Tell me a fun fact about yourself or your business.
Horses age at a three-to-one ratio to humans. Our 30-year-old horse, Little Red, is actually 90 years old in horse years.
What are some of the horses’ names?
Little Red was the first horse born here; he’s my most favorite horse we have.
We also have: Silly Gilly, the inquisitive horse Rascal (this visitor’s favorite and best friends with Little Red), Sugar Bear, Mickey, Minnie, Baby Belle, Buddy, Prissy, Spike (a gentle giant), Jackson Brown (best friends with Spike), and many more.
How long have you been in business?
We’ve been here 32 years. The ranch opened in 1989 but we started offering public lessons and a summer camp in 1996.
Describe an average day for you.
The days are long, hot, and hard but lead to priceless memories that last for a lifetime. The horses wander around the pastures most of the day unless we are hosting camp or have a person who’d like to ride. We feed the horses hay twice a day. The hay comes from a friend of ours in Virginia Beach, Kemp Williams. Other daily tasks include grooming the horses and cleaning their stalls.
When did you decide to become an equestrian center? How did you get started or inspired?
Both me and my husband have been riding all our lives. Horses are a vehicle to the heart. My inspiration is to teach people the responsibility involved in keeping a horse and also how to ride horses well. When a person invests time into caring for a horse (or anything), their love and appreciation for it increases.
In my childhood, I moved back and forth from Whaleyville (pre-incorporation into Suffolk) and Suffolk. I bought this farm with my husband 32 years ago for our 10th wedding anniversary. I adore the trees, most of which have been here for 50 to 60 years and are a source of life to us. They provide firewood and shade for both us and the horses. I particularly appreciate them in the summer because it is 15-20 degrees cooler on the wood trail than it is in the open sun.
Are most of your clients from Suffolk or elsewhere? What is the split between hobbyists and competitive riders?
Most of our clients are from Suffolk though we’ve gotten people from other regions in the Hampton Roads area and Southampton County. The people who attended our camp as a kid now bring their children or grandchildren to us, which is wonderful! We don’t pay attention to whether people are hobbyists or competitive but emphasize skill level. We always encourage people to bond with the horses and practice their riding.
Do you breed the horses or buy them as youths or adults from elsewhere?
Our horses were either bred here or rescued/adopted from elsewhere. Minnie was adopted when a friend of mine passed away.
There are several parent-child pairs on the farm. Out of the 28 horses we keep on the farm, 9 of them are boarders.
What’s next for you? New store? Expansion (including online)? Upcoming competitions?
We’re gearing up for the summer camp, which is a full-time job. We also have to paint the back of the barn.
Tell me about your summer camp – how, when, why it got started. Average schedule for kids, etc.
I wanted to give children a positive outlet so they wouldn’t get into trouble. The camp started in 1996, when I began giving riding lessons to my cousin and her friends. This year’s camp runs June 13th to September 2nd. The camp is non-stop activity. On the first day, we assign a horse to each child – it is their responsibility to groom, feed, and care for the horse that week. In return, the kid will learn how to ride that horse. The average camp day goes: bible study, caring for the horse, riding, lunch, and either swimming or going for a trail ride in the woods. We want people to love the horses as much as we do.
Do you permit people to visit your farm? When?
You can come by appointment for riding lessons or join our kids’ summer camp.
How can potential customers reach you?
We are active on Facebook. You can call ahead to 757-925-4232 for a riding appointment or go online to our website https://ranch.mulhollandgroup.com to register your child for the summer camp.