'Horsepitality': Stylish Farms and New Breed of Horse.
By Claudia Watson
Special to The Pilot
Moore County horse farm owners will show off their fabulous properties during the 2011 Horse Farm Tour, sponsored by Prancing Horse, on Sunday, Oct. 16, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hosts include Paul and Maureen Grippa, Blackrock Stables; Linda McVicker, of Marilee Farm; Brig. Gen. (ret.) William R. Holmes and Camilla Vance, of The Old Goat Farm; Bruce and Donna Holcomb, of Spotted Pines Farm; John and Deborah Wilson, of Sunninghill Farm; and Will and Christine Smith, of Wishing Well Farm. Here is a peek of what tour visitors will see when they visit Spotted Pines Farm, a stylish renovation and spacious retreat.
The 10-acre Spotted Pines Farm blends into the natural setting of towering longleaf pines and is barely seen from the road. That is what the owners, Bruce and Donna Holcomb, envisioned as they worked and successfully created the substantial renovation of the hunt box property they purchased in 2003.
While living in the carriage house apartment, they dismantled and with the help of designer Linda Dreher, reconfigured the original hunt box and expanded it into a 6,000-square-foot residence and added a new barn.
The home's elegant living room, which overlooks the pool, is filled with art, antiques and family mementos. Down the hall, there is the cozy book-lined library where the couple lingers at the end of the day. Sumptuous leather recliners and the warm glow of a fire offer a comfortable space for a late night movie or book.
There is a convenient coffee bar and half-bath outside Bruce Holcomb's large office, which is furnished with an executive-sized desk and comfortable chairs.
The new and stylish addition to the home includes an intimate breakfast room that opens to a screened porch. The kitchen features a 15-foot-long granite countertop with soft overhead drop lighting and soft ivory cabinetry.
The kitchen area flows effortlessly into the airy great room, with a stunning cathedral ceiling accented by heavy wood beams. The soaring natural stone fireplace promises to offer the Holcombs' guests the smell of a real wood fire this autumn.
Along one side of the room is a 16-foot mirrored mahogany pub bar, an Internet find that had to be cut into three pieces before it could be shipped to the U.S.
Visitors are welcomed to the five-stall barn by a life-size woodcarving named Chief Joseph, in tribute to the head of the Nez Perce tribe that developed the Appaloosa breed.
The farm's name, Spotted Pines, was derived from the pine trees on the property and their first horse, a leopard Appaloosa named War Chief Cochise that the Holcombs acquired 16 years ago.
"Like many first-time horse buyers, we purchased Cochise for his unique coat, not knowing at the time that he had thrown two prior potential buyers," says Holcomb. "Early on, he certainly tested us, but now he's a great horse."
In addition to War Chief Cochise, the barn is also home to Red Baron, a 2,000-pound Belgian thoroughbred cross, as well as a thoroughbred and two quarter horses.
Their bright and airy barn, lined in Southern white pine, also includes a feed room, tidy wash stall, bath and utility room. Colorful horse blankets are neatly stacked in the well-organized tack room that displays English as well as Western saddles and chaps and many family keepsakes.
Growing Old with the New
Paul Grippa read an article many years ago that said one of the ways to build a long and happy marriage is to share a hobby. Though he and his wife, Maureen, rode horses together, he did not find much enjoyment in riding.
"He discovered that he liked harness driving and became quite good at it," says Maureen, while standing in their four-stall barn at Blackrock Stables. "This has become our shared hobby."
Their infatuation began in earnest when they purchased their first Friesian from Holland, a 4-year-old named Sytse, who now at 14, is retired from competition.
Five years ago, Maureen traveled back to Holland with her driving trainer, Wiebe Dragstra, who has been following the development of the AraboFreisian (Turbo-Friesian), a new breed, from the beginning.
Maureen selected two young Turbo-Friesian foals, Dark Tys and Dark Uke.
"We've raised them since they were babies, and they've raised us, so we know each other's temperaments very well," says Maureen as she strokes Dark Uke's forelock braid.
In addition, they also own Chico, a 35-year-old strawberry roan Appaloosa quarter horse, who is playfully referred to as their "senior citizen."
Horses are a way of life at Blackrock Stables. The charming hunt box, built in 2010, sits amid 12 acres of pastureland bordered by wide plank fencing. The one-bedroom apartment, which is not open for the tour, is the first phase of the couple's plans for the property, which will include a main house and another barn.
The tidy stable area includes wash stall, tack room, laundry, bathroom, feed room, equipment room, hay storage with a conveyor to the hayloft.
The Grippas, who compete as a couple with their Turbo-Friesians, take care of the horses and the property themselves.
"This is a healthy lifestyle that guarantees a good night's rest," says Maureen with a laugh. "Thanks to my husband's pursuit of a hobby that we could share, we've been together for 35 years. We're growing old together, very happily, just like that article promised."
Blackrock Stables will offer driving demonstrations throughout the day of the tour. For a preview visit, see http://youtube/5vfHc GAl7DE.
Proceeds from the 2011 Horse Farm Tour benefit 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.
Tickets are $20 in advance at The Country Bookshop, Given Book Shop, Sandhills Winery, the Village Wine Shop, Lady Bedford's Tea Parlour, Moore Equine Supply and Feed, and the Bakehouse and Cafe.
Tickets are $25 on the day of the tour and may be picked up at the N.C. State University Equine Health Center, 6045 U.S. 1.
Children under 12 are admitted free.
For information, call (910)246-3202, or visit the website www.prancinghorsecenter.com, or email info@firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claudia Watson is a -freelance writer and may be reached at email@example.com.
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