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June 2020 Newsletter - How I got from there to here - Part 5

Updated: Jun 22


Okay, this is where it gets good! I wanted to purchase some land in Colorado ever since my Dad took me there on a vacation when I was a kid. My wife and I found a perfect little piece of land and bought it. Now, Texas is a long way from Colorado. That means a long time in the car, and a long time to think and discuss a lot of things. On our long drive back to Texas we discussed the possibilities of moving to Colorado, and how we could make it happen.


 As we drove, we came up with a plan to sell the business, and make the move. The plan was to prepare our cleaning/restoration business for sale, and allow five years to sell it. Well, our plan of five years only took three months! I remember signing the contract and shaking so much, feeling so tense and uncertain. The second after signing, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I remember feeling so relieved and excited.


My dream of moving to Colorado was going to happen. My thought of having a trail ride business was going to come to reality.


After the final requirements of selling the business were completed, we headed for Colorado. Our plan was to build a small cabin, and list our home in Texas for sale. I listed our property much higher than market value, just in case it didn't work out in Colorado. If the Texas house sold for what we listed it for, it would allow us plenty of money to build our main house.


I was about two months into the build on the cabin, when our realtor from Texas called. She told me that we had an offer, and we took it. It had sold for much higher than I ever expected.


The cabin took three months from the excavation, to move in. I worked on that little house 20-22 hours a day, except Saturdays. I can remember falling asleep while doing plumbing under the sink, and 30 minutes later waking up and going right back to it. The business I sold was very stressful. My customers were usually in a bad mood and really were upset to get a bill for my services. I guess no one enjoys their house flooding and then having to pay money for something they really didn't want. I promised myself, I would never work in a business that people didn't smile for the service provided to them. Horses, always brought smiles. For the first year, I did not make a dollar, but I worked very hard building our new home. I would work during the day, and ride horses in the evenings. I spent hundreds of hours on horseback, training horses that were given to me, or that I rescued from bad situations. They were free, but as anything free, it comes with a price. I learned from horses, how to train horses.

I didn't have a big budget to start a new business, so I learned to train horses for the trail ride business. Sounds easy right? I needed horses that had been bucking, bolting, biting, kicking and labeled as "bad" to carry  inexperienced tourists, in the rough terrain of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It took many hours, which turned into days, then months. It was a commitment, and a desire that kept me going. Just like building my first two houses, I learned how to start something and stick with it.


After getting a good string of horses trained, I started the business. A few things happened, there were a few people that heard about how I trained the "crazy" horses to carry beginner riders in the mountains. Those people told others, and then people started calling me to train their horses. One thing lead to another, and I started the trail ride business, and trained 48 horses in the first year of opening the business.


Things were going great, business was going good, and then I got a job offer. The job was to manage a big ranch. The ranch had thousands of acres to ride horses on, and it was a guest ranch. Located 2 miles from my place, I could ride a horse to work. The best part, I could run my trail ride business there. The owner had high end clients, famous friends, and hundreds of employees. It was like an instant business for me. I ended up taking over 5,000 people riding on my string of "bad" horses, and not one accident.


Since things were going so great, we decided to build our main house. One reason, Kristina was pregnant with our third child, Emma. The other reason, Kristina told me to go build a bigger house because we are having our third child!


It took me 15 months to build our main house. I did everything just as before on the first two houses. The foundation, rebar, pour concrete, plumbing, electrical, framing, windows, doors, roofing, everything, and the interior too. People ask me what the hardest thing about building a house is. I'm here to tell you, it's none of the above, it's having the energy to keep going every day. I came up with a phrase, "I'll go cut just one board", and that would always lead to two, then three, and sure enough I'd stay the whole day. I built the house, trained horses, took people on trail rides, and managed a guest ranch. Life was good, and we were loving our new place in the mountains.


Over the years, we developed a really nice business. I managed 5 ranches at one time. We had a great trail ride business, I traveled all over the U.S. to teach horsemanship in front of thousands of people. We started, and for 6 years operated, a camp for children with cancer where we taught horsemanship. I wouldn't trade one minute of those experiences. Yep, Colorado was good to us. Some say I am crazy for giving all that up. The thing is, I found the true purpose for my life in those mountains. Those experiences prepared me for what is about to happen here in North Carolina!


To be Continued...........

Last Month's Roundup

Shelter-in-place orders kept us on the farm for May which allowed us to knock out a whole list of infrastructure items.  We continued with Equine Therapy and some exciting American Mustang School plans for the coming months.  

Here's Justin and Sunshine recording some more great content for the membership group. 

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AMS Adventures - Here's What's Coming Up


Sunday, June 7 Packhorse Clinic


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American Mustang School Horse Spotlight

Name - Whiskey (mustang)

Age - 18


Favorite activity - He loves guiding trail rides, therapy sessions, and overnight pack trips.


Best adventure with Justin -  We spent 9 days in the mountains together. He saved my life on one of those days. We had climbed to the peak of a mountain on the Colorado New Mexico border. It was 12,500 feet high, and a sunny day. A storm blew in and it hailed, sleeted. snowed and got cold. We hunkered down in some trees while it passed through. It only lasted about 45 minutes. After it passed, the sun came out and melted everything really fast. The very steep dirt trail we had come up, had turned to slick mud. We slid down about a 60 foot section of trail, and were headed for the edge of a cliff that had about a 1,500 foot drop. Whiskey slid down, and with all four legs, grabbed for better ground to turn us away from the edge. I saw that he couldn't do it, so I jumped, and he was able to turn and not go over the edge. After we gathered ourselves, I lead him over to the edge, and we both looked down and out across the valley. I thanked him, and he just stood as noble as he always does.


Whiskey is special because -  He's a mustang.

He was considered "crazy". There is even a song about how crazy he was. It took me 14 days to touch him, and 60 days before he would quit bolting away. He did not want to be in captivity and will sometimes remind me that he was once a wild horse. He's proven to be my best teacher, and the best guide horse.


Horse Fun Facts

from Britannica.com

  1. The Lone Ranger’s Potawatomi sidekick, Tonto, had a horse named what?

  2. Which of the following famous racehorses does not have a movie made about its life? Ruffian, Secretariat, War Admiral, Seabiscuit

  3. What’s the name of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s best-known horse?

  4. The winged horse Pegasus belongs to the mythology of which culture?


Answers below...

Words to Ride By


"Where thoughts go, energy flows."  Justin Dunn


If you can think it, you can make it happen. Everything that I've truly wanted to do, happened and started with a thought.


Answers for Horse Fun Facts

from Britannica.com

  1. Scout

  2. War Admiral

  3. Traveller

  4. Greek

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