By Tammy Martell
It all started when my daughter, Jamie, began dressage lessons at age five in Pepperell, Massachusetts. It was immediately evident that Jamie was a horse girl. My husband’s job required our family to move every few years. We were a military family, and soon had to move to Washington State. The first thing on the agenda, for Jamie, was finding a riding stable.
Then, for Jamie’s tenth birthday, she got her very own horse- a Morgan named Ginger that had been doing upper level dressage. We were lucky enough with our move to have acquired a few acres, with a barn, so Ginger could live at home. Jamie still went to the stables for lessons and joined the United States Pony Club (USPC) that met there.
Within a couple years, we were moving again. This time we had to move Ginger with us, all the way from Washington to Georgia. After a lot of research, we decided to hire professionals and have Ginger shipped. It had proved to be almost impossible to find lodging for a horse, all the way across the United States. Landing in Georgia, Jamie continued to compete in dressage but also continued in USPC. Jamie earned her C-3 Level Rating with Ginger, and earned several awards in the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association and dressage.
As Jamie’s skills progressed, and the USPC jumping requirements increased, Jamie decided to focus on eventing. Ginger, on the other hand, said, “Whoa! I’m a dressage queen!” and a second horse was soon added to the family. Rex was an off-the-track Thoroughbred, who came to be an eventing extraordinaire! As Ginger aged, she went to live at the Virginia Horse Park, became part of their Therapeutic Riding Program, and continued to compete in dressage.
I was thrilled Jamie’s riding was progressing, but I now found us on the road, traveling the show circuit. The dilemma of lodging with horses refocused. I hated leaving the horses at a stable, then traveling to a hotel. Being in the horse world yourself, you know the challenges we face. Non-horse travelers can find a place anywhere, anytime just by pulling out their cell phones and Google searching for a hotel. Not so easy when you’re towing a trailer with horses! I always hated the exhausting process of finding a stable, unloading the horses, caring for them and then traveling another 20 or 30 minutes, to check in and unload at our hotel. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place I could just check in with our horse and stay at that same location?” Violá! The Bed and Barn Farms concept was born.
In 2009, I turned this concept into a reality. I purchased a 34 acre farm in Forest City, NC, being equally spaced an hour from Charlotte and Ashville, and opened a horse hotel. I found the perfect location, half way between the North East and Florida, 30 minutes to the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE), and best of all, only ten minutes to the Tryon International Equestrian Center (which will host the 2018 World Equestrian Games).
It was the perfect property. First and foremost, there was the opportunity to lodge with your horse. There was a spacious four-stall barn, directly connected to a three-bedroom, two and a half bath apartment, where guests could stay, with enough lodging space to comfortably fit eight people. I made sure Bed and Barn Farms would have all the amenities I would want in a hotel- full kitchen, laundry, Wi-Fi, and cable. In addition, were the equine luxuries of large stalls, multiple paddocks, a full-size dressage arena, and 17 acres of wooded trails. There was even plenty of turnaround room, for even the largest horse trailer.
After Bed and Barn Farm’s first year, I decided to diversify and boost business, so I began hosting clinics, as well as opening a tack store on property. My first clinic, I hosted the late Mark Russell. His Natural Dressage techniques were so sought after in the area that he returned twice a year, for the next four years. If any of you attended one of Mark’s clinics, you were blessed. Other clinics included topics such as “Intro to Trail Riding”, “The Healthy Horse”, and “Trailer Safety”. We also hosted several “Ride-a-Tests”.
After hosting several clinics, I made an addition to the farm adding TAM’S – short for Tack, Antique, and Merchandise Store. It was convenient to have the equipment for sale, onsite, that sometimes get lost or forgotten while traveling, not only for the event I was hosting, but also for the attendees that were staying. I wanted TAM’S to be more than just a tack store though, so besides carrying the latest in tack and riding apparel, I partnered with local artisans and decided to carry their one-of-a-kind, equestrian-themed pieces of jewelry, stained and painted glassware, hand-carved wooden bowls, and iron work made from horse shoes. Also, when they were available, I’d offer up interesting variety of antiques.
This horse hotel idea, stemming from my frustration traveling with horses, became a fun venture to create a relaxing and convenient experience for the traveling rider, while making sure the horses’ needs were not forgotten. I’m proud to say I’m a horse- and show- mom who can make overnight travels with your horses convenient and hassle-free!
You can visit the Bed and Barn website here: bedandbarnnc.com