Dressage barn a dream come true
A 100-acre organic farm in Lynden has been transformed into a state-of-the-art equestrian centre, which strictly caters to the discipline of dressage.
Owned and operated by Linda Rawlinson and her husband, John, the creation of HollyOaks Farm has been a longtime dream of the Ancaster couple. Formerly of England, Rawlinson pursued riding and tried her hand at dressage when she moved to Canada 12 years ago.
With her children off at university, it was the perfect timing for the couple to dabble in a project that would keep them busy for years to come.
When Rawlinson first stumbled upon the Powerline Drive property, she fell in love. The farm’s location was perfectly suited to house a 24-stall barn fitted with topnotch equine equipment and technology.
“I wanted a facility dedicated to dressage,” said Rawlinson, “So we decided that we would look for our property and build our own.”
Every detail at HollyOaks was planned to ensure the superior comfort of the horses and their owners. Housed in custom- made stalls with comfort-plus flooring, horses enjoy luxurious humidity-controlled quarters, which are outfitted with casting rails, automatic drinkers, and ceiling fans.
While the horses benefit from their accommodations, clients train with professional equine trainers, Neil and Cindy Ishoy. Cindy, a six-time Olympic competitor and Neil, a talented three-day eventer, are well respected in the dressage ring.
“Our goal is to produce Olympic-calibre horses here,” said Rawlinson. And so far, the combination of state-of-the-art facilities, renowned trainers and hardworking riders and their horses has proven that the owners’ goal is attainable.
“There is nothing more rewarding than to see a partnership form between horse and rider at any level,” said Cindy. “Riding a horse successfully is a relationship built on trust, harmony and respect.”
Clients who board and ride dressage at HollyOaks come from throughout the greater Toronto region, noted Rawlinson. Riders from overseas have also booked time at the facility to train with the Ishoys.
Reveling in the moment that her dream of owning a dressage facility has come true, Rawlinson is thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside talented tradespeople from the local area.
The facility, designed and built by Dutch Masters, earned the Rawlinsons t two 2007 Canadian Farm Builders Association awards. “We renovate the hay barn to its original configuration. We won the overall (Canadian Farm Builders Association) competition for 2007 and we are very proud of it,” said Rawlinson.
“I just think the whole package is very good,” she said of Holly Oaks Farm. “They (the Ishoys) have everything that they need for an optimum training facility and we (HollyOaks Farm) have the best trainers.”
As for the origin of the farm’s name, Rawlinson confessed that she’s always liked the name Holly, that there is a place in her native country called Holly Oaks and that the name and Lynden property reminded the couple of their former home in England.
The training centre hosted its official opening celebration over the weekend. Dignitaries, including MP David Sweet and MPP Ted McMeekin, were on hand for the festivities.
“We’ve really enjoyed restoring the farm and it will last our lifetime here,” said Rawlinson.
Further information on HollyOaks Farm and details on clinics hosted by the Ishoys are available online at www.hollyoaks.ca or by calling 519-647-0363.