WAG Magazine: Manes and Tales
11:42 am By: Dana Ramos, April 10, 2019
Close enough to be seen from Interstate 684, but quietly cocooned in the countryside, Courtyard Farm is a jewel set on 31 rolling acres — a world unto itself. It was built in 1904 as the horse estate of Seth Lowe a former mayor of New York City. In 1970, nearly everything was destroyed by fire, and the stone barns were left as condemned ruins until a beautiful young widow with two babies, Kristen Carollo, bought the land in 2001 and began what would become a $2.5-million renovation. That was for the initial work. Major upgrades and features are added every year.
“My husband, Jerry Carollo, was a professional rider and trainer and we had planned to do this project together,” Carollo explains. “His sudden death from a heart condition sent me into shock and I abandoned the idea. After a year or so, kind of as a way to honor him and heal and move forward, I decided to do it.”
Carollo, who has a background in interior design, researched the town records and photos of the original buildings so she could properly plan new construction.
“I wanted everything to look the same aesthetically, yes have all the modern touches and installations.”
She cleared the rubble and restored the stone barns that envelop the courtyard like welcoming arms. One of the structures is a residence where she lives with her two now-teenaged boys.
“Then, in 2004, we were hit by lightning and a large part of the barn burned and I had to do it all over again. But insurance covered the costs that time.” All the structures are now outfitted with lightning rods.
Two dogs, wet from a pond escapade, bound around happily, while a horse pokes its head through his stall to take a look and a staff member carrying a baby appears in a doorway. Another, quite pregnant, walks past. Fertile land indeed.
“There are eight dogs that live here and some that come and go with workers, several ponies, staff who reside on the property with their kids. This place sometimes feels like a kindergarten,” Carollo says, laughing. “The miniature mule over there: See her trying to nudge her way into that shed? That’s Chiquita. She provides a lot of comic relief.”
Warm, inviting, youthful and bustling: But Courtyard Farms is also a serious business with top-notch facilities, including a 52-box stall stable, an 80-by-180-foot indoor riding area, with an attached viewing lounge featuring computer hookup, TV and cozy couches. Because a large part of the business involves award-winning ponies, it naturally attracts young riders, and the farm offers about 40 weekly private and group lessons and a summer riding program. There is also a strong core of dedicated adult and show riders taught by highly regarded trainers, who keep a closely guarded list of bold-face name clients, one or two prominent enough that they arrive with PSD – Personal security detail.
Carollo has generously protected most of the acreage with a conversation easement through the Westchester Land Trust, and has trails on the property that are part of the 100-mile Bedford Riding Lanes Association network, for which she is a board member.