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     Vol. 22, No. 2                                    September 2008

NVRHA: Creating the Recreation Horse of the Future

                       I   nside
                           ndoor   ARENAS
                        STABLE TALK:
                        Get the Scoop on
                        3 Oregon Boarding Facilities

                                                                                                                                                     program. Clients are guaranteed not only           years for facilities that are already operating   yoga on horseback and research has shown
                                                                                                                                                     high quality, beautiful facilities, but creative   and with a branded (O’Connor or Lyons             that animals are therapeutic,” Donovan
                                                                                                                                                     programming, concierge-style staffing,               Signature) those branding licenses and man-       explains. “I was trying to figure out how we
                                                                                                                                                     Olympic-level horse care and top-notch             agement contracts are for ten years.              could combine people and horses to make
                                                                                                                                                     customer service.”                                      “We’re very invested in serving the de-      this concept work. Now people can have
                                                                                                                                                           In addition to the company’s vision          velopers and municipalities we work with,”        the spa experience and have horses involved
                                                                                                                                                     to provide the highest quality planning,           Donovan says. “We work face to face with          too. It’s kind of cutting edge, yet we’re not
                                                                                                                                                     designing and management services, Dono-           people in those communities. We found if          inventing anything new, just ramping it up
                                                                                                                                                     van also says they want to unite all in the        we didn’t do it all--if the bases aren’t cov-     a notch.”
                                                                                                                                                     equestrian community.                              ered--there is a risk of failure. So with that          By being an innovator in their in-
                                                                                                                                                           “We all have the common love of the          in mind, we want everyone to be happy.”           dustry and wanting to set high standards
                                                                                                                                                     horse,” she says. “We should be inclusive                                                            for quality that transfers down through
                      Story by Maggie J. Malson • Photos provided by Equestrian Services, LLC                                                        about riding. Our communities accept riders        A bright future                                   developers and management to homeown-
                                                                                                                                                     from all different disciplines. For example,            Equestrian Services, LLC., sees a             ers, the facilities staff and even the horses
   is premier company offers plan-               clients. Several companies can design and         are employees of ours,” Donovan says. “We          if there is a husband and wife, and he rides     bright future for this industry as “horses          themselves, Equestrian Services, LLC, has
ning and design, delivery and                   build a barn, but Equestrian Services, offers      have a vested interest in their welfare, and in    Western and she’s a hunter/jumper, they can      are the new golf” and more people are               built themselves up as a premier company
                                                a turn-key equestrian amenity to its clients.”    how that translates to the customer service
management of equestrian ameni-                                                                                                                      be rest assured they are both welcome at the     wanting to live or vacation with horse              in the horse world.
                                                         e clientele Equestrian Services works    they provide. When I hire someone, the first        barn and will be treated as equals.”             riding opportunities. Donovan says there                  “We watch and see how leaders in
ties around the world.                          with include municipalities, communities          question I ask them is ‘If you had a choice                                                         are probably thousands of horse facilities          other fields accomplish goals then apply
      Eight years ago, horse enthusiasts        and resorts.                                      between working with horses and working                e creative process                           across the country so the potential to work         that to our industry,” Donovan says. “ at
Michael and Jennifer Donovan, were in the            “We feel we can make the biggest             with people, which would you choose?’ And               When working with a new client,             with more clients continues. Right now the          benefits many
construction business with many projects        impact by working with those sectors of the       if they choose horses, then they are not a         the first step Equestrian Services takes is       company employs 13 full-time people, but            people on
including building barns and putting in         industry,” Donovan says. “We use a business       good fit for us. We are in a people business.       performing a feasibility study. e company sees that number growing.                                  many levels.
fencing. Based in Annapolis, MD, at the         model to set-up their facility that includes a    Our trainers are good teachers, whether its        determines what programming to offer,                   “We are conscious of having man-              We all believe
time, the couple began getting many calls       detailed operational budget and use a sound       horses or people. If they weren’t working          who the target market is, what the highest       aged growth,” she says. “We want to grow            in what we’re
from out of the county, state and even from     financial model in order to make the busi-         with horses, they would probably be teach-         and best use is for the project, what facilities slowly. We will only take on a few projects         doing and that
the West Coast.                                 ness sustainable.”                                ing kindergarten or something. ey have             are needed and what the capital costs and        a year to maintain the level of quality we          translates to
      “We realized no one was serving the                                                         that gift of working with people.”                 operational costs will be.                       want our clients to have. We have also de-          our clients.”
equestrian market,” Jennifer Donovan says.      A greater mission                                                                                         “ e study becomes the foundation            cided we won’t compete against ourselves.
“So we starting getting into the planning             In 2005, Donovan took time to evalu-        Serving people                                     for the entire plan,” Donovan says. “We          We can offer exclusivity to our developers
and designing of equestrian facilities.”        ate the vision for the company.                         Donovan says 90 percent of the busi-         then design and oversee the construction.        which is another advantage to working
      Today, the company they started to-             “I had a moment of clarity when I was       ness they do is for planned communities and        Our staff are certified through Equestrian         with us. e developer can negotiate the
gether, Equestrian Services, LLC, with cor-     trying to figure out a vision for the future       resorts.                                           Services. Our program is all about customer only O’Connor or John Lyons Signature
porate headquarters in Charlottesville, VA,     of the work we were doing,” she says. “I                “We offer a turn-key equestrian ame-          service. We not only create the program,         facility in a certain area.”
is a premier entity, and the only company       wanted to know what would keep me loving          nity,” she says. “We have added the David          but are involved in the marketing, then we             Most of the work Equestrian Services
in the world offering specialized equestrian     this job and wanting to get up and go to it       and Karen O’Connor Signature brand. Our            deliver the experience through turn-key          does involves going into a planned commu-
feasibility, planning, design, branding, pro-   every single day. I was driven by a holistic      whole business model is based off the golf          management.”                                     nity as either the anchor amenity or as one
gramming and management services.               approach and by the need to improve the           industry. We’re like the ‘Jack Nicklaus of the          Donovan says they didn’t originally         of several amenities.
      “About three years ago, I was trying to   conditions of the horses.”                        equestrian world.’”                                plan on being in the management part of it,            “It’s all about offering the highest
figure out what I could do to get me jazzed            She explains they had been to several                e O’Connor Signature at e Oaks is         but realized it made sense because they were quality to our clients,” Donovan says.
every day about going to work,” Donovan         five star resorts with horse facilities and wit-   the world’s first branded equestrian facility.      involved in all the other aspects of the plan-         Another recent venture is the partner-
says. “I wanted to help change the industry,    nessed many animals had no access to water           e planned community located in Lake             ning and building.                               ing with WTS International, one of the
leave a legacy behind that whatever project     or were being kept in squalor.                    City, FL, already has home sites purchased,             “ e client may end up with an inferior world’s leading spa, fitness and recreational
we worked on, we made it better for others.           “ ere are no standards in this in-          robust reservations with the facility and          program if the developer, who may not            activity consulting
We’re equestrians, but we’re all business       dustry,” she adds. “It became my mission,         will celebrate its grand opening in October        know anything about horses, hires a staff         and management
people too.”                                    my calling in life, to improve not only the       2008.                                              with little-to-no experience,” she explains.     firms. Together,
         at’s how Equestrian Services can       conditions of the horses, but also the staff             Equestrian Services has also partnered       “Some developers don’t know who to hire.         the companies can
promise its clients a facility that not only    and employees and customers. So many of           with John Lyons to offer another exclusive          Many homeowners associations aren’t set-up offer developers the
looks beautiful, but also makes sound busi-     the employees work with horses because they       brand to developers.                               to run payroll either.                           Equi-Spa Lifestyle
ness and operational sense.                     love it, but some facility owners take advan-           “It allows us to brand our facilities with        “With our process you are guaranteed        Solutions Program,
      “We have staff who have experience         tage of that and don’t compensate their staff      the high level of quality associated with the      continuity of service,” Donovan explains. “If an equine–human
in banking, architecture, finance, process       accordingly. We feel employees should get a       O’Connors and the Lyons,” Donovan says.            a trainer or barn manager were to leave, we program integrated
improvement, leadership training and other      living wage, workman’s comp, benefits, etc.”       “ e brands speak to credibility and authen-        would have someone in their place almost         within the spa
industries,” Donovan says. “ ey have been             In turn, all this improves the conditions   ticity-–that this is the real deal.                immediately; whereas if they weren’t our         environment for a
in the trenches plus they combine business      for the customers.                                      “We start with an analysis and assess        employees, the community would have no           unique and exciting                                      Above: Kids enjoy their day at the O’Connor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Signature at e Oaks on the ribbon cutting
professionalism and equestrian knowledge.             “We do all of our own hiring and any-       the needs of the community,” Donovan               recourse if someone up and left.                 experience.                                              day in March 2008.
We have a much better service to offer our       one who works in our facilities we manage         adds. en we design a facility to fit the                 Management contracts start at three               “I used to teach
36 — Cascade Horseman, September 2008                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cascade Horseman, September 2008 — 37