It's said that money can't buy the wag of a good dog's tail. The sentiment about the human-animal bond also holds true for equines, and, with the right luck and circumstances you may not even need money to buy a good pony, tail and all.
co-owner and horse trader Amy Conway bartered a trio of miniature animals for a red roan quarter pony, Buddy, a couple years back.
"I agreed to trade my miniature goat, sheep and donkey for a sight-unseen pony because it was important to keep the three miniatures together," Conway shares, "I got a great deal. Buddy has a gentle, calm temperament. He's great for what we do here."
What Dunwoody native Conway and her co-owner husband, Sean, do at the three-plus acre horse farm is teach English riding and horse care to youths and adults and offer opportunities for the public to experience the love of horses from Buddy and nine other horses and ponies that live on the property.
Grandfathered zoning permits the Conway family to live where they work, a small horse farm that is located a mere eighth of a mile north of the intersection of Johnson Ferry and Roswell Roads, the heart of the commercial corridor of East Cobb.
The business employs subcontractors and thrives because of the sweat equity of six dedicated volunteers.
Q. What's the best thing about your job?
A. Watching horses change people. We had a group of women from a battered women's' shelter come here. A woman from the group had never been around horses and was afraid of them. She stepped toward the horse and said that she was tired of being scared then got up in the saddle. The horse and woman just stayed in place. Didn't even walk anywhere. The woman got down and jumped with excitement. She found new self confidence. Everyone had tears in their eyes and she announced to the group that she was leaving them; she was going to be OK on her own. It was emotional. There's something about the size and strength of horses and their ability to trust and empathize that touches people.
Q. What is the best thing about East Cobb?
A. The schools are phenomenal. I like our location because we're in the middle of Roswell, Sandy Springs and Buckhead and we can take back roads to get to other communities. There are many privately owned businesses around here. It seems like other communities have more big box retail and corporate owned businesses than East Cobb.
Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?
A. Every little girl has a dream. I've had horses since I was four. My mother was my influence.
Q. Why did you choose to open your business in East Cobb?
A. I was in the mortgage business writing loans for rehab properties when I met my husband, who was buying and selling real estate. He found this place when it had been vacant for a year. My husband also grew up around horses near Chicago, so, we bought this place and then got married.
Q. What are some of the services you offer that people may not know about?
A. We have pony pals for three to four year-olds. They love it. They get to groom the animals. We teach Hunter Jumper to youth and adults. We have birthday parties, we lease horses. We offer boarding, we have a miniature pig here that belongs to a four year-old boy who is unable to keep the pig at home. We also offer equine therapy to a diverse range of people with special needs.
Q. When did you start your business?
A. 2001. We bought the business from the original owner's estate. The stables were founded in 1959. Leaving the corporate world and starting this business was the best thing I could've done.
Q. How did your business get started?
A. At first we only boarded horses then we realized that we wanted to do more; so, we stopped focusing on boarding and started teaching riding and horse care, and facilitating equine therapy.
Q. Do you have advice for anyone who'd like to start a small business in this area?
A. Do your homework. It takes a lot of dedication. There has to be a demand for what you do, and you have to market your services or products. Word-of-mouth is the best advertising. Good words from people you know are valuable, anonymous reviews from places on the internet are not.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?
A. We've got ready to use horse manure for your plants. It's good stuff. My nine year-old son, Dallas, came up the idea to sell the manure. My husband helps him mulch it up and prepare it for bagging. Our sign by the road tells it all, "we're number one in the number two business." You've got to have a sense of humor.
Amy and Sean Conway, owners
East Cobb Stables
1649 Johnson Ferry Rd.