By Julia Purdy
Those familiar with the West Creek Road in Florence will notice new activity at the former Silver Birch Equestrian Center location, formerly operated by Cheryl Hathaway. New owners Sarah and Justin McKeighan purchased 11 acres including buildings and riding ring May 30. The McKeighans have a lease-purchase agreement on another 150 acres, with the purchase to close in January 2020.
Renamed Trinity Stable & Arena, the property includes a boarding barn, attached indoor arena and outdoor ring.
A rainy day found Sarah McKeighan and a helper working with four of McKeighan’s own horses.
Trinity Stable & Arena is Sarah McKeighan’s lifelong dream. She had already lived the dream of many “horse crazy” young girls, learning to ride at her parents’ farm, Outback Acres, the old Davenport Farm on Furnace Road in Pittsford.
She studied dental hygiene at Vermont Technical College and worked at Heaton & Fisch for 5 years. Then this property became available.
“I went, ‘That would be awesome.’ I’d known Cheryl for five years,” McKeighan said.
Justin and Sarah had attended Lothrop School together and were high school sweethearts. They had been married and living in Pittsford for three years when the opportunity popped up. Their own house had been in Justin’s family for three generations. They sold it for more than they put into it even though they had made major improvements. They had not even listed it when friends from childhood snapped it up.
McKeighan quit her job to focus on developing the new business. She said she could continue to work as a fill-in, but for now there is too much to do with maintenance and repairs and “a facelift to make it our own.”
Justin is a carpenter, working for a local builder. He does most of the work on the property: siding, roof work, dealing with deferred maintenance in the 25-year-old facility. His boss’s niece boards a horse with the McKeighans, so “it’s a nice small circle of local friends,” McKeighan said.
The couple had considered various names. “Silver Birch Equestrian Center sounded a little too formal for me, I’m not a Western pleasure rider, I’m a barrel racer,” McKeighan explained. “In barrel racing there are three barrels: it’s my husband, my son and I, we’ve been married and in our house for three years, it’s all been building blocks to get here, so Trinity is like completeness, and a symbol of three.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t cater to other people, I’ve done horse shows before,” McKeighan hastened to add. She plans to offer lessons, boarding, training and summer camps. There is plenty of property to develop into trails. Currently riders use the spacious oval outdoor ring.
“Eventually it would be great to host our own jackpot barrel races or Gymkhana,” McKeighan said. “I grew up doing Gymkhana.”
The facility currently keeps 20 horses, including warmblood and draft crosses, Morgans, and Sarah’s four quarter horses.
There are six stalls in the indoor arena that need repair, and 15 well-designed stalls in the main barn. Hers and two of the boarders are “rough-boarded” and stay outdoors with a shed for shelter.
Trinity Stable & Arena is a sprawling complex, painted pale yellow with white trim and green metal roofs, two miles north on West Creek Road from Kendall Hill Road, the Omya truck route. The view looks west over lush green wetland toward High Pond Road and the Taconic Ridge.
The “horse thing” is Sarah’s dream come true, and the Florence location works for Justin as a good place for hunting and fishing and being outdoors.
McKeighan said she didn’t ever think it would happen, and she credits the family’s help and encouragement. The couple are planning a barbecue soon to bring family and supporters together.
“Horses are a good way to get people together,” she said.