Bridlewood features horses in action for Garden Week

Published 8:57 pm Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bridlewood Estates Equestrian Center includes 63 acres of pastures with a stable that can house up to 24 horses.

At Bridlewood Estates Equestrian Center, it’s all about the horses during Suffolk’s Garden Week home tour.

Bridlewood, on Nansemond Parkway, serves as the equestrian center for an entire housing development and hosts riding lessons, horse training, summer camps and afternoon programs, said Betty Delk, chairman of the Garden Week tour.

The Christopher Newport University dressage team uses Bridlewood facilities and horses to train for competition.

Delk said visitors who are most excited about seeing horses on the tour will enjoy this site the most.

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“People who really came to see the horses, people who really want to see them in action” will love Bridlewood, she said.

Delk added it seemed natural to select the center for the tour because they already knew the contact for Bridlewood, Dave Christiansen, after they chose his farm Indian Point for the tour.

She said she thinks the tour is something the whole family will enjoy, especially families who want get involved with horses or have a child who is interested in them.

“I think every 12-year-old girl adores horses and wants to learn about them,” she said.

At Bridlewood, guests will get the opportunity to walk the stables, watch the horses in action and really get to know the horse community.

The center has 63 acres of open pastures and a commercial stable that can house up to 24 horses. Bridlewood also has walking and riding trails and an all-weather riding ring.

Additionally, Christopher Newport University’s dressage team uses the facility and some of the horses at Bridlewood for training.

During the tour, the CNU team will be doing dressage demonstrations at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. that will each last about 30 minutes, Bridlewood head trainer Tristin Hardy-Butler said.

Hardy-Butler said dressage is a type of training for horses that uses exercises to build strength and balance to improve their movement. She said it helps the horses gain more control over their bodies and build confidence in their movements.

The demonstrations will feature performances to music, individual routines and a quadrille, in which four or more horses move as one unit in different patterns.

Hardy-Butler said in addition to the demonstrations, there will be people, including the CNU team, out answering questions on the day of the tour. She added there will be horses out for guests to meet, pet and feed throughout the day.

She said they hope to accommodate all levels of horse enthusiasts, from people who own horses to those who have never ridden one.

“There should be a little something for everybody,” she said.

The Nansemond River Garden Club is hosting the tours as part of Virginia’s 78th Annual Historic Garden Week.

The Garden Week tours will take place April 17 from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale at The Suffolk Visitor Center, Smithfield-Isle of Wight Convention and Visitors Bureau, and A. Dodson’s on Bridge Road.

Adult tickets are $30, and children, ages 6 to 12, are admitted for $15. All children 5 years old and younger are free.