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Enterprising Equestrian Turns Creative Outlet into Side Hustle During Times of COVID-19

Filed under: Featured,The Buzz |     

By: Brittany Bevis

COVID-19 has dramatically affected the way Americans go about their daily lives. Small businesses have been hit especially hard and many have decided to furlough or let go of employees, who have families to support and bills to pay. The horse industry is no exception, because most horse trainers, veterinarians, and breeding managers are self-employed.

When it became apparent that the pandemic was going to take a toll on business at John Zeldenthuis and Brian Henry’s Limelite Show Horses in Colorado, John had an idea to use his creative hobby to help supplement their income.

“I’ve always loved to refurbish old furniture and grew up doing it with my mom,” John says. “I learned so much from her when it came to refurbishing old pieces and creating something new to be enjoyed again. When COIVD-19 hit, it hit us hard. We had several clients who had to take their horses home without notice, and that was no one’s fault! Unfortunately, paying for their mortgages and putting food on their families’ tables was more of a necessity than keeping a horse in training. We couldn’t blame them at all and completely understood why they had to take them home.”

“But, we also had all of our show calendars filled out and were counting on those shows for income. I decided that since we were down on the number of horses we had in the barn, I would take my free time and try to supplement the income we were losing.”

John began by repurposing antique furniture and selling the pieces on social media. The items sold quickly, but people were also interested in the floral arrangements and decor that he was staging the items with. So, he came up with the idea to use polished steer horns to create one-of-a-kind floral arrangements that he would then sell under the title- J Customs.

“I was raised on a cattle ranch in western Colorado, so my love for the rustic Western styles started at a young age. Western decor will always feel like home to me. I decided to take a chance and start with a few pairs of steer horns that were polished and mounted them and just started putting together these arrangements with no idea of how they would turn out. I finished the first one, posted it as available on my Facebook page, and it sold immediately, in less than five minutes. I was in shock!”

“I was kind of thinking that it be a fluke deal. So, I made three more that weekend and posted them all at once. Again, all three of them sold within the first hour. Plus, I started getting custom orders that same night!”

Most of the people who purchase John’s floral arrangements are in the horse, rodeo, and livestock communities. However, he’s also had great luck within the ski towns in Colorado. “My family raises fallow deer and mule deer, so I’m able to get antlers from our ranch for those arrangements, which have been a huge success in some of these trendy ski towns. I have been so busy with the arrangements that I cannot keep up with the demand for them!”

“I definitely love making them, and each one is handmade right here in the USA. They’re all custom to people’s homes, condos, and ski villas! This has been a really neat venture for me. I never imagined this is what I would be doing, but I can sure say that I’m loving it, and I plan to continue making them and expanding.”

If you have a great story to share about a topic within the horse industry, email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com for consideration.

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