The Smoke Detector: An Equestrian in the Profession

By Chaleise Fleming posted 26 days ago


In my last blog post, I talked about a topic that has always been interesting to me: identify theft and fraud. Now I am going to dive into something that has always held a special place in my heart and highlight the ways it has shaped and continues to shape my life and professional growth.

I have quite a few hobbies. Ask anyone in my office and they will likely list off many random things I do in my spare time (which I have little of) including gaming, cosplaying, crafting, etc. But the one thing that probably stands out the most – well, besides my cosplaying - is my passion and sport: horses and riding. I have been riding horses since I was five years old, have always had a horse of my own since I was eight, and have taught riding lessons myself since I was 14. What can I say, the “barn” always call me back!

Chaleise_-_Equestrian.jpgHorses and riding have had a major impact on my life and who I am today, including my decision to become a CPA.

While I was growing up, my parents had their own horse boarding stable. Through this I saw firsthand the bookkeeping and processes of a business, including some of the struggles of balancing cash flow and bills. I also got to experience the process of marketing yourself and your business to attract new clients and revenue. I started teaching riding lessons and training horses within the business to help it grow. The inner workings of it fascinated me, especially the numbers part of it. This in turn triggered my interest in becoming a CPA and helping other small businesses, like my parents’, grow and succeed.

In teaching riding lessons, I had to be confident working with kids as young as three years old, all the way up. I learned how to adjust my communication to different learning styles and maturity levels. Fifteen-year-old me often instructed a novice rider three times my age. This took confidence, maturity, and adaptability. All of which helped me in my first years out of college as a brand-new CPA and continues to help me. I am a younger millennial CPA (yes one of those people). I still have a lot to learn. But, I can also provide great service to my clients.

These experiences have helped with my communication skills within the office and my ability to teach staff members. A riding student will never get better unless given feedback and told what is being done wrong and how to fix it. The same applies to learning how to prepare a tax return or run payroll. So much of my current communication and confidence was developed over my years of teaching lessons and riding.

Horses and riding also have taught me humility, teamwork, responsibility, and patience. Even competing individually, I see the value of all my fellow riders and the help and support they have given me along the way. It takes tremendous responsibility to care for and train a horse. When you start riding, you can’t immediately do it all or jump five feet. You can’t push a horse or rider too fast. We all advance and grow at our own pace and there is nothing wrong with that—learn to enjoy the ride and the adventure. I’m still learning and improving every day, not just with my riding, but in my profession too. I try to embrace new challenges and never be discouraged when I struggle with a concept.

The list could go on and on. Riding is one of my de-stressors during tax season or a hard day. It’s one of my main motivators to stay fit and healthy. Supporting local equestrian organizations and riders has also driven many of my civic and volunteering activities and has inspired me to get involved in non-horse civic boards as well. This in turn has resulted in my interest in developing a specialty in non-for-profit in my profession. Not to mention, riding and horses create a unique conversation topic for networking and meeting new clients.

Yes, riding is my hobby. But it has had a tremendous impact on who I am today, both personally and professionally. I continually find myself pulling from all I have learned in riding and from horses and tying it into my work as a CPA and with clients.

So, I am curious. Does anyone else have a sport, hobby, or passion that drives them and has helped shape their lives? You may be surprised that by just thinking about it a little, you can start to identify aspects that have impacted your profession. I’d love to hear from you about it!

1 comment



19 days ago

I have a little business on the side, but it came later in my career, after I took two years off to move to China for my husbands job. I came back with lots of pearls and learned how to make jewelry. Now I do mostly fused glass and precious metal clay jewelry. I sell at art shows and online.  I learned a lot about sales and customer service, which I can apply to my main job. I also learned a lot about the business of being an artist. Someday maybe I will write a business guide for artists. My business is called Shanghai Tai LLC.