Work On $3M Heritage Equestrian Center Nearly Finished
GERRY — Heritage Ministries has been focusing on raising more than $12 million in a capital campaign to build infrastructure intended to make the senior living experience more varied for residents.
Riding, petting and watching horses should bring some variety to the village and the surrounding community.
Construction on the $3 million Homestead Stables began in March, and now CEO David Smeltzer is getting ready for a grand opening for the stables and riding arena Dec. 8 from 1-5 p.m. with a 2 p.m. ribbon cutting. The public is welcome to attend.
In fact, the public is always welcome to attend. Smeltzer said the equestrian center will be a lot of things to a lot of people, providing community outreach while rebranding their identity.
“We’re certainly unique in our area,” Smeltzer said.
Village residents and visitors will be able to watch horse shows and events from a heated viewing area, board horses and train them, and learn how to ride horses through professional lessons from a full-time staff. Horses are also planned to provide therapeutic services for residents, training for youth during club and other equestrian-related activities and clinics to show off their skills.
“You can get information from experts,” Smeltzer said.
Three full-time employees will service the equestrian center with Stable Manager Heather Payne and Assistant Manager Joe Lynch leading the team. Another facilities employee will be responsible for day-to-day operations.
“I’m very thrilled to be managing such a unique facility to Western New York,” Payne said.
Payne graduated from the University of Findlay in Ohio with a degree in equine science. She has also owned Payne Show Horses for the past 15 years and will continue to operate her business while working at the stable full-time.
“Business is what I’m used to,” Payne said. “I’m excited to be able to manage a facility. Our goal is to support the mission of Heritage Ministries.”
The center itself will feature 41 stables, 20 of which are already reserved to house a few horses Heritage owns and several horses boarded by members of the community. A 112-foot wide by 219-foot long riding arena will give horses room to trot and interact with trainers and guests. Movable fences can also make the riding area smaller or bigger to accommodate different events.
Those who only want to watch the horses in action have a large viewing area with windows extending from the floor to look through. The space will feature bathrooms and a kitchenette, making it a spot Smeltzer said will be a good fit for hosting various events, including the first clinic which will be hosted in conjunction with the National Reigning Association shortly after the grand opening.
Bleachers on the first floor and balcony seating will be available for those who want to view horses outside of the viewing area. Stalls themselves are 10 feet wide and 12 feet deep and outfitted with automatic waterers and clean air. A 60-by-80-foot pen will also be available for additional training, especially for younger horses.
Groups will be able to set up appointments to visit the Homestead Stables. Those who board horses will have 24/7 access to their animals and the stable amenities.
Smeltzer said someone already became a resident of Heritage because he wanted to be around the stables and see his granddaughter take lessons at the facility. Other potential residents will be able to retire with their horses and board them.