| Dec 18, 2008

Dec 18/08 - Meadowridge Farm

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Feature Article - December 18, 2008 Meadowridge FarmBy Jeff Green

Above: The completed riding arena. Left: Lifting the roof trussses into place.

Driving up and over the hills of the Willis Armstrong Road, (located off the Zealand road near where Central Frontenac, Tay Valley and Addington Highlands meet) is a bit like returning to the farming roots of the region, where snake rail fences continue to point to the boundaries between properties.

Meadowridge Farm (aka the Old Donnelly place) is a 250 acre spread about a kilometre or so from Zealand road. It was once a typical Canadian Shield cattle farm, featuring some pretty decent small pastureland, punctuated with granite outcroppings that are anything but handy for farming.

Unlike many local farms, the barns at Meadowridge Farm have received a lot of attention over the past 8 years, as the property has been transformed into a horse riding and stabling operation by the White family.

In the past couple of months, a brand new, massive shell of a building has been going up. It is an arena that has been built for year round riding.

We did not really have any plans for the property when we bought it,” said Sandra White, who owns the property with her husband Frank. “We started by fixing up the house, which we originally thought was a frame house, but it turned out to be a late 1800’s log home, covered in clapboard siding. We refinished the house and added an addition, and have spent the time since then landscaping, upgrading the barns, building fences and cutting riding trails.

“There were no solid plans for making Meadowridge into anything more than a hobby farm until our oldest daughter Jen, decided to pursue a career in the horse industry and left home to attend Kemptville College.”

The course focussed on equines and correct horsemanship.

Jennifer White with a student.

“The course really opened my eyes to the level of care that is necessary and expected in North American facilities,” Jen says about her two years at Kemptville, which ended in 2006. Upon completion of the course she was offered a job managing a farm near Ottawa, which she declined in favour of working at Meadowridge.

“I have educated myself as thoroughly as possible in all aspects of horse health, management, and feeding practices, and have now worked with hundreds of horses in many different environments, and have become confident in my own abilities to both train horses and teach people,” Jen says about the horse care riding lessons she offers at Meadowridge.

“While I teach Western and English, including jumping, my preferred discipline is Classical Dressage (pronounced dress-ahhzh), which is a French term that is usually translated to mean "Training" and basically looks like ballet on horseback. I also love teaching riding theory, horse psychology and correct horsemanship.”

Over the years boarding facilities and trails have been developed at Meadowridge Farm, but Canadian weather has prevented Jen White from being able to offer riding lessons on a year round basis. That was what motivated Frank White to consider what has become a massive building project.

There were many challenges including coming up with a design and finding an engineer, deciding the location, and most importantly, getting the structure erected and enclosed before bad weather hit. In mid August they received the final engineered drawings. The pouring of the foundation was completed on August 29th.

The structure measurements are 65ft by 130 ft which required substantial re-bar and concrete in the foundation. In total over 8 trucks of concrete, thousands of feet of lumber and over 11,000 square feet of steel were used.

On Sept 4th Frank White, Jen White, Kevin Rioux and Rob Moore started the construction. They worked roughly 12 hour days for 3 solid weeks until the trusses were installed and all of the strapping was in place. Frank & Jennifer completed the project over the following 7 weeks.

The floor of the arena is made up of sand mixed with shredded rubber, making it ideal for the horses.

For further information on lessons or other services, call 613-268-2179

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