the story of
Sandy Hoofs St. Lucia
horse back riding in
This page is under construction but feel free to read :)
Everything begins with a thought, a dream, a wish for something you hold dear to become a reality. Josh and I have always been passionate about horses. I grew up doing lessons in Trinidad during school holidays and naturally I couldn't wait for summer to roll around so I could spend my days at the stables immersing myself in all that was horse. Josh had it in his blood, his family rooted in horse racing, he was born with a natural passion and talent.
We met by chance, Josh is a farrier and had come to shoe some horses at Jericho Stables where I was managing. Our passion for horses drew us together and now we are married with three beautiful daughters Lily, Madilyn and Noa. Our dreams to own our own stables and horses are closely knit and have been bouncing around in our heads before we knew each other. Now together we decided this was fate and we would work as a team to achieve it. What better way to accomplish a life goal than with your soulmate.
We began writing down everything we thought important, all the details, drawing sketches of how it may look. Not a penny in the bank to even buy a horse but that didn't matter, we wanted to be ready if the money ever presented itself. Well the money never did show up but we decided life is too short to wait. We sold what we could, found us two broken down horses off the racetrack and one from my dear friend Lena. This was a good foundation to begin. There was no turning back, we packed up what we could afford to ship, and with family support for tickets and somewhere to stay we moved to Josh's island home of St. Lucia. A most magical island that I fell in love with and where we were married.
We had a great business plan, some horses, no land, no money and living off of Josh's parents. Change was most definitely needed! Thankfully it came just at the right time. Josh was offered a position to manage Morne Coubaril Estate in Soufriere and it just happened to have an old stables there too. Our stars were beginning to align. So we headed off to Soufriere, with horses and children in tow.
The estate in Soufriere was truly an enchanting place, every morning I'd wake feeling like we had travelled back in time to when life was a bit simpler and people were more kind. Here is where we began building our dream bit by bit. The old stables were built on good foundation and with a bit of hard work became a home for our horses. We had initially created our company as Sandy Hoofs St. Lucia but for a stables on an estate in Soufriere this didn't really fit. Cue the creation of "Morne Chouval" similar to the name of the estate Morne Coubaril. In the local creole dialect it means Mountain Horse and well if you ever visit Soufriere you'll see it's impossible to go anywhere without going up or down a hillside or a mountain. Estate life was wonderful and we made great friends and built good relationships with the surrounding hotels and tour operators. What could be missing right?
Well we always wanted to be able to share our passion and knowledge with anyone that was interested and not just focus on tourism. I missed being able to practice my dressage and jumping and we both knew how much the already talented local horsemen could benefit from a space to learn other forms of riding and horsemanship. Unfortunately building an arena would not have been possible as the layout of the land was not ideal and would have required a lot of work and the land was not ours.
Then in another “lets just do it” moment 2 years ago in June 2018 (June seems to be the month) we decided to open another branch and offered to rent an old stable up north. The north of the island was where we originally envisioned our stable to be located as there is a higher local and foreign market so we looked forward to the opportunity and saw it as a step closer to purchasing our own land. The property was a mess, but more importantly it had the old stable structure, so we built up some stalls quickly and moved some of our horses up north. The location is superb for tourist rides as it is close to the coastline and with the horses and staff already experienced on trails we began to market for bookings immediately. As rides started getting booked online and guests came back with great reviews we knew that we had made a good step in branching out to see our other possibilities. We decided to start prepping an area to use as an arena with the land being more suitable and got help from a friend to level and grade a spot next to the stable building. Unfortunately for us the landlord had plans for his land and soon after spread backfill all around the property, It was disheartening but a reminder to keep our focus on what was bringing in revenue at the time and looked forward to working with our bank towards purchasing our own land.
It was great to see the rides gradually grow in numbers and 2020 was shaping up to be a productive year. Discussions with our bank were positive and the possibility of our own land looked more possible. Then things got tough, in Feb our landlord demolished the building we used as a reception, bathroom and staff accommodation to make way for apartments and we had to scramble to build something quickly to be able to continue our service. Just as that completed COVID-19 lockdown hit and everything just screeched to a halt. Not only did the cash flow stop completely but we also had to try and refund guests that had previously booked. We had no idea how we were going to feed our horses and keep our team afloat with zero income. Thankfully we have gotten help from family and friends which keeps our horses eating and minimal staff on when we can. It has been scary times with all the unknowns and uncertainty but we are blessed to still be here.
St. Lucia has been opening up in stages and we look forward to being able to take guests out on tour again!. As we are not able to operate a school at our location we are also really focusing towards obtaining a forever home for our horses where we can really create a learning environment as well. We have the horses, the equipment and the knowledge to make it happen but just need the right spot.
If you’d like to help us please check out our GoFundMe link here and donate any amount you can. We fully appreciate any amount that we receive as it brings us one step closer to our goal.
Thanks and lots of Love from simply beautiful St. Lucia!
Keri de Freitas