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The Stable Life at Ave Maria Reaches a Fork in the Trail

gateSince there early days of the town of Ave Maria, The Stable Life at Ave Maria has been one of those things that was always there, with a barn, horse stalls and a corral between the Middlebrooke neighborhood and Camp Keais Rd.

But the days of the stable's life in that location are numbered, and the rapid expansion of the Maple Ridge community has disrupted its operations and caused owner Katie O'Hare to begin planning sooner than she expected to relocate to another part of town.

The most immediate impact came earlier this year, when Miss O'Hare found that access to the stables on a dirt road from Ave Maria Blvd. was barred by a gate that was padlocked. That meant the only way to the stable from the town required going out Pope John Paul II Blvd. to Camp Keais Rd. and then south to the entrance, a route that is unsafe for bicycles and golf carts. (Right, Miss O'Hare behind the locked gate leading to the stables)

Ave Maria Development had to close the road, said the company's Cee Cee Marinelli, because of an imminent construction project to extend Anthem Parkway from the Del Webb entrance to Roma St. in Maple Ridge. "It's a major project, and no contractor would take the risk of having people cross it," she said.

The stable's current location was always intended to be temporary, Miss O'Hare said, since she opened it in 2008 before graduating from Ave Maria University. She has offered trail rides, riding lessons and horse boarding as well as organizing a drill team that appears at events such as parades and the AMU equestrian team, a club sport that is the only AMU athletic team to compete at the Division I level. (Below, Miss O'Hare leading riders to the trail)

"I think the stable has been a real asset to the town," she said, "especially since there are not a lot of activities for kids. In addition to the riding we hold bonfire events that attract 300 people."

trailride-350As the only stable of its kind in the area, she said it also has influenced some people's decisions to live in Ave Maria. "I know for a fact that at least eight houses were sold in town to people who liked the idea of having a stable nearby."

Now, Miss O'Hare's focus is on where, and how soon, she can relocate the stable. The most likely location is a 76-acre parcel of land that both she and Ms. Marinelli said has been donated to Ave Maria University for use as an equestrian facility.

Miss O'Hare said that she has begun drawing up plans, has discussed the situation with university officials, and hopes to begin fundraising soon so that a permanent facility can be built. Her goal is to raise the money independently, without any financial assistance from AMU.  She invites anyone interested in supporting the effort, financially or otherwise, to get in touch by sending email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

"I love it here, and I don't want to give up," Miss O'Hare said. "I know how many lives the stable has touched, and I know how many lives I want to touch. They say when God closes one door another opens."

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