We are all about small business here at ABQ-Live, and what’s great about our job is being able to highlight some of the local businesses here in town that you may not have heard of. We recently had the chance to learn about Enchanted Equine Adventures LLC, a local company that offers horseback riding as a form of therapy. Seriously! If you have never heard of therapeutic riding, don’t feel bad…neither had we. But after researching this Albuquerque-based company, we felt like it would be a disservice to our community to NOT share something so awesome. Did we mention there are horses involved?
Kendra J. Loring, owner and riding instructor at Enchanted Equine Adventures, talked to us about how and why she got into the business and how she plans on staying in it for years to come!
Can you give me a quick rundown and history of Enchanted Equine?
Enchanted Equine Adventures, LLC was founded in 2012 by me, Kendra J. Loring, with the support of my family. I have been horse crazy since I was a child. I grew up on Cape Cod, MA and pursued my love of horses through 4-H. I attended Johnson and Wales University and received a BS and AS in Equine Studies/Riding. After college, I spent many years in retail management learning how to run a business. I utilized all the ABQ small business resources available to find a way to start Enchanted Equine Adventures (EEA).
We began EEA with two horses adopted from the NM Horse Rescue at Walkin n Circles Ranch. That number quickly became three, when we realized that one of the horses was pregnant. Acheron was born in July of 2013 and has become part of the program! We have a birthday party for him every summer at the end of our Horsemanship Program.
Currently we have five horses and offer therapeutic riding, riding lessons, horsemanship programs and equine assisted activities to the ABQ market. We specialize in kids, seniors, veterans, first responders, homeschool kids, people with MS, anxiety and PTSD as well as kids and adults with disabilities.
Why did you decide to start this business?
I always knew I was going to have a horse business, but I just didn’t know how I was going to go about it. I learned about therapeutic riding after one of my siblings was diagnosed with MS. The more I researched it, the more I knew this was what I was meant to do. So I became certified to teach therapeutic riding by PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) and started EEA. I knew this was the way for me to impact people’s lives and bring the joy I know horses provide to others.
Did you have any road bumps while you were starting up?
The path EEA has taken did not lead to very many road bumps, every experience was a learning opportunity. I learned how I did want to run my program and I learned how I did not want to run it. I like to reach out and speak to others in my field and ask them tons of questions. I took lots of classes at the Small Business Development Center, WESST, Accion, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce. I educated myself as much as possible, with as many free resources I could find! I found people who I could ask business questions of when they arose in my work. I was determined to start the business without debt, so the only road bump I’ve had is no working capital available.
What does a day in the life of the horses and you look like?
We start our mornings with breakfast around 7am. The five horses live and eat together as a herd. I believe horses should be kept in the most natural environment possible. Then we usually have lessons at 10 or 11am, so the horses get warmed up and ready for clients. Our clients come prepared to groom and tack the horse up before riding. Usually we ride in the paddock, but some days we go out on trail rides. A few of my clients have their own horses, so I go to them and teach them on their own horses. Some days, I ride with my clients. That’s fun, because both horses get a work out and I can show the client a few things that I would otherwise just explain in words. Every now and then we take a field trip to one of Bernalillo County’s public horse arenas and ride there. In the summer, dinner for the horses is 7pm. But in the winter its 5pm. The seasons and the weather have a big impact on my business.
What skills, traits, and qualities do you think people can learn most with your services?
I think confidence is the number one thing that people walk away with after learning to ride a horse. Horses are prey animals and humans are predators. So, asking a 1,000 pound rabbit to trust you and listen to you becomes quite an accomplishment. You cannot be timid with horses; I teach my clients the definition of “assertive” during our first lesson.
What’s your favorite part of owning this business?
The best part about owning this business is the horses. They are always fun to just hang out with and watch them. It is therapeutic for me, just to sit, watch them eat and be horses. I ride as often as I can which helps keep the horses in shape and keeps me grounded. My wife, Carla, and I love to take Henri and Cinnabar out on trail rides to relax.
What kind of advice can you give people that might be nervous to start riding?
I would recommend that they volunteer at a program that utilizes horses. Being around them, cleaning up around them and brushing them will give anyone with anxiety a look into how horses interact. The next step would be to start working with a horse in a round pen. This forces the human to be the leader, the horse becomes the follower and you develop a trusting relationship. After you have established a connection, I would work with a riding instructor who specializes in anxiety.
In the next 3-5 years, what is your goal for the business?
The next few years are very exciting for EEA. But the next step is to hire an assistant program manager to help with scheduling, organizing events, volunteer trainings, working horses and ranch maintenance. Soon we will be starting a new program for executives and one for First Responders.
Are there any current or partnerships that you are working on?
EEA is always searching for new partnerships and opportunities. Currently, we have a working relationship with the Carrie Tingley Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Mexico, the NM Horse Rescue at Walkin n Circles Ranch, Pegasus Law, Military OneSource, Accion, SCORE, 1 Million Cups ABQ, the CNM STEMulus Center, UNM Small Business Institute, Pegasus Therapy, Mandy’s Farm and FosterEd: New Mexico, among others. We are working on programs for the Girl Scouts of NM and 4-H.
If you want to learn more about therapeutic riding at Enchanted Equine Adventures, be sure to follow them on Facebook @EnchantedEquineAdventuresNM and Instagram @EnchantedEquine1 or visit their website at www.enchantedadventuresnm.com