Take me straight to the Photo Album!
Middlebrook Stables, a small farm boasting winning standardbred race horses as well as horse boarding. A piece of paradise nestled along the Grand River by Elora in Southern Ontario, we had the pleasure of spending some time here and participating in the farm life, hosted by Patricia Bolender and Stuart Bolender.
The farm life is a continuous motion of non-stop action and things to do. Whether it be tending to the array of diverse animals, mowing lawn, cutting hay, mending and painting fences, trimming trees, weeding flowerbeds, hosting visitors, and dragging race tracks, or the fantastic pleasure of sitting together for a meal at the end of a hard day, complete with lots of laughter and ample fresh food, the day is packed from sunrise to sunset – and often longer.
The pride of Middlebrook Stables are the competitive, beautiful Standardbred Race Horses. Pat and Stuart Bolender have been in the harness racing business for more than 50 years and their experience shines through in their pride and compassion. They prefer to not race horses before they reach 2 years of age. Although they no longer train the horses themselves, they are 100% involved in each of their horses and whenever possible, the horses are trained on their farm under their watchful eyes. Trainers are handpicked, not just by their performance record and knowledge, but also by the ability to empathise with the animal. What a winning combination!
The farm, located close to the touristic Art town of Elora, backs onto the beautiful Grand River. When time allows, it is wonderful to take a stroll to the river where you can see the abundance of fish in the sometimes fast running waters. An occasional canoeist paddles by or at times, a few people can be seen on the banks fishing. A wonderful trail system, Kissing Bridge Trail, is also in the area, offering tranquility for bikers and hikers alike.
In addition to horses, Middlebrook Stables is home to many other wonderful creatures. Miniature donkeys bray for breakfast and come to greet you whenever you walk by, hoping for a carrot treat. Chickens run freely on the grounds, and provide the household with eggs. Cats roam, taking the time to pause for a rub along your leg, before going off to assumedly hunt for mice. Birds are the Bolender hobby, specifically pheasants, many brightly coloured, but also peacocks, pigeons and unique chickens. Two fluffy rabbits, at first very shy, love to be fed lettuce and carrots, often times forgetting they are so bashful.
Work is never ending, there is always something to do and the energetic Pat and Stuart never stop. When you think the days work is finished, they seem to find something else to do – this happy duo are like the Energizer Battery bunny metaphor, they just keep going and going and going… 🙂
Mealtime on the farm is always a grand and wonderful time with an abundance of tasty food, great company and lots of laughter and chatter. The day is reviewed, horses and races are discussed, plans for vets, feed, race drivers, races, blacksmiths, and harness makers are debated as well as news and good banter are all part of a meal. The meal itself is always hearty – think farm fresh meat, potatoes and vegetables. Ice-cream and sometimes home-baked mennonite pie topped the end of a meal. We loved the barbecued steak with sweet corn on the cob with fresh garden salad, but everything served was delicious, right down to the breakfast bacon and eggs.
Evenings often found us sitting on the front porch, relaxing with a glass of wine and watching the beautiful sunsets, the hum of country music softly playing in the background. Sometimes a bonfire was built in the fire pit where we sat around in lawn chairs with grandchildren running around while weiners and marshmallows were roasted under the star filled night. Alternatively, a trip to the Mohawk Race Track to watch one or several of Pat & Stu’s horses race, cheering them on to the finish line.
Hard working, honest, caring and warm – that sums up the owners as well as the life at Middlebrook Stables in southwestern Ontario, Canada – you can bet on it! 😉
Of Possible other Interest:
Mohawk Racetrack – Standardbred Horses Harness Racing
Middlebrook Stables – Photo Album
Elora, Ontario – Horse racing and more
Kissing Bridge Trail – 45 km railway
Gorge Country Kitchen – Restaurant in Elora