Horses, Real Estate and Family Make an Abundant Life
Allison Trimble Paparoa has been a longtime contributor to the Northwest Horse Source. Her column, Willfully Guided, has covered such varied subjects as horse training, breeding, parenting, real estate, building codes, and water rights. Her unique voice and outlook on life is a valued asset to our magazine.
Why the real estate business? I grew up in it. Coastal Realty is my parents’ brokerage on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska where I was raised. Real estate put me through college (thanks to my parents) and funded most of my horse training career (to be quite frank). I always assumed it’s what I would do after college, and then I went on about a 15-year tangent into the cow horse industry. Coastal Realty is owned in cooperation with my parents. We are, and always have been, a family operation.
What do you like most about the real estate business? Is there a downside? It can be complicated and hard – and I love those things the best! Real estate requires a high capacity for problem solving, something I find similar to horse training. I have never been a person who chooses the easy path… clearly. I really enjoy my relationships with our clients. I also enjoy that financially you get back what you put in. I did a lot of working for free as a horse trainer – that’s hard on a family.
Downside? Stress and time away from my family. I care tremendously about my clients and this is likely one of the most important transactions in their life. I don’t always do a good job of setting that stress down.
Do you miss being a pro trainer? I do. When Down the Fence came out, it took me a while to watch it. I wasn’t ready when I made the change, but it was necessary; my family needed me both physically and financially. My ego still struggles with not being relevant or a part of a world that for so many years was everything to me.
I was pretty unfulfilled in a lot of ways though, and one day I asked myself, if you won the most esteemed award the cow horse industry had to offer, but never had a family, would it be worth it? My answer was a quick no. I always yearned for a family. Now, I am blessed to be able to afford to keep my heart horses, and dabble here and there.
Do you still raise some foals? We have a yearling this year, and I still breed some. We have two stallions: Cow Cuttin Colonel (Joey) and Cue Bars Laddie. Laddie is 22 this year and is slated to be gelded so he can retire with buddies and not have to deal with the hormones of breeding season. I have a 4-year-old colt, Coastal Seahawk – a blue roan by Joey and out of a Laddie daughter. We really enjoy him and plan to breed him to some of our mares in the next few years. We do intend to breed and sell babies in the years to come.
What did you love most about being in the horse business? I loved the horses. The process. The challenge to improve. The fact that there is always more to learn.
What did you like least about being in the horse business? Being broke. The cash flow is crazy high, and very little stays with you as the trainer. Losing horses. Working hard to be knowledgeable, experienced and competent only to have clients go somewhere else because it was cheaper.
Favorite horse? Bayleen was my unicorn of 35 years, and I am not sure that any horse could ever compare. When I made the change to real estate, I had 30 horses in the barn I owned. I made a list. There were 12 horses that I would have to be destitute before I would trust their care to anyone else. They carried me through my career. Of the 12 horses on that list, 10 are still alive and with me. The rest had to go quickly to support the care of the others while I shifted careers. Playboy and Joey probably have special importance to me. They both contributed significantly to my showing success.
How do you find the time to ride? Now? *snort* the short answer is I don’t really. If it is nice out, and my kids aren’t already riding, or are napping, I try and sneak it in. I am on the executive board of the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, and am very involved in helping to protect private property rights and the farming and ranching lifestyles, so my time is even more limited than last year. I clean 15 stalls, four days a week before work in the wee hours of the morning, and I feed and do barn chores every day. I really enjoy the husbandry aspect as a stress reliever. I’m trying hard to be okay with the fact that I can’t do it all right now.
What are your goals for your business? For horses? My goal for the business is to grow our brokerage so our clients, brokers, and my family are secure. My hope is to create a business that makes my parents proud and allows me to give back to them in appreciation for all the years they tirelessly supported me in the horse industry.
As far as horses, we bought 60 acres and are building our dream home. The five-year plan is to finally have an indoor arena and enough pastureland to watch our mares and babies run in the fields. Other than that, I am working at letting it unfold as the path presents itself. Personally, I like to travel and spend time with my husband, Lee, and children Hope and Khari.