Olympic show jumper PETER LEONE recently added another treasure to his trove of equestrian brilliance—a vintage estate nestled in the cozy hamlet of Katonah, New York. Together with his fiancée, BJ EHRHARDT, these two lifelong horse lovers have transformed the historic homestead into a sanctuary that effortlessly bridges their lives together.

Peter Leone is a household name in equestrian showjumping. He helped lead Team USA to a silver medal in the team showjumping competition at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Peter has competed all over the world with numerous achievements on the European circuit, as well as championships back home including the Wellington Equestrian Festival, the American Gold Cup, and the Devon Horse Show. Peter’s Lionshare Farm, based in Bedford, New York, boasts numerous A-list clients and recently opened a brand new private facility in Wellington. In 2022, Peter was one of the first trainers to leverage virtual reality as a training platform, keeping his business on the cutting edge of showjumping instruction. He continues to compete at the highest level, including a recent victory in the Grand Prix at CSI Bromont at age 63.

BJ Ehrhardt is a professional equestrian in her own right. She owns Foxhedge Farm, LLC, based in Katonah, New York, and Wellington, Florida. In addition to managing her world-class farm, BJ’s professional riding resume includes success in the hunter and jumper rings at all levels including Grand Prix. She is also known for her numerous sidesaddle championships at the National Horse Show, Harrisburg, Devon, and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. Most recently, BJ has competed in the ribbons at CSI Miami.

These two powerhouse talents originally met while competing as children in the pony hunters at shows all across New Jersey. Their parents were friends, and the two families saw each other often. Peter and BJ went on to have separate successful careers and families of their own.

Years later, life and horses brought BJ and Peter together again. One pivotal day in Wellington in 2019 sparked a newfound romance between the two. “Thanks to a January rain day at WEF, I had a free afternoon and asked BJ out to lunch.” Says Peter, “We have been together ever since.” It was a love story decades in the making, as the pair had always kept tabs on one another since their childhood friendship. Peter eventually sold his Florida condo and moved in with BJ at her farm. Soon, they started farm-shopping together; the pair’s competitors-to-friends-to-lovers journey is fit for a storybook, and they needed a farm to match.

“Like our instant connection and attraction to each other in 2019, the 100-year-old French Country house and old-style quaint barn, was the only home we looked at—it was only a matter of negotiating the purchase,” Peter says. “The privacy, the lay of the land, the old world home, and the quaint country barn was everything we dreamed of.”

To help transform their new property into a blended family home, Peter enlisted the help of long- time friend and designer M. Douglas “Dougie” Mutch of Gracie Street Interior Design Studio & Boutique (West Palm Beach, Florida). Gracie Street previously designed Peter’s Greenwich home, captured in Equestrian Living’s “At Home with Peter Leone” February/March 2020 edition. While the design of Peter’s charming cottage was a love letter to his storied career and family relics, the layout of Peter and BJ’s new Katonah home effortlessly blends two family aesthetics together to create the dynamic, shared home of a couple deeply in love.

“The property itself is so charming and is set up so well for Peter, BJ, and their collective family to spend time together.” Says Dougie. “It needed quite a bit of work as any older home would, but the charm and size was perfect for these two at this phase of their lives. The attached office, the home, the barn, and the guesthouse were all pretty much in move-in condition from a design point of view. We were charged with the task of blending the best of what each had in their existing homes.”

While Gracie Street already had a concise inventory of Peter’s belongings after his Greenwich cottage makeover, a trip to BJ’s family farm and home was needed to do the same with her belongings. Dougie, along with her associate, Sally Chase, set out to document what she owned and learn about her family history.

Then, the team returned to Florida to create a design plan. With photos and written documentation of all Peter and BJ owned, the designers set out to draw the house to scale, organize, and sort all their belongings, and plan each room using the dimensions allowable and style that would meld with each piece.

Above clockwise: 1. Dougie Mutch of Gracie Street Interior Design. 2. Peter’s cottage in Greenwhich, CT. 3. BJ’s home in Goshen, NY. 4. Gracie Street created a 68-page inventory of items to move. 5. The designers drew the home to scale and planned which items would go in each room.

Peter shares, “Having worked with Dougie on two of my residences before, I had full confidence she could do the amazing–combine the treasured possessions and history of two different people and create a wonderful warm home that literally resulted in one that feels like we have lived together for all our adult life. [There were] many good laughs
and “oops” along the way but Dougie’s genius, vision, and feel for her job got us through.”

The result is a sophisticated space that seamlessly merges the lives of two top equestrian competitors into an interior that looks to have been there as long as the home itself. Dougie says, “Many of the furnishings [are] used in a totally different fashion than used in their former locations. We love utilizing items that clients already own as we tend to make everything new again!”

In what Gracie Street calls “long-distance design,” their team curated and numbered documents for Peter and BJ indicating what would be picked up from their existing homes and farms. The lists indicated which room or location each piece was to be retrieved, the item number on the plan, and its new location in the new home. “We make this design process literally ‘paint by numbers’ so that we do not have to be on-site for anything until our installation days; also saving the client’s quite a bit.” Says Dougie.

Once the design team completed the initial staging, they created and suggested a design plan of a future “wish list” of all that Peter and BJ could do to tie a large bow around the property and its design. This gave the couple an idea of what they could do on their own, moving forward on their own timeline or with Gracie Street assisting as needed.

Peter and BJ can now relax and enjoy their private paradise, with their horses right in the backyard. As the pair continue to dominate the show ring and train clients of all levels, they have the perfect space to escape into a world all their own. Whether it’s greeting guests at the resplendent double front doors or sitting back to enjoy a cup of tea in a bespoke wingback chair, the Leone/Ehrhardt residence is a capstone to the couple’s new life together.

Perhaps the Katonah property will be the perfect backdrop for Peter and BJ’s future wedding bells. Peter says, “Right now we are having too much fun being engaged. I know we will marry someday and when we do it will be magical.”

To see more amazing equestrian homes and farms, visit EQ Living’s Home and Barn Visits. To learn more Gracie Street Design visit their website. For more information about Peter Leone visit the Lionshare Farm website and to learn more about BJ’s Foxhedge Farm visit her website.