Since the age of six, Kimberly Farrell has been a horse and pony enthusiast—so much so that her parents built an entire venue around her passion. Today, Farrell enjoys an equestrian's dream job as an owner/operator of the family-run Fox Lea Farm in Venice.
About the Facility
The 46-acre facility is a year-round economic driver for Sarasota County, famed for its stellar arena, shows, camp and schooling opportunities that draw competitors and students from all over the world. Fox Lea is home to 12 pointed AQHA shows yearly (six of which are held in January during the Fox Lea Farm Winter Circuit—the prestigious quarter horse show that brings exhibitors from across the country). Fox Lea has also hosted the spring Florida Super 8 Appaloosa Show Circuit for two decades, and the farm even showcases quarter horse shows produced by the Florida Quarter Horse Association and Edmondson Management. To expand the farm's universal appeal, Aldrich launched a camp in 1995 with themes, arts and crafts, and scavenger hunts (an annual attraction that now draws about 700 campers and their families).
In total, Fox Lea accommodates 38 weekends of horse shows, manages and produces nine A-rated hunter/jumper shows, and awards more than $360,000 to its exhibitors every year. Most recently, the farm's 31st AQHA Fox Lea Winter Circuit in January was recognized as the first Western dressage show for the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).
In Farrell's words: "We believe—from the variety of shows we produce—that we meet the needs of everyone, from the grassroots to the experienced A-circuit riders."
Farrell understands the needs of riders because she is one. She has competed at several levels of American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) shows, and she was the AQHA Reserve World Champion in Amateur Equitation Over Fences in 2004. These qualifications, combined with her business and marketing acumen, make Farrell a tremendous asset at Fox Lea Farm as the horse show and facility manager.
The Facility's History
Linda Aldrich, Farrell's mother, is a former physical therapist and the current president of the farm, which she developed in 1983 with her husband, David.
At the time, there was an unfilled need for safer show facilities. It was commonplace to see stalls with uneven clay flooring, no warm-up areas, temporary toilet facilities, and dangerous rings with poor footing and drainage. So Fox Lea was developed as a safe alternative to the status quo—a space with 254 solidly built permanent stalls, a grand prix ring, three additional show rings, four practice rings, and an indoor arena. It was attractive to riders seeking more amenities, and it comforted the Aldriches to know that their young daughter would always have a clean, sturdy place to practice.
Just two years after opening, Fox Lea Farm held its first A-rated hunter/jumper competition. Four years later, the farm welcomed some of the first international dressage shows, featuring qualifying classes for the World Cup and the Olympics. Currently, the farm specializes in non-rated schooling shows, sanctioned grand prixes and United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Zone 4 Finals.
During its 32 years in business, Fox Lea Farm has developed a tremendous reputation for professionalism, cleanliness and safety. Industry standards have been raised and a true family vision has been realized.
Fox Lea Farm, Inc.: 800 N. Auburn Road, Venice, 941-809-6365; foxleafarm.com.
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