in student loans, and I was able to sell my house 6 years later for a good profit, which paid off a large portion.
This is when I lost sight of my dreams. The remaining debt hanging over my head scared me, so instead of going to work for a horse trainer, I decided to get a “real job.” I got on the Montana Job Service website and applied for every job in the state that paid over $15 per hour and had full benefits. My first job after college was as a 911 dispatcher in tiny Lewistown, Montana, which I refer to as the Ninth Circle of Hell, from Dante’s Inferno.
Living in Lewistown was terrible, but I met my husband, so that was good. Unfortunately, it meant I had to stay there for another 9 years until he could retire from law enforcement. So, once again, I self-sabotaged and took any job that would pay the bills rather than focusing on what I really wanted – to open a horse boarding facility and ride full-time.
My daughter was born in December 2014, and it was then that I really committed to living my dream. No more self-sabotage. I had three years until my husband could retire, and I used those years to get everything lined up. I wrote down everything I wanted in a property. I visualized my ideal day. I made a vision board. I made myself really stay on-track.
My husband and I bought one investment property, and doubled our money selling it. By some crazy twist of fate, my perfect property came on the market at the same time. We put in an offer, sight unseen…and the seller rejected it because the sale of our investment property hadn’t closed yet, and he would not accept a contingent offer. They accepted another one.
I was heartbroken. I knew properties like that do not come along often, and certainly not in our ideal area. And again, by some twist of fate, the first buyer dropped out, and the seller accepted our offer. Thirty days later, in June 2017, we closed on my dream property.
I would have moved in immediately, but I had to wait until my husband was closer to retirement. Our Lewistown house sold after only 17 days on the market (unheard of in a market where houses can sit for over a year). On a cold, snowy March morning, we left Lewistown, and three days later, we finally came home.
High Plains Arena officially opened in June 2018, but things are really just getting started. I discounted how slow everything is in Arizona in the summer, but now that the snowbirds are back and 4H is back in session, we have exciting events coming up, and I love that I am finally living my dream.
Welcome to High Plains Arena and thank you for following my journey.
Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.