When it comes to equestrian estates, property owners are passionate owners. Where they live and how they live is all about living to ride.
“The best word I can come up with is completeness,” says Bridget Brandon, a farm and equine consultant who owns a 15-acre equestrian property in the Fort Worth, Texas, suburb of Argyle. Brandon, a former competitive jumper and now recreational rider, has four of her own horses and boards eight retired show horses on her land. She says that feeling of completeness is the culmination of skill, confidence in the saddle, and synergy with the horse that all comes together for a perfect ride.
It’s a lifestyle that’s challenging, expensive, demanding, dirty, and, most of all, rewarding. Owners are all in. They like having control over the way their property is run, how their horses are cared for and “the freedom of going out and practicing on their own schedules,” says Thomas Baldwin of Equestrian Sotheby’s International Realty in Wellington, Fla., the epicenter of the winter equestrian world.
Conversations are different in the equestrian community because owning land requires specialized know-how of what it takes to manage it. The talk is about water sources for horses rather than water features for aesthetics. Well-maintained pastures are prioritized over well-tended landscaping. Baldwin says buyers often put the needs of their horses over their own.
Equestrian communities thrive around the globe, particularly in Mexico, China, Brazil, and Argentina, according to the U.K.-based equine marketplace Horsemart. The U.S. has the most horse owners. Texas, California, and Florida lead the country. Cities like Lexington and Louisville, Ky.; Aiken, S.C.; and Ocala and Wellington, Fla., for instance, share a rich and historic riding culture. Some believe passion for the equestrian life is in the genes. Brandon is one of those people. She grew up a city girl, as well as a debutant. “Nobody in my family had anything to do with horses. But somehow my first word was ‘pony,’” she says.
As a teen, she spent time cleaning stalls at a friend’s family farm in exchange for riding lessons and fell hard for the barn life. “It’s an all-encompassing sport that brings everybody together. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. All that matters is your love for horses.”
NEW YORK “GROTON PLACE”
Commanding 108 acres, this spectacular country estate includes a 26-room brick Georgian-style manor house built in 1932 by architect Henry Sedgwick for Robert Winthrop. There is a pool and pool house, tennis court, playhouse, extensive stables and paddocks, a squash court, large barns, cottages, and numerous outbuildings, and garages. Located in Old Westbury, the manor house has seven master bedrooms, nine full baths and three half bathrooms, ample staff quarters, a wine cellar, central a/c, and a generator. Jericho/Westbury school districts. Approved subdivision.