Celebrating the power of horses
Michelle Michaud is a strong believer in the power of horses. She grew up with the animals, and she has seen them bring people together, give confidence to people who lacked it and help people understand their path in life.
That power has been at the center of Can Do Cowgirl, the business Michaud has run for the past several years as a part-time job. It will be an even bigger part of her life now that she has bought Cornerstone Horse Center, a boarding and training facility in Empire Township.
“I just love horses. I love the bond you can have with horses,” said Michaud, who has been a barrel racer and competed at the international level in the working cow horse category. “It’s just become, really, a way of life.”
Can Do Cowgirl sells clothing and decals, but Michaud also holds mentorship events, mostly with young girls. By putting the girls together with horses and other mentors, she helps them build self confidence and think about what they want to accomplish in their lives.
The business has drawn attention from around the world. The Can Do Cowgirl Facebook page has more than 60,000 fans, and Michaud has heard story after story about the difference horses have made in people’s lives.
“It seems like every girl has a story,” Michaud said.
Michaud has also used horses in corporate team-building activities. Business groups come in and learn to throw a rope, or to connect with horses. Working with the animals helps people feel like they are part of something, she said.
Michaud used to have to rent an arena to hold her clinics. Now that she owns Cornerstone, which has its own riding arena, she expects to hold them much more often.
Michaud had been moving for a long time toward buying a facility like Cornerstone. She was already spending nearly all of the time she wasn’t at her day job working with horses.
The actual purchase was still a little unexpected, though.
Michaud was on Craigslist looking for hay and farm equipment when she saw the listing for Cornerstone.
Things moved quickly from there. Michaud officially took ownership on Oct. 29.
There have been challenges since then getting everything running just the way Michaud wants them. She lives in Albert Lea and still works her full-time job. She has a facility manager who lives on site, but she still spends a lot of time driving back and forth to make sure things are getting done.
“It has been a lot of work getting everything all in place,” she said. “I’m excited.”
In addition to the riding arena, Cornerstone offers boarding. There are stalls in the building and pastures in back. There are trails through the woods nearby. A building on the property processes horse manure so it can be picked up by a garden center.
Michaud has already planned Can Do Cowgirl mentorship events for Dec. 26 and Dec. 29. She is excited to get started.
“The sky is the limit,” she said. “I’m looking forward to people being here with smiles on their faces.”