Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stable opens with new owners

People in the horse business around Stoughton will probably recognize Foxfield Stables as something new in the neighborhood. They’ll also recognize the new stable in town as one of the most well-known horse operations in the area as the former Stiklestad Stables.

Stiklestad Stables was operated for years by the Henry “Hank” Stikelstad family. Its location north of Stoughton on a sweeping curve made it a “can’t miss” landmark for anyone heading out of town to Lake Kegonsa. Tourists and townsfolk alike recognized the setting.

Now, the Stiklestad family has left the horse business and the location is in new hands. Jesse and Andrea Nelson with their six-year-old daughter Natalie in tow bought the stable in the summer of 2010 and began picking up where the former owners left off.

“Hank has been out here a couple of times,” Jesse said. “We asked if we could leave the “Stiklestad Stables” on the barn and he said ‘sure.’”

From what Jesse and Andrea gather, Hank and his family are genuinely pleased to see the place carry on with horses. There was some cleaning up and fixing to do but today it is Foxfield Stables and Jesse and Andrea are busy bringing business back and developing plans of their own.

There’s space for 22 horses in stables and room for more in rough board. As of March, they were boarding 15 horses with nine more expected to start rough board in April. Andrea also is developing a group of people for lessons and they have three horses of their own.

Even though the facilities are seasoned, everything was well built. Stables ring the small but workable indoor arena. There’s enough land for pastures, paddocks and making some hay. Boarders do have access to the adjacent Kegonsa State Park where they can use the park’s road system.

“Horses have road rights in the park. There aren’t any actual riding trails but as long as riders are on the roads they can go over there,” Andrea said. “We’re not going to offer any trail riding because the insurance issue is just too much.”

Andrea mentioned the location is not only well known in the community, it’s also easy to get to from Madison which helps access equine-minded people. “We’re about three miles from Stoughton and only about a 10 minute drive on the interstate from the east side of Madison,” she said.

Facilities are rounded out with outdoor riding areas, wash racks, locking tack room and a heated viewing area next to a small office. Much of the outdoor fencing was replaced with electric tape with wood posts.

“We cut and hauled a lot of brush away to get the fences and pastures ready. And when we first went in the barn we found all the doors off the hinges on the stables. We had to go around and hang and repair almost every stable,” Jesse added.

Even with so much ongoing work restoring the facilities and managing business, Jesse and Andrea have an eye on the future. Plans are underway to add a larger more modern riding arena. There’s also room to grow the riding lesson business and provide other services.

“We take care of each horse. Every horse is a little different: different feeds, different supplements, different breeds and each one has its own personality. So we want people to come out and enjoy the time they spend with their horses,” Andrea said. “We’re in a nice spot here and I think people are going to continue to want to have horses and a place they can go and ride.”

Certainly if you’re starting a new business it helps to have a solid old brand name to build from.
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