An Inside View Horse Farm Tour Benefits Prancing Horse
By Claudia Watson
Special to The Pilot
When you drive through the Southern Pines horse country in awe of the beautiful farms and wonder about what is behind those gates, then plan to get a close-up view during the 2010 Horse Farm Tour, sponsored by Prancing Horse, on Sunday, Oct. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The benefit tour will offer an opportunity for visitors to view six horse farms and watch demonstrations ranging from dressage to polocrosse. Hosts include Nick and Effie Ellis, of Cornerstone Farm; Dr. Rebecca Estes, of Sunnybrook Farm; Kim Judge and Mike Jones, of Flagship Farm; Cathy Maready, of Mariah's Glen Farm; Herb and Deborah Roberts, of Windsong Farm; and Neil Schwartzberg, of Candlewood Farm.
Visitors to Flagship Farm will notice immediately that owners, Mike Jones and Kim Judge, spared no expense or detail on their equine residents - two miniatures, two refined event horses, two young Thoroughbreds and a sweet horse they have fostered.
The 30-acre equestrian property, which sits adjacent to the Walthour Moss Foundation, is all about their love of horses.
The horses have a spacious dream barn built of tumbled brick, natural stone and cedar and topped with a fancy cupola. The eight airy, rubber-matted stalls contain state-of-the art amenities for the equine residents, including an audio system for their listening pleasure. Coated metal front and back stall doors provide easy access and beautiful views of the property, which includes two ponds, a world-class riding ring and acres of fenced pastureland.
The barn also has a climate controlled hayloft, two wash stalls, a tack room with a granite island, barn office, bathroom, laundry and feed room equipped with one of the many features that Jones designed.
"Every time I went away, I'd get home and Mike had designed another special detail," says Kim Judge as she pulls out the labeled feed storage bins tucked into specially-designed cabinets under the counter. "He's very creative and finds unique ways to keep this place tidy and make the farm run efficiently."
She is quick to point out two of Mike Jones' other creative endeavors, a sturdy brick mounting block and a unique manure management system at the rear of the barn.
Flagship Farm also has plenty of room for two-legged inhabitants, with three separate living areas, including the custom main residence and a stand-alone two-bedroom guest cottage. In addition, there is a roomy, two-bedroom guest apartment above the barn, and that will be open for the tour.
In keeping with Mike Jones' love of all things nautical, the stairway to the barn apartment is paneled in pickled pine and offered light from a porthole window.
The apartment includes two comfortable bedrooms and a full bath. In one of the bedrooms, a handmade oak footlocker from Mike Jones' youth is etched with a flagship and sits at the foot of the bed.
The bedrooms are separated by a spacious great room and an open kitchen that overlook the front pond and pastureland. A roomy laundry and ample closet and storage space make this apartment a marvelous retreat.
Flagship Farm will host information displays by Healing Hearts Equine Rescue and Prancing Horse .
"He's probably one of the tallest horses in the county," says Dr. Rebecca Estes, of her 18-hand-plus, black Clydesdale purebred, Molarky, as she feeds him a carrot. Molarky is adept at unlocking his stall door, so it is now jerry-rigged with a special lock meant to challenge the curious horse as much as to keep him in his stall.
Estes, the owner of Sunnybrook Farm since 1998, has five horses, including Molarky, a 10-year-old Clydesdale carriage horse and field hunter.
"I guess you'd call me truly excessive, but I just love them all," she says. "They all developed very unique personalities."
The rest of her equine brood includes Yankee (General Lee), a Hanoverian dressage master that is teaching Estes dressage; Quincy, a junior dressage American Saddlebred; Darcy, a Thoroughbred, whose past career included 52 starts; and Holly, a 30-year-old Clydesdale Hackney cross, whose past career was pulling the Pinehurst tourist carriage.
The equine residents enjoy life on Estes' five-acre farm that was parceled from land that once belonged to Mickey Walsh's historic property, Stoneybrook. One of Walsh's homes, built in 1971, remained on the property and is the primary residence. It includes a large party room, where meetings for the Moore County Driving Club have been held.
The welcoming brick home is surrounded by established hollies, magnolias, river birches, fruit-bearing pear and fig trees and lovely perennial gardens. The property, which Estes calls, a "working farm," also includes an impressive shed row barn built in 1999 and a riding arena.
"It's quite functional," she says of the barn, designed by architect Mark Bearak after she gathered ideas from earlier horse farm tours. "It's a glorified run-in shed so they can come and go as often as they need," she explains, since her hours as an anesthesiologist are often unpredictable.
Other features include a chicken coop housing her hens - a dozen red Sexlink chickens and several white fantail doves.
Estes will be using her carriages and horses throughout the day.
Settled into the natural surroundings of towering longleaf pines, indigenous oaks, magnolias and hollies is the lush and very livable landscape that is Cornerstone Farm, home to Nick and Effie Ellis.
It is apparent that their love and respect of the land established the look of this comfortable home. Built by Alex Bowness in 1994, the natural stone and wood two-story home fits well into its surroundings.
The home's entrance is graced by a beautiful Natchez crape myrtle ready to show its fiery autumn foliage. The foyer provides a glimpse at the Ellis' sumptuous master bedroom, office, kitchen and dining room. An octagonal great room features a stacked stone fireplace and tall, arched windows that showcase the farm's pool, garden and nearby paddocks.
The barn, which is adjacent to the house, is a center aisle Morton Barn with six stalls that open to a back paddock to the rear and a grass riding ring in the front. The interior of the barn is covered in richly stained pine tongue and groove paneling accented with an assortment of colorful blankets and tack.
The tack room includes a kitchenette and bath; and a laundry, feed room, wash stall and a full hayloft that make this highly-functional space. An additional shed with three stalls sits near the barn, along with a chicken coop with 22 laying hens and a rooster named Jack.
Effie Ellis, who is the joint master of the Moore County Hounds, stays busy preparing for a new hunt season. Her five hunters enjoy the five well-groomed grass paddocks at the back of the property. Nearer the barn, a sweet pony and donkey beg for attention in another paddock under the tall pines.
Ellis says that Cornerstone Farm has hosted Prancing Horse's horse farm tour before.
"It's important that the equestrian community help this very wonderful cause," she says. "We enjoy sharing our home and farm so that Prancing Horse can continue to do its valuable work in our community."
Proceeds from the 2010 Horse Farm Tour will be given to Prancing Horse, which helps children and adults in the Sandhills region with physical, mental and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse.
Claudia Watson is a local freelance writer and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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