Business feature: Portales woman turns love of horses into business

By Thomas Garcia: PNT staff writer

Wendy Toombs has been sharing her love of horses by teaching people to ride for the last nine years.

“Working with horses, kids and the outdoors, it can’t get much better than this,” said Toombs, who with her husband operate Abrazos Adventure horse riding school in Roosevelt County.

Saddling up: Toombs said her life with horses began when she moved from Chicago to Santa Fe.

She said she found out there was a riding stable close to her parents’ home, and horses have been a part of her life ever since.

“The owner of that stable game me my first horse, Trinket. I was so gracious and thankful that he did that.”

How the West was fun: Toombs said that she moved to Portales in 1969 with her husband and children and began working at the hospital in the early 1970s.

Following the hospital’s closure in 1998, Toombs said she was faced with the hard question of what to do next.

“I was 50 at the time and dreaded going back to work in an office.”

She said that she talked with her husband Ray and decided that she was going to open a horse riding school.

“It seemed like the perfect idea. Work outdoors, interact with people, and help others to enjoy horses as much as I do.”

With three horses and a dream, Toombs said she embarked on a journey of discovery and growth.

Lessons learned along the way: Toombs said she tries to not only teach her clients how to ride a horse but to understand and interact with the animal.

“There is energy between a horse and rider. After many years of observing riders and horses interact, you can see the connection between the two.”

Toombs said while she offers guest rides on horses saddled and ready to go, her students are in for something entirely different.

“It is hands-on learning here. Before the ride they have to go out to the pen, catch their horse, groom it and saddle it.”

Safety first: She said all of her students must watch a mandatory safety video and wear safety equipment such as a helmet and boots, which she provides.

“I have collected a lot of boots and saddles over the years. If someone cannot afford to buy boots, I’m sure I have a pair their size.

More then just a ride: Toombs said an average of 100 people have attended her school each year since it has opened.

Her clientele is not just limited to first-time riders.

“I had a lady from New Zealand come here to learn how to ride Western style. She had years of experience but wanted to learn to ride bareback.”

She said that the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing a person change and grow emotionally while they ride.

“I feel that people take a lot away from these lessons even if they never ride a horse again. I have seen it build confidence and character for the rider.”

Information: Wendy Toombs at 356-8078.