Our crazy dream began in 1990 when we found our 43 acre parcel in Cecil County, Maryland, after a year long search throughout the tri-state area. Formerly a crop farm, we had the freedom to design and layout the farm to suit our needs. We were blessed to have the main barn exterior structure and the run-in sheds built by Stoltzfus Builders in Lititz, PA. At night and on the weekends, we finished the interiors. The bulk of the build for the barn and house occurred during the miserable winter of 1990/1991. The snow, ice and mud were absolutely epic! More than once, I sunk our truck fully loaded with lumber and fence posts into the mud. My late brother Stephen and Bob did all of the electrical work. Bob and a colleague from UD, did all of the plumbing work. As all farmers do, you develop lots of skills you never knew you needed!
Construction of our home began in January 1991 with lots of starts and stops due to poor weather. Our Amish barn builders however, persevered and finished on schedule! We welcomed our first clients in the summer of 1991. We also hosted a pig roast, to celebrate the end of major construction with 100+ of our family and friends, who helped and encouraged us. We were fortunate to be able to mine sand on our property which initially served as footing for the outdoor and indoor arenas over compacted clay bases. The upper left photo shows the mine site after it was back filled. The outdoor arena was constructed to the right of the mine pit. In 2001, the outdoor arena was completely rebuilt by Arena Works Inc. in Lancaster, PA. We also purchased and installed the inner PVC dressage arena. Initially we mixed shavings with the indoor sand footing for more loft. Several years later, we stripped out the indoor and prepared a proper base to which we added masonry sand and Permaflex rubber. In 2008, the indoor got a complete redo, again by Arena Works Inc.
By late summer in 1993 we had completed outfitting the barn and were ready to have the first run-in shed built. Once again, we called upon Stoltzfus Builders who completed the build on September 15th. September 27th began as a perfectly gorgeous day. I was working in the fields when suddenly a dark ominous wall cloud moved over the tree line followed by a tornado moving toward the main barn. Without thinking I cried out to God for help, and He answered! The tornado changed track missing the barn and house, taking out the new run-in shed with three horses inside. Miraculously, the horses were completely unscathed! The N.W.S later confirmed it was an EF-1 tornado. Thankfully, our insurance company swiftly replaced the shed, and we were able to build a second shed from the rubble. In 2020, both sheds received a well-deserved extension and renovation. A large run-in shed spanning both upper fields, was constructed in 2001. 2020 was a momentous year for us as Bob retired from his 42-year career as a scientist and professor at the University of Delaware! Bob jumped into retirement by building a 2-story workshop and meeting space. A.S.K. Builders of PA, did a wonderful job constructing the exterior shell and Bob outfitted the interior.
September 28, 2021 begins the 45th installment of Dressage at Devon. I look back on our 20+ years of participation with such gratitude and joy. Devon remains one of the largest sport horse breeding shows in the US and one of the largest in the world. Devon was crucial in enabling us to grow, improve and promote our breeding program. To learn more about our breeding journey click here.