KIM DAME Hernando Today correspondent
Published: December 26, 2012   |
Updated: May 7, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Location: 20052 Bowman Road, Spring Hill 34610
Telephone: (352) 796-0238
The banking crisis that led to the economic downturn cost Allen Bornscheuer his job. But like many who were forced to change direction on a dime, Bornscheuer looked to his passion for Saddlebred horses and turned it into a business. On a quiet 10 acres off Bowman Road near Masaryktown, Bornscheuer and his daughter, Cat, purchased an abandoned farm in foreclosure. Bornscheuer intended to gradually fix it up as a part time hobby and eventually build it into an income source. Four years later, Serenity Stables operates at full capacity as a facility where boarding, training and recreational equine-themed activities are common place. Every weekend, something is happening inside the arena, round pen or inside the covered barn. Just the weekend prior, Bornscheuer had hosted a birthday party for 12 little girls. Some had never been near a horse before. All were given 15 minute mini lessons on Dolly, Miley and Charlie Bay, all mature Saddlebreds who follow their handlers instructions perfectly. The party goers even made Tre, a bay Saddlebred with deep brown eyes, a decorative banner to hang over his stall. Tre participated in the party, eating many carrots and capturing the little girl's hearts. Bornscheuer's passion for horses, particularly Saddlebreds, began after he left the cold in New York and moved to Tampa, following opportunities in the banking industry. He started going to horse shows as a way to meet people. "The gym wasn't really my speed," he said, and he wasn't into golf. "The people were super, super nice," he said, "and they invited me out to their farm after the shows were over. I started riding and before long I was addicted." Bornscheuer began showing Saddlebreds in local shows and the addiction grew deeper. "I became something of a ham," he said. His enthusiasm only heightened as he got better at his craft. Bornscheuer now shows professionally. His daughter, Catherine, 18, shows in the amateur division. Bornscheuer introduced Cat when she was 4, and she was an instant natural. "She was addicted likewise and still is today, 14 years later," he said. But living in Tampa and boarding their horses became expensive, especially considering both were heavy into showing. So when it was time to purchase a property, it was Cat who suggested her father find something with land where they could keep their own horses. Bornscheuer hadn't planned on moving so far north. But when he stumbled on the 10 acres, complete with cozy farmhouse and an extensive set of stalls, he saw the potential. The farm had been a boarding business but had since become overgrown with weeds. It would take work to bring it back to its previous stature. But Bornscheuer was intrigued. He negotiated with the bank and closed on the deal. Serenity Stables is the home of 22 horses, 10 of which are customer boarders. The other 12 Bornscheuer owns, most of which are Saddlebreds. "Everything is long on a Saddlebred," Bornscheuer said, "long head, long neck, long legs, long body, long gate." Each horse has a certain personality that makes them unique. 24 year old Dolly, for instance, is mother to a small goat. She is used for beginner lessons because of her extensive training and because she knows her commands, often before her handler has a chance to say them. Dolly, Bornscheuer said, is emotionally attached to Stanley who is nicknamed Grouchy Man. "He's been grouchy all his life," Bornscheuer laughed. "We've got a few relationships here," he said. He described the Bachelor's Club where the young geldings tend to hang together. Bornscheuer described each horse with intimate detail, hinting that his love for horses, which he cares for each day, runs very deep. The main function of Serenity Stables, he said, is the riding lessons it provides to as many as 25 students a week. Students are as young as 4 and learn basic lessons up to show preparation. Bornscheuer also explained that camps during winter, spring and summer breaks are also very popular. "Each camp ends with a horse show for family and friends so that the kids can show off what they've learned during the week," he said. "Ribbons are awarded to every rider!" There is a whole Academy for showing, Bornscheuer explained. It involves riding barn owned horses for lessons, not expensive show horses. "That's how people start to show," he said. "All the Saddlebred barns in the Tampa Bay area cooperate in this Academy program." Shows are held in different places, from the Florida State Fairgrounds to area farms, like Serenity Stables. "There are at least 8 shows a year you can to go, from little barn shows to the big shows. And the kids have a blast doing it." Many eventually graduate out of the Academy and go on to compete in A-Circuit shows. That's where Bornscheuer and Cat compete. Serenity Stables also trains horses, from breaking to behavior training to performance skills like "popping" their feet, a Saddlebred specialty. Parties are another part of the Stables, providing an opportunity for groups like the Girl Scouts or other private parties to engage with the horses. They are a big hit, especially with kids who have never even been around horses. They learn to groom, saddle them up, and get a basic riding lesson. Bornscheuer is passionate about everything he does at Serenity Stables, from feeding to hosting parties to training. But teaching kids and watching them perform is a big part of what heightens his excitement. "Seeing them go from petrified to controlling this 1000 pound animal, and doing it with confidence, is my favorite part," he said. "I like to show and ride. But it's personally satisfying to see them doing it." Looking back over the process that brought Serenity Stables to this point, Bornscheuer realized just how amazing the ride has been. "If you can take your passion and make it your job, you're never really working," he said. The name, he explained, is significant. They wanted it to begin with the letter S because the curves in the letter sort of looked like the shape of a Saddlebred's head, neck and front leg. "We landed on Serenity," Bornscheuer began, "not because we wanted sleepy, serene horses, rather we preferred horses with spirit. What we did want was for our riders to be serene; to be calm, cool and composed. "This kind of rider is in control of their ride and of their horse. This kind of rider is a safe rider. This is what Serenity is all about." Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at Damewrites@yahoo.com.