On Aug. 1, ClaudeLee “Elee” Johnson will officially open the stable doors to Fairfield Farm — a 20-acre luxury boarding facility and horse property in Santa Ynez — while aiming to build a community of riders and boarders who share her love for horses and the sport.
The passion project, which began in 2018 when Johnson moved to the area from Long Island, was built on a dream to bring "the magic of East Coast riding club culture" to the Santa Ynez Valley, akin to the high-end equestrian barns she’d left behind.
The equestrian farm features a two-story horse barn with 30 stalls for boarding, nine all-weather turnouts including irrigated grass paddocks, a jumper ring, an Olympic regulation-size dressage ring and a 300-by-250-foot grass field.
In addition, Fairfield Farm offers private, advanced riding lessons for both adults and children.
"I want to create an improved experience for the riders here on the West Coast," Johnson explained. "One that is positive and beneficial, not only regarding the correct communication between horse and rider, but one which is inclusive and positive toward the fellow rider.”
The New Yorker-turned-Californian grew up riding and showing horses at top riding clubs like the Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien, Connecticut and Old Salem Farm in New York, and performed at some of the world’s most prestigious horse shows. For three decades Johnson also studied under world-class hunter and jumper trainers Scott Stewart, Jenny Yacoe-Fischer and Mark Leone.
Transforming the property from its original state of disrepair to a facility that fits the standards she had come to expect at the clubs she once frequented was a labor of love which Johnson said required significant financial resources.
The stalls were pitted, the dressage ring was full of rocks, and the fencing was falling down, she added.
The final result to debut in August is a culmination of comfort and luxury for both the horse and rider that Johnson likens to "a playground for the rider."
“It’s a prime facility with huge turnouts," Johnson said. "And it’s ideal living for a horse.”
Horse stalls are lined with rubber mats, equipped with individual fans, custom latches, automated waterers and an automatic fly spray system. The barn aisles also are paved and new fencing has been installed throughout the property.
Johnson noted that the barn doors are sourced from Pennsylvania’s Amish country and add an air of old-world authenticity.
"I built it as I would have wanted it," she said. "It’s above and beyond the norm.”
Focusing on care and safety of occupant horses, Johnson explained that Fairfield Farm managers reside on the property and are available to boarders, while jumper and dressage rings are engineered for safe, all-weather riding, including following heavy rains.
Each boarded horse also is evaluated and exercised daily throughout the year, she said, detailing that horses graze outside during daytime hours in the winter, and are brought into the cool barn during hot summer months where they are then turned out at night to enjoy irrigated grass paddocks.
“I want everyone here to enjoy their experience — the horses, the riders and the staff,” Johnson said. “I’m doing this for my own happiness and for the people around me."
23 stories explaining the Central Coast's history, landscape, and traditions from Judith Dale
Judith Dale has written several columns highlighting the culture, geography and history of the Central Coast. Get better acquainted with our beautiful slice of California with this collection of her work.
Recently we had relatives visiting from Kansas. Due to COVID-19, rather than doing the usual "touristy" things such as eating out, wine tastin…
Santa Catalina Island (usually called just Catalina) is the third largest of the California Channel Islands — only Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa a…
Originally, I was only going to write about the five islands in the Channel Islands National Park. However, some military personnel stationed …
This is the third and final article in a series covering the five islands that make up the Channel Islands National Park. The three remaining …
In my last article, I discussed the Santa Barbara Channel and its islands in general. This article will focus on two of five islands in Channe…
The Santa Ynez Valley is a wonderful place for children to grow up. We have excellent schools, churches, nonprofits and sports organizations t…
A neighbor who recently moved to the Santa Ynez Valley asked me about the Santa Barbara Channel and the islands she sees off the coast. I told…
So far we are good in Santa Barbara County, but until the first major rain, we are still in danger as our last major fires were during the months of November (Cave Fire) and December (Thomas Fire).
With over 4 million acres having burned so far this year in California, we have not had any major fires in Santa Barbara County. But with all the hot weather we have had and no rain in months, we are still in danger.
Due to arson or carelessness, 430,088 acres and 701 structures burned in these fires spanning 22 years.
We have the perfect setting for fires: thousands of acres of wilderness with rugged terrain and few roads; rainy winter weather that allows grass and brush to grow, followed by months of hot, dry weather; prevailing winds as well as sundowner winds; and people, who are the cause of most fires.
This new Space Force opens the way for Vandenberg to become a spaceport that can launch not only military missiles and satellites, but private and commercial projects as well.
La Purisima Mission is the 11th of the 21 missions founded in California.
At one time, Hollister and his partners, the Dibblee Brothers, owned all the land between Refugio Beach and Point Conception. They owned all the land grants around Point Concepcion, the Ortega family’s Refugio Grant, the La Purisima Mission lands and the San Julian Ranch.
What do Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos, the community of Sisquoc, the American army capturing the Santa Barbara Presidio in 1846, an elementary school and the Foxen Vineyard and Winery all have in common?
Las Cruses was a small community that no longer exists, but it has an important history.
The forest contributes nearly $103.4 million annual revenue to local businesses who gain from people visiting from all over the nation to hike, bike and camp in our mountains.
We often overlook and take for granted the importance of the river to our past development and more importantly to our future development and quality of life.
This is the bookend article to looking back at Buellton during the decade of the 1920s. This article looks at the establishment of Solvang during that same time.
Judith Dale discusses the two major events in the 1920s that set the groundwork for what the city of Buellton is today.
Judith Dale looks back to 1920, offering a timeline of progress the U.S. has made over the last 100 years. In most areas such as life expectancy, industry, technology, and position in the world, the U.S. has come a long way. However, many of the social/cultural challenges the country faced in the 1920s, are still with us today.
This month marks the 215th year anniversary of the Old Mission Santa Inés, established in September of 1804. The mission was officially named …
Photos: 2021 Solvang Fourth of July Parade
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Historically, sections of the El Camino Real was built by the Spanish to connect the 21 California missions. However, parts of it followed original Native-American routes used for thousands of years before the Spanish...