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A young girl leading her horse with help from her teacher

Tragedy and Triumph at Westfork Horse Ranch

I heard from a fellow FarmHer that Amy Heitland was a woman I needed to meet.  She was right.  Amy owns and operates Westfork Horse Ranch in Sheffield, Iowa, where, as she put it, they do all things horse.  From boarding and training, to breeding, buying, selling and riding, she does it all.  

Amy grew up riding horses and that love has carried through her life. 

Amy Heitland grooming her horses at her farm Westfork Ranch

Building a Horse Ranch

Now let’s rewind about 17 years, to 2005.  Amy and her then fiancé, Tom, were working jobs in town and saving ,only to build the horse barn of their dreams.  They had purchased a farm and were operating out of an old brick barn that was already there, but they had plans. 

They worked and saved, buying what they needed piece by piece.  Finally they had saved enough to make a real go of it.  The day after they signed off on plans to build the new facility, Tom found out he had cancer. 

Tragedy Strikes

Amy wanted to cancel the building plans but Tom had other ideas and they went ahead with the building, even making it slightly bigger than planned.  Just four months later, as the barn structure was complete, Tom passed away. Amy and her sons were left heartbroken.  It took her almost a year to get on her feet, and since she did, she hasn’t stopped.  

Woman cleaning stalls at a horse ranch

On the day I visited Westfork Ranch, I was greeted by friendly working dogs, Amy and a lot of horses.  They had a busy day of lessons. Followed by the usual business and getting ready to haul horses to Billings, Montana early the next morning.  First up for Amy was working with Tori. Tori is a young woman who has a mule and was working with her animal and Amy on riding. 

Fun side note: Amy helped Tori prepare for and compete in the Cowgirl Queen contest at the Iowa State Fair. Another way she is spreading her love of showing to another generation of you women!  

Helping the Future Generations of Horse Loving Girls

Next up Amy and her son took videos of the horses that were heading to the sale the next day.  The videos showcase the horse to potential buyers before the sale. From there it was out into the stalls. There we checked on the leg of a horse that had gotten injured and a quick visit with the vet.  She stopped on her way back in to clean out a stall before helping her granddaughter, Kinsley, who is just three, get saddled up for her lesson.  The little girl is clearly the light of her grandma’s eyes.  She used to be afraid of horses but has recently gotten more excited about learning to ride. Under the watchful eye of her grandmother of course!  

Young girl with pink cowgirl hat riding a horse during her horseback riding lesson

As I watched Amy work with a passion and drive that only comes from loving what you do, I couldn’t help but think that even though her path here was a tough one, she is right where she is supposed to be.  Working with the horses she loves, spending time with her family, sharing that love with them. And of course, spreading her passion to the next generation. 

Catch Amy’s full episode right here.

Young girl with pink cowgirl hat on at a horse ranch

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