Go Horse Shop’s Guide to Horse Shopping In: Chester County, PA
Written by Go Horse Shop on October 26, 2017
Horse Shopping in Chester County, PA
In our previous horse shopping articles, we’ve explored some the most popular equine destinations around the country. We’ve ventured through Ocala FL “The Horse Capital of the World,” and through “Thoroughbred Country” of Aiken SC, and our adventures are just beginning! The next stop on our horse shopping list is picturesque area of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Nestled amidst “the best hill country of America”, charming towns, rich history, and of course, tons of horse farms, Chester County is a must for your horse shopping list.
You can’t mention Chester County without mentioning Louise Serio and Derbydown; Serio has had, and continues to have, one of the longest and most successful hunter careers in the history of the sport. A bold statement that only a rider of her caliber can uphold. Not only has she proven herself in the hunter ring time and time again, she also has decades of success in producing some of the best riders throughout the amateur, junior, pony, jumper, and equitation rings. She also has had a hand in the development and formation of significant programs such as the World Championship Hunter Rider Program, the USEF International and National Hunter Derby, the USHJA Foundation and Making a Dream program and more. If you’re in the market for a show hunter, or if you’re looking to be taught by one of the absolute best, your first stop is with Louise Serio at Derbydown.
Chester County is full of equestrian legends, one of them being the renowned Bruce Davidson. Bruce has been a member of the U.S. Equestrian Team since 1971, and in that time has won two Olympic Team Gold Medals in 1976 and 1984, and two Olympic Team Silver Medals in 1972 and 1996. This rider’s accomplishments can take up entire articles of their own, so I’ll just say that Bruce has the highest place rider in the World FEI rankings in 1993 and 1995, and was named the USEA leading rider every year from 1980 to 1995. No wonder Bruce was inducted into the Eventing Hall of Fame in 2009! Bruce continues to breed, train, and compete world-class event and multi-discipline horses out of his world-class facility Chesterland Farm during the spring, summer, and fall. The majority of their home breds are by the famous Keltic Lion out of proven brood mares, and are bred not only for athletic ability, but soundness and temperament as well. So if you’re looking for a young prospect, be sure to stop by Bruce Davidson’s Chesterland. You can also find his son, prodigy Buck Davidson, at Chesterland in the summers.
The legend continues to the unstoppable team at Blue Hill Farm, home to three time Olympian Jessica Ransehousen and Pan Am Silver Medalist Missy Ransehousen. Jessica’s career has been legendary; she has recently been honored for her many contributions to Dressage by being inducted into the USDF’s Hall of Fame, as well as being given the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the USEF in 2009. She has certainly created big shoes for her daughter to fill, through hard work and dedication Missy has stepped up to the plate and carved her own path in Eventing. Missy established herself as a talented rider and has her own accolades to prove it, such as a Team Silver Medal in the Pan Am Games in 1995. Not only is she a formidable competitor, she is also and admired and revered coach. Missy has been the coach for the United States Paralympic team for the past three Olympic games, even setting aside her own Beijing Olympic team. Her Paralympic students include successful riders such as Gigi McIntosh, Becca Hart, Elizabeth Piggot, and James Dwyer. In addition to being incredible coaches and horsewomen, Jessica and Missy also have extensive contacts in the U.S. and Europe with top trainers and breeders, so if Blue Hill doesn’t already have the right horse for you, they can help you find perfect mount.
Our next stop on our Chester County horse shopping list is Kimber-View Stables. Troy Hendricks and his wife Annette run their business as a family operation with deep roots on family tradition and history. Troy has over 20 years of experience on the AA circuit, and brings a high level of training, attention, and care to his horses. He is passionate about matching riders with their ideal horse, and thrives on utilizing his extensive networking connections to help find your perfect mount. Kimber-View Stables imports many horses from Europe, and consistently has a fine collection of sale horses including proven Show Jumpers, Hunters, and Equitation horses, making it the perfect addition on our horse shopping list. Other similar barns in the area worth checking out include: John Muldoon and Reinbow’s End Farm, and Second Nature Farm.
As I mentioned earlier, Chester County is full of equestrian legends. A legendary list just wouldn’t be complete without the mention of Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton, whose names are practically synonymous with the sport of Eventing. Superstars Boyd and Silva Martin’s Windurra USA, and icon Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm are both nestled in the heart of Chester County for the warmer months of the year. Don’t forget to add some of the best in the business to your Chester County horse shopping list. Other high caliber trainers in the area include Jennie Brannigan’s Brannigan Eventing, Erin Sylvester’s ES Eventing, Matt Brown’s East West Training Stables, and Ryan Wood’s Woodstock Eventing located at True Prospect Farm.
See the area’s top riders in action and visit Chester County’s Plantation Field. The Plantation Field International Horse Trials are an absolute favorite of the area featuring the best event horses and riders in the country. Not only are you bound to be star struck by top riders, but you’re bound to have a blast with the area’s best tailgating on the cross country course, shopping at Vendor Village, V.I.P. parties, and unparalleled hospitality. They have also recently partnered with Retired Racehorse Project as a beneficiary, and if you’re like me, you appreciate anything that showcases the incredibly diverse American Thoroughbred. We just missed their International Horse Trials, but act quick and check out their Starter Horse Trials October 28th, and check back for other recognized events and schooling shows in the new year.
If you’re really looking for an unforgettable experience, head to “Where the Champions Meet” at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. Where Plantation Field is known for eventing, Devon is known for, well, almost everything else! The Devon Horse Show is the oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed horse show in the U.S., drawing in spectators from around the world and bringing in some of the top competitors and horses. From Leadline to Grand Prix, Green Hunters to Ladies Side Saddle, Hackneys to Friesians, The Carriage Pleasure Drive to Coaching, Devon has something to offer every equine enthusiast. The Devon Horse Show takes place late May through early June, and they also host Dressage at Devon, and the Fall Festival with equine related vendors and the “best food on the show circuit.” Don’t miss this unparalleled event in 2018!
Other notable horse shows in Chester County include the Brandywine Horse Show Summer Series, hosted at the prestigious Devon show grounds, and the Chester County tradition Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show and Country Fair – a local favorite for over 70 years. If you’re visiting this fall, don’t miss the Chester County Horse Show Association’s invitational Hunter Finals, and medal finals this November at the scenic Wyndsor Farm.
After you’ve found your perfect horse and you’ve explored the local show circuits, explore Chester County’s charming towns and local attractions. If you’re looking to relax, surround yourself with the beauty and wonder of Longwood Gardens. This botanical garden is comprised of over 1,000 acres of breathtaking gardens, greenhouses, woodlands, sprawling meadows and more. They often host events and classes based on the seasons, and even feature fountain performances and light shows. If you’re heading to Chester County this fall, be sure to visit in time for pumpkin picking and their Chrysanthemum Festival. Or if you find yourself visiting this winter, you’ll be just in time for a Longwood Christmas; take in the holiday themed open air theatre fountain show, partake in organ sing-alongs, or stroll amid the winter wonderland of half a million lights in their outdoor display. Also check out Ridley Creek and Brandywine Creek State Parks while you’re in the mellow meadow mood.
Brush up on your history and take in the rich past and deep roots of this historical area by visiting local museums, parks, and monuments. Don’t miss Valley Forge National Historical Park, the site of the 1777-78 Revolutionary War encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. The park also features the early 20th century National Memorial Arch, and recreated log cabin barracks. Also be sure to visit the historical Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library for a truly special day.
Of course, there are so many talented trainers and wonderful barns out there, and so much to do in between that we can’t possibly name them all. (If you’re like me, I recommend taking a winery tour in your downtime.) And as always, no matter what horse you find and what you choose to do, we are happy to help here at Go Horse Shop. Happy horse hunting!