When Linda and Derek Hart first set their sights on Walgrove Ranch, it appeared nothing was really being used for its true purpose.
The stables had been used as bullpens, water was flying off the roof and going everywhere except into the tanks, while possums, rats and other unwelcome wildlife had taken up home in the barn.
The couple, originally from Yass, were looking for somewhere they could live with their horses.
“We had gone out to see Walgrove but it was a bit too run down – there looked to be too much work to do there,” Linda said.
“Then, we went back one last time to see it and … we bought it.”
Over the past five years, Linda and Derek have brought the Manton property back to life “little by little”.
“First we fixed the barn, put in some more water tanks so the water had somewhere to go. Then we stripped back the arena because someone had put sheep in it.’
Once all the major work had been done and the property deemed safe for horse and rider, the word spread about this great new equestrian facility near Yass.
Since then, thousands of people and their horses have visited, either for one of Linda’s riding clinics, training or agistment. They’ve come from all over the state to take advantage of the only undercover arena of its kind in the region.
Linda, who says she fell in love with riding at age four on her rocking horse, is an expert in reigning, or Western riding.
“I got my first pony at age 10 and have been riding ever since. Later on, I’d ride with my daughter Sarah – we go to shows together and have such a lot of fun.”
For Linda and Derek, it’s always been about the horse and rider. They’ve earned themselves an excellent reputation in the horse world for the care they take with both animals and humans.
“What we’ve always wanted is for people to feel at home when they come here. Riding can be hard, especially if they’ve been at a clinic all day. What we try to do, is make the whole thing more pleasant for them. We’ve been through it all ourselves, we know what it’s like, how hard it can be working with horses.”
But after five years running Walgrove at Manton, Linda and Derek have put the property on the market. It was a hard decision to make, especially when many of their clients burst into tears at the news.
But what they won’t miss will be the 12-hour days, from cleaning out stables, feeding and letting the horses out first thing, to making sure all is secure by the end of the day, including the horses on agistment.
The existing stables can hold up to 18 horses, but the property has had up to 28 at a time in the stables and outside in the yards.
“We’ve loved being here, but I’m 68 now and Derek is not that far behind me. We want to move closer to where our daughter is at Delegate, and our grandchildren. We want to make some memories with them. We’ll go on to a small acreage and I’ll take my two horses and two ponies for the grandchildren.”
The property went on the market late last month and there has been strong interest.
“We hope that whoever buys it will continue doing what we’ve done. We’ve had some wonderful people come through here and some beautiful horses.”
Linda said one of the fondest memories she’ll take with her comes from not long after they opened for business.
“I saw this ad a lady had put on Facebook saying she was desperately looking for agistment.
“I just wanted to help. The next thing, three women came over with nine horses and they fell in love with the place and brought their horses the next day. Their horses ended up staying here for quite a while.”
Walgrove Ranch, 9 Walgrove Road, Manton, will be auctioned on-site on 4 December at 2:15 pm through McGrath Canberra.