Small Business Startup: St. Lawrence Stables

Photo by BRIANNA WEST

     Many small businesses in the north country start when a person finds their passion in life and wants to share it with their communities, and that is exactly what led one Cape Vincent resident to follow her dreams.

     Whitney Roberts has been riding Morgan horses since the young age of five and has competed successfully in horse shows across New York, New England and at the Morgan Grand National Championship show in Oklahoma City as a saddleseat equitation rider. After gaining her degree in education, and having a successful career as an elementary teacher, she decided in August 2018 that she would again follow her passion and opened St. Lawrence Stables in Cape Vincent. “Horses have always been my passion and a part of my life,” said Roberts. “I have always had the goal of owning a stable in order to have the opportunity to promote the Morgan horse breed and its versatility, as well as provide a safe and comfortable environment for others to board their horses and take riding lessons.”

     And that’s exactly what she did, but with a focus still on the educational aspect. She explained that just as with teaching elementary school, working with horses teaches her students (young and old) dedication, communication, patience, perseverance and hard work.

     Roberts says that she attracts clientele who have a passion and love for horsemanship and horses, or that want to learn more about the Morgan breed and the relationship that you can gain when working with horses.

     “We currently have horses and riders of all disciplines and ages who have become members of our “barn family” and enjoy learning from each others experiences and backgrounds. My personal passion is showing Morgan horses and teaching equitation (which is a discipline of horse showing where the rider’s position, horsemanship, posture and ability are judged while they are riding their horse) so I am always interested in welcoming new horses and riders who share this common interest, or are interested in becoming involved with the Morgan breed,” she said.

     Only a year into her business Roberts is already looking toward the future, partnering with Laurel Leiendecker of Thousand Islands Hunters & Jumpers to expand her lesson and training offerings into the hunter/jumper realm of horse showing. And with a property that holds 11 stalls for boarding, with a 60 foot by 100 foot indoor arena, 75 foot by 120 foot outdoor arena and almost 20 acres of pasture, there is room to facilitate many different aspects of riding.

     “Greg and Jen Calhoun of Absolute Landscape and Construction LLC, built and helped design the indoor arena, as well as all of the new and future construction and landscaping we have planned,” said Roberts. “I frequently work with small business consultants in the area to help manage and organize the business aspect of running the stable.”

     She continued that the care and management of the horses is a result of her past experiences.

     “I have spent most of my life working with many other horse farm owners locally and across New York state, helping with and observing the daily management of their facility, horses and lesson programs. This has provided me with a lifetime of learning opportunities, and hands on experiences that contribute to the care and management of my farm today,” said Roberts, “and I have also assembled an excellent support team of equine veterinarians, farriers, equine dentists, chiropractor, etc. who all play a major role in the health, care and performance of our horses at the stable.”

     With resources aligned and St. Lawrence Stables off to a solid first year, Roberts says that she hopes to continue to promote the Morgan breed by encouraging others to learn the loyalty, personality and versatility of the horse. And that in the future she would like to build a competitive team of equitation riders to compete in both local and regional shows.

     But it’s not just the business that Roberts has in mind, she also has a passion for community and wants to begin to share equine educational experiences at care clinics, lectures and workshops from equine professionals for more seasoned horse owners and riders, as well as host activities and day camps that would give young horse enthusiasts hands-on opportunities to learn about horses, horse care, riding and showing, as well as hosting fundraising or benefit group rides and horse shows.

~Holly Boname