SALEM -- Carol Armstrong fondly recalls her childhood spent around horses.
She got her first horse at 11. When she was 15, she found herself going to horse auctions in Elkton. She bought ponies for about $10 and occasionally would resell them.
By the time she was in her early 20s, Armstrong was buying many ponies and horses in Glenmoor, and eventually she sold up to 100 animals a year.
Later, she started a business giving pony rides and also spent several years buying horses at horse shows around Ohio and other states, driving up to 50,000 miles a year.
In 1991, she and her husband, Steve, ran a tack shop in West Point, with her mother managing the shop.
About nine years ago Armstrong and her husband decided to relocate, and they bought C & amp;J Stables, just outside Salem.
When they first bought the 20-acre property in 1994, it was a cow farm. Shortly afterward, Armstrong and her husband "had everything built at once," including a tack shop, eight lots to keep various breeds of horses, heated indoor riding arena, lighted outdoor riding arena, corral, and a play area for kids.
Armstrong and her five part-time and four full-time employees perform numerous functions, such as running the tack shop, giving riding lessons and preparing for two horse auctions each year that can draw more than 1,000 people. Barrel racing, in which the rider goes in a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels, also takes place.
A large part of her business is buying and selling horses, and each horse is sold with a guarantee.
"We always have new [horses] coming in," she said. "We want to make sure the person and horse are matched for each other."
Armstrong added that her business also features a program in which families can lease horses and ponies by the month. The animals are kept at the facility. The cost includes use of the arenas, housing and care for the animal and necessary tack, she said.
The tack shop sells casual and western wear, blacksmith supplies and about 200 types of horse saddles. People also can view a large collection of antique saddles displayed around the shop. Various shampoos and vitamins for the animals' care are also available, she said.
Armstrong's husband sells horse trailers and takes tack items to auctions to sell at horse shows.
Armstrong recently expanded her operations by buying a nearby 12-acre farm complemented by woods and several extended riding trails. People can use the trails for lessons and can learn proper ways to saddle, mount and handle a horse.
"We're trying to educate the public on how to take care of horses, & quot; Armstrong said.