Small Business Spotlight: Zoe Woodland Performance Horses
Zoe Woodland doesn’t recall a life without horses. That’s because her life has revolved around them since she was just a small child hanging out at her dad’s stables. Today, she is all grown up and making a living competing and giving others a chance to love them as much as she does.
Zoe Woodland Performance Horses specializes in training horses and riders through lessons, camps, clinics and more. Luckily for everyone around her, it’s clearly more than a business for the 30-year old – it’s a passion and a way of life. “Sometimes I’m out here from 5:30 in the morning till well past dark. They need me and I just love it.”
Zoe’s devotion to horses began as a young child when her dad moved the family to this Orient, Ohio property and started the business to support his own passion. She was helping to run the business by the time she was seventeen and, in recent years, was able to buy and begin growing the operation.
Her true personal passion lies in training and showing cutting horses. A cutting horse is a stock horse that’s bred and trained for cutting. This requires a horse and rider to work together to isolate a single cow from the herd and prevent it from returning to the herd. These horses require speed, intelligence and an ability to make quick turns, starts and stops.
She has enjoyed a successful career in cutting and has taken students to these competitions too. “A lot of people come expecting to ride casually. They get comfortable and go on to cutting, just to try it out. Before they know it, they’re really good and really competitive.”
Zoe’s work in cutting actually makes her business unique as there is no one else in the area offering this kind of training.
They also have 55 horses here. Some are just boarded here by owners who can’t keep them at home. Others belong to the business and are here for showing, training or even for lease. The benefit of leasing is that it allows someone that wants to ride the opportunity even before they are ready to commit to owning.
Their training program accommodates everything from problem horses to two-year-old show horses that are learning from scratch. Plus, the lesson program brings in about 150 students at any given time. “This is a big thing for us and I’m lucky to have a few really good assistants that can keep up with all the demand for lessons.”
Their current youngest student is just two years old and comes for what Zoe calls “basically a thirty-minute pony ride.” Their oldest is an octogenarian who began coming around because she loves horses. The woman had never competed before and thought she was too old to follow her dream and compete in barrel racing. Zoe convinced her it wasn’t too late and, while she didn’t win, she did make it to a barrel racing competition!
Zoe said that summer is their very best season as the kids are out of school and many will hang out simply to be around the horses. “It’s fun watching them grow up here and to see their love for it. We get sad when school starts and the kids are gone,” she said. “They help with chores, learn some responsibility, learn to care for the horses the way we want things done. It’s pretty special.”
Zoe takes tremendous pride in the care given to every horse. That’s why they offer full care board provided by people who truly love the horses. They grow and bale their own hay so they know exactly where it comes from. Large indoor and outdoor arenas and plenty of turnout space means lots of room for all the activities that come with this busy operation.
“We are blessed with a lot of good horses and plenty of assistants who love the horses as much as anyone.”
Why would someone want to ride at Zoe Woodland Performance Horses? “It’s a great way to improve your mental health. When you can escape reality and just come be with the horses, it’s a different mindset. It’s a healthier mindset,” she said. “We have a great group of people here so a lot of people come for the horses but the people become like family,” she said.
To see pictures, find rates and learn about Zoe’s professional cutting career, visit Zoe Woodland Performance Horses online or follow them on Facebook.