By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
Wendy Toombs of Roosevelt County has gone from a child insisting on pony rides to a woman who finds peace and challenge working with horses.
The horseback riding instructor recently earned a denim jacket for logging 750 hours in the saddle of a registered quarter horse over several years with the American Quarter Horse Association Horseback Riding Program. Toombs works with other types of horses as well.
“There is a peacefulness I get being with them, even if you’re working out problems with them,” she said. “There’s a challenge being with them.”
Working at her riding school, Abrazos Adventure, has tuned her into life and people, Toombs said.
Even as a child, she liked horses. Toombs received her first horse at age 9 after moving to Portales.
In 1999, after 23 years working in human resources at the old Roosevelt General Hospital, she and her husband, Ray, started Abrazos Adventure with three horses.
Now, she has 22 horses and ponies, as well as students of all ages.
The Toombs’ son, Dan, helps with the business.
Toombs said she has seen students gain confidence, learn to contain their energy, come to control their attitudes and more while working with the horses.
Toombs teaches her students not to “show the horse who’s boss” but to exhibit leadership.
“Present yourself in a manner the horse is going to respect you and feel comfortable with you,” she said, adding that leading people is much the same.
Olga Meza’s son took lessons with Toombs last summer.
“It was a great experience for him,” Meza said. “It was actually like therapy for him.”
Toombs said her students have taught her about life and people, and she has learned from the horses as well. Her horse-taught lessons include patience, doing things over until they’re right, not losing her temper and communicating by watching body language.
Toombs’ days involve tasks such as creating materials on the computer, feeding, checking on horses several times, giving lessons and training and riding on her own.
There is no typical day, and she checks in with “the Guy Upstairs” to find out what each one will hold, Toombs said.
Throughout her life, Toombs said, her interaction with horses has evolved.
“It was more about me prior to the school,” she said.
Now, Toombs focuses on the horses and where they’re coming from, and has a positive relationship with each one, she said.
“What I’ve learned can be taught, I’m finding,” Toombs said, explaining that she shares her new perspective so others learn it sooner than she did.