“Stacy-Horses have been a passion of mine from as long as I can remember, but unfortunately I never had the opportunity to interact with them until a little less than a year ago.  A little less than a year ago I started working for an equestrian center just cleaning stalls on top of my full-time job that I work 2nd shift in.

I was fortunate enough to meet the trainer that comes to the barn to break out the horses there. He was nice enough to allow me to shadow him with shoeing and training and also to taught me how to ride, started me in barrels. With doing all of those things as you can imagine my passion grew much larger and it took up a lot more of my time. This is where I need your motherly advice.

I have a fiancé and a 3 year old daughter whom I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for, but she and I have not been seeing eye to eye with my passion. She thinks its just a hobby and it takes way to much of my time.

My ultimate goal is to be a great farrier and an even better trainer. With the full-time job, the part time job at the barn, and trying to learn to shoe, train, and become a better rider myself my time is very limited, and unfortunately my fiancé and my daughter have suffered. How do I keep an equal balance with everything going on? Do I quit cleaning stalls to apprentice more? Do I give up my dream all together to make others happy? Or I continue down the path I’m on? Or none of the above? I’m very confused. Also my fiancé is giving me an ultimatum because she just doesn’t get the passion people have for your line of work. Any advice given would be extremely helpful and appreciated. You are a great inspiration and icon. I hope to meet you some day soon. Take care.”

my response……

Choices, choices….life is full of choices and each one helps determine our path in life. I cannot tell you what to do but I can tell you what I have done and share a bit with you how I think.

It is exciting that you have now found the opportunity to express a passion you have had for such a long time. I love learning and when combined with passion….it can light a person on fire. I think I can feel your excitement coming through the computer!

Do keep in mind that in most things there is a ‘honeymoon’ period and you are still in that period with the horses. This feeling can also be magnified if you are unhappy with your current job as it will make this ‘new job’ look even more appealing…magnifying the honeymoon period and intensifying the feelings.

Stacy Westfall showing in western pleasure early in horse training career.

Stacy Westfall showing in western pleasure early in horse training career.

Your fiancé thinks this is just a hobby…and in a way, right now, she is probably correct. The IRS would agree with her. Some of the guidelines they have for business or hobby are;

• Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?

• Does the taxpayer depend on income from the activity?

• Has the taxpayer changed methods of operation to improve profitability?

• Does the taxpayer or his/her advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?

• Has the taxpayer made a profit in similar activities in the past?

• Does the activity make a profit in some years?

Most people in a start up phase will allow for great leeway in the name of learning.

Things will go faster and smoother, both financially and with your fiancé, if you take the time to write out a plan for how- and when- this is going to turn into a business.

I highly recommend that you check out the website for Dan Miller and 48 Days to the Work You Love.  Listen to the podcasts, read everything he has. It would be my guess that the faster path to income will be in the farrier work, depending on your area, so maybe start the business around that idea.

You state that your ultimate goal is to be a great farrier and an even better trainer. I believe that you were referring to your business goals here but I will challenge you to think bigger.

My fastest path to my ‘ultimate goal’ is to imagine lying on my death bed.

Stacy Westfall priority list as seen on Facebook; wife, mother, horsewoman.

Stacy Westfall priority list as seen on Facebook; wife, mother, horsewoman.

Instantly, life shifts into a different perspective. It is not an accident that my Facebook page says, “I am a wife, a mother, and a horsewoman.”…in that order.

I could be busier than I am in my business; I could do more expos, clinics and other appearances, but I don’t. Right now that is a choice I am making because my kids are 12, 14 and 15 years old. They won’t always live with me. I can see this stage of life and I know it will likely come to a close when they graduate from high school. I choose to make the most of the time I have with them even if it isn’t the best decision for growing my business.

I am not suggesting that this is an either/or choice. I am stubborn enough to think that people can have both family and business success…as long as they decide ahead of time what both of those look like.

There are many people out there with more wisdom on this subject, Dan Miller included, that can teach you about finding that balance.

Early on in our business our life wasn’t balanced but Jesse and I were on the same page. For the first two years out of college we worked full time jobs, had children, and trained on the side. By definition it was a hobby. Three years into our marriage we filed taxes on the new business and during the next four years Jesse worked a full time job AND rode horses…enough that it was a second full time job. I had our third child, was a full time mom and horse trainer, stall cleaner, lawn mower…you get the picture.

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

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

It took six years of hard work before the horses became our only business. During that time our income was below or just at the federal poverty line.

For me personally, I had to look directly at the situation and decide that if push came to shove and I had to choose- I choose family.

With that in mind, consider the words of Robert Frost;

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

     

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

        

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

       

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.