Many horse owners have experienced the heartbreak of sadly watching their “horse heaven” become a tiny island surrounded with McMansions and their favorite trails being blocked by urban sprawl. As more and more prime equestrian land becomes strip malls and housing developments and bridle trails become parking lots, the remaining horse properties become isolated, separated, and scattered. The once-strong sense of community among horse-farm owners is easily lost.
Private equestrian communities are one way of enjoying the benefits of living in a neighborhood with fellow equestrians and equine amenities. These communities range from beach and golf resort-style properties that include horse facilities to large, conserved acreage solely dedicated to horses. Often the open land, pastures, trail systems, barns, arena, and facilities staff are shared among the homeowners.
It’s often said that equestrian-community buyers are not only buying a home, they’re buying a lifestyle. It’s not unusual to see owners pick up their children on horseback.
Below, some equestrians talk about their decisions.
A Blue Ridge Mountain Home
In 2000, the Teller family was living on Cape Cod. John Teller recalls, “Building was taking off at an unprecedented level. What used to be horse trails for Karen and her horse, Allegro, became housing projects and shopping centers. We knew that it was time for us to make a change. Karen had a strong interest in Western North Carolina, so we went there and made an appointment with a real estate broker. By noon the first day we had seen enough of the area and asked if there wasn’t a place where we could bring the horse and do some riding. At the time Bald Rock was just getting under way, so we made a visit. Before the day ended we found a building lot that we liked and made an offer. That was August of 2000, and we have never looked back. We picked a builder and moved in 2001.”
Bald Rock began back in 1995. Dave Bauer of Westmark Development Corporation dreamed of a community that would become the “gem of the Blue Ridge Mountains.” He spent months hiking through the forest to develop what has become Bald Rock and claims to have worn out two pairs of hiking boots, a Jeep, and a mule. It is this location sets Bald Rock apart from other area communities. Being located on the approximately 4,000-foot high ridgeline of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the weather is great year round with very cool summers.
The Tellers add, “Our time at Bald Rock has been a wonderful experience. We came to know most of the folks in Bald Rock, but we could also escape to the serenity and privacy of our own home. It’s a great balance! Our generation, and my parents are moving here and building a house because they fit right in, too. There really is something for everyone, and we’ve met so many wonderful fast friends.
Bluegrass Horse Country
Shelby County, Ky., the Sadddlebred capital of the world, located between Lexington and Louisville, is home to 934-acre Equestrian Lakes. The highly restricted community offers homes ranging in size from a minimum of 3,500 square feet in Phase I to a minimum of 2,500 square feet in Equestrian Lakes North. Home sites average 5 to 17 acres. There are over eight miles of fenced riding/hiking trails that wind through woods, creek bottoms, and along lake shores. There is a scenic 15-acre lake with a jogging/walking path (lighted for evening strolls). Fishermen’s angling abilities are tested on the four abundantly stocked lakes.
Facilities for the horse enthusiast include a state-of-the-art grand prix covered indoor arena, outdoor arena, and full-care barn facility. Full-care means that residents can choose to relax after a ride and stable their horses without the work. They can sharpen their skills at one of the many riding clinics offered, and the professional staff are there to assist.
Melanie Bergdorf and her family feel like they made the right choice. “When we relocated to Kentucky,” she says, “we began our search for a new home online. Our dream was to be in an equestrian community without feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere. Our search brought us to Equestrian Lakes, and we never looked any further. We have access to everything Louisville and Lexington have to offer, while enjoying life in the country. We feel very blessed to live somewhere that is so beautiful and has so much to offer for an outdoor lifestyle.”