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Horse lover finds her calling in Falcon

Falcon Creek Farm sits back off Falcon Highway, east of Blaney Road, and a driver flying by at 55 mph could easily miss the sign that reads, “Boarding, Lessons, Training.” But the 40-acre farm with the small gray house and the old brick silo towering above the barn is the culmination of one woman’s dream of owning a horse business.Leslie Laing and her husband, Stuart, bought Falcon Creek in December 2002 after looking at several properties in the Falcon and Black Forest areas. The picturesque property has two barns, an older barn with a brick silo, built near the turn of the century, and a newer 15-stall barn that sits behind it. The property also has a large riding arena and a rolling pasture with two small ponds (in which Leslie and some of the boarders have been known to take the horses for a swim).Laing uses the older barn to store hay and farm equipment, while the newer barn houses the boarders’ horses.Laing has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in business administration, and, for several years, she worked for an environmental laboratory in her native Illinois. She grew frustrated with the paperwork and regulations and left the corporate world to become a Realtor. She and her husband began investing in real estate, and she said, “I figured if we were going to keep investing, I might as well make some money at it.”Laing has ridden horses since she was little. She spent considerable time on the show circuit competing in both Western and English events. “I’ve been a professional boarder my whole life,” she said. “I was always trying to give lessons and do training, but it’s very difficult to do at other people’s places. That’s something I really wanted to do and have a passion for.” Laing and her husband started looking into buying land.Laing’s father was in the military, and they had lived in Colorado Springs when she was a child. She learned to ride at the Air Force Academy. “I’d been all over the world and decided that this was where I wanted to be,” she said. “Colorado is my favorite place.” So, the Laings headed to Colorado Springs and found their future home in Falcon.After buying the property in 2002, Laing began learning about running a business that involved horse boarding, training and instruction. “It hasn’t been that hard,” she said. “The big thing I had to learn was how to cultivate clients and how to market.”She started making connections in the community by joining the Colorado Horse Council, setting up a Web site and volunteering as a judge for the Black Forest Saddle Club and Kit Carson 4-H. During her first year, she also provided a foster home for several horses rescued by Front Range Equine Rescue. “The Internet has been a great source for me, much to my surprise,” she said. “But now most of my boarders come by word-of-mouth.”Laing believes that one of the biggest attractions to boarders is the physical beauty of her property. “The ponds make it very scenic,” she said. “And all the wildlife out here is an attraction.”However, she concentrates on providing services to her boarders to help them with their horses. “A lot of my boarders are looking for assistance and guidance. They rely on me to help them through tough spots or answer questions on health care, training, riding, feeding — the whole gamut.” She keeps records on each horse and notifies the owner when his or her horse needs worming or farrier care. “I try to keep on top of each horse as an individual,” she said. “When you get to know these horses and what they’re like, you can tell when something is wrong and can call the owner.”Laing has made numerous improvements on the property, including putting up gates, taking down barbed wire, installing an electric fence around the entire pasture, replacing old loafing sheds and the panels of the runs attached to each stall. She also bought a disk harrow to keep the arena dragged to ensure that the footing is safe for the horses. Plans for the future include installing automatic water troughs and adding shelters in the pasture.Laing also puts considerable effort into improving her teaching and training skills. In the summer 2004, she obtained her instructor certification from the Certified Horsemanship Association, and she continues to attend clinics, seminars and expos to expand her knowledge. This summer she will be conducting a clinic at Falcon Creek on evaluating equine conformation, temperament and behavior and monitoring vital signs. She will also attend training to become a 4-H levels rater, evaluating 4-H youth on their riding ability.In spite of all the hard work, Laing feels that she’s found her calling in Falcon. “In any horse business, you have to do it because you love it,” Laing said. “My favorite part is knowing that I’ve had a really good lesson with someone or helped someone with a problem they’re having with their horse. That really makes it all worth it!”Falcon Creek Farm, 13025 Falcon Highway, 439-6605, boarding@falconcreekfarm.com, www.falconcreekfarm.com.

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