Thursday, February 19, 2015

Turning a Passion Into a Penny

by Toni Leland

My love affair with horses goes way back, just like most of the horse-lovers in the world. The difference for me is that I was able to take that passion and use it to earn a living!

In the beginning, there were horses in my mind and on my walls and in every sentence I spoke. This is the plight of an 8-year-old horse-crazy girl. Eventually, I actually got a horse and that was even better. But the affliction is one that can get in the way of futures and plans that others (parents) have for you, and so, many years passed before I was able to return to my first love.

In the mid-eighties, I realized the dream of having my very own horse farm. Arabian Horses, to be exact. Of course, the mid-eighties was exactly the wrong time to be getting involved in Arabians, but hey, I was on a roll. Along the way, we acquired a beautiful Morgan Horse mare and expanded our breeding program.

Our first little filly,  Pizazza
Fourteen horses (several of the mares expecting babies) equates to a lot of feed, hay, horseshoeing, and veterinary services. Horses – even really good ones – don’t always earn their keep right away, and the prospect of those yearling sales was a long way off. Time to get a job, but I wanted to stay on the farm, so I began promoting my graphic design capabilities to horse farms and breeders. Soon, I was bringing in a modest salary designing commercial advertising and writing copy for stud services, horses for sale, farms for sale, and promotional pages in breed magazines. That work led to more work and, soon, I was spending less time in the barn. But the horses were eating well!

Fast-forward to the mid-nineties. Much as I loved them, raising horses wasn’t working for me, but serving the horse community was. My beautiful horses found wonderful homes, and I focused on building my business. I continued to write and design well into the New Millennium, and in 2002, I expanded my vistas and dipped my toe into the waters of creative writing. About horses, of course.

Now – eight novels later – I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. My first book, Winning Ways, was born of nostalgia for the horses I'd been privileged to own. The books that followed brought many issues into play, as well as creating human stories about the people who love horses. Yes, they are like anyone else – they fall in love, they have accidents, they lose loved ones, they follow the wrong path – but the common denominator is an undying love for that wonderful creature, the horse.
Eight and counting...


  1. Thanks, Toni, for sharing your life with horses, and how it translated into your novels. What a wealth of information you have to put into your writing, and I wasn't aware you had written so many. Very cool!

    1. Thanks, Linda. Seems like my entire life has revolved around these creatures in one way or another. :)