Grove Farm And Sun Valley Offer 30 Days Of Paradise For Winning Bidder
Of Debbie McDonald Auction Package At Celebrate With The Champions
FL April 26, 2004 Summer is the most popular
time for people to come to River Grove Farm because its an
unbelievable place at that time of year, not just for riding but
for families as well, states Jane Thomas, daughter of Peggy
and Parry Thomas the farm owners and sponsors of Debbie McDonald
and her Olympic-hopeful dressage mount Brentina. As a team fundraiser,
McDonald has offered for auction a months training with her
at River Grove Farm including board for a horse and accommodations
at a condominium in Sun Valley, Idaho. The auction is set for June
19 at Celebrate With The Champions, a fiesta benefiting
the USET Foundation at the Dressage Olympic Selection Trials in
San Juan Capistrano, California.
high bidder will not only train with one of the worlds top
riders, but also experience an extraordinary horse farm as well
as a months vacation in a renowned resort town. River
Grove Farm is part of the greater mountain area and there are so
many activities we have beautiful alpine lakes, water skiing,
bike riding, mountain biking, and people come from all over to hike
in the Sawtooth Mountains, points out Jane. The Wood
River is one of the premier fishing rivers in the country and a
favorite for fly fisherman. Were part of a system here thats
quite natural. We had 70 elk winter in our backyard this year. And
of course with Sun Valley Company, there are many summer concerts
and the Summer Symphony. The summer weather is beautiful
a little crisp in the morning and then 75 to 80 degrees virtually
every day. Its beautiful riding weather. The farm is very
pretty we have manicured grounds and many gardens.
and Parry Thomas of Las Vegas, Nevada, have owned the 80-acre property
on the Wood River for more than 30 years. They completed construction
of River Grove Farm in 1981. Peggy and Parry have a house near the
stables and also one in Sun Valley to be near the skiing in winter.
Jane and her husband Peter Sturdivant built their home at River
Grove in 1996 and live there year-round with her son Christopher
Nielson. Its a small farm its not a huge
riding facility, explains Jane. There arent going
to be many people riding the same time as whoever wins this auction.
We usually have one person in the dressage arena at a time because
we like it that way. There arent other trainers its
just us, because it is a small private facility.
and Jane Thomas originally rode hunters with Bob and Debbie McDonald
in California in the late 1960s. Peggy switched to dressage, and
eventually Jane and Debbie did too. Bob, who is still actively involved
in the hunter/jumper world, trains hunter riders that trailer in
to River Grove for a week or two, and Debbie also periodically has
students trailer in for dressage lessons.
have two dressage arenas and one large hunter/jumper ring that
we use as well because it occupies a few acres and its
nice to ride without corners, explains Jane. The
newest arena we call The Brentina Arena. We built
it specifically for a performance last year that Debbie did
with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, which is a 100-piece orchestra.
She rode Brentina in a Freestyle. We raised hundreds of thousands
of dollars for the Sun Valley Symphony. It was quite the event
there were almost 800 people here. The Brentina
Arena is an outdoor ring with a two-foot wall around it planted
in summer annuals with Carbonit Mountain in the background.
Apart from training in a spectacular outdoor arena, the lucky
high bidder will also have the opportunity to trail ride in
splendor. We have walking trails that go through the woods
and along the river we usually walk our horses out on
these trails after were done training. They all have shavings
on them for footing. Its a nice way to cool your horse
down after you ride and give him a chance to just be a horse
again. Jane notes that if the rider is a skier, she will
most likely choose winter to come to Sun Valley, and that River
Grove Farm has a large indoor arena.
winner of the auction can design her own schedule at River Grove.
Most visiting riders choose to start in the morning by observing.
They like to get here early to watch Debbie ride her horses.
She usually starts about 7:30. Right now she is doing two or three
Felix, Donatello, and Brentina. She doesnt have any
inside riders at the farm right now because of the Olympic year.
If Debbie is helping Peggy or Jane, she rides their mounts to school
upper level movements. Jane has been training with the McDonalds
since she was 10 years old. Debbies concentration is
just unbelievable. She technically rides every step with you and
really works you. She gives the best lesson. Jane had the
opportunity to ride the late Beaurivage, one of Debbies Grand
Prix mounts. Its the most incredible feeling to ride
a horse that shes trained because they are so sensitive to
the aids. A lesson with Debbie is about 45 minutes.
high bidder will also enjoy a months stay in a one-bedroom
condo that Peggy and Parry bought in Sun Valley for visiting family
members Jane has four brothers and a host of nieces and nephews!
The condo also has a Murphy bed in the living room to accommodate
additional guests. Its right in the Sun Valley village
so its nice for other members of the family because they can
ride their bike absolutely anywhere, into the village or down to
Ketchum, which is the town that Sun Valley is in, explains
Jane. Our farm is 10 miles away but its just a 15-minute
drive on the highway. Sometimes people ride a bike from Sun Valley
to the farm because its all downhill, but then someone comes
to pick them up and drive them back! she noted with a laugh.
is accustomed to hosting visitors. Its amazing how many
people visit this farm from all over just because theyve heard
that this is where Debbie is. But the farm is also famous
for its gardens. People come just to walk through the gardens.
River Grove has a unique beauty to it, being an alpine area. Its
not your typical horse farm. In fact, River Grove Farm has
been featured in publications such as Fine Gardening, Sun Valley
Magazine, and Sun Valley Home an art and architecture magazine.
Every three years, Jane opens her gardens to the public as a community
fundraiser. Its one of the larger properties in the area that
has formal and wild gardens. Three acres of cultivated gardens surround
Janes home and another three acres of plantings are interspersed
at the farm. There are surprise gardens
as you walk to the rings, theyre everywhere. Most of the farm
is forested with dogwood, cottonwood, Aspens, and alder its
the natural forest that runs along the Wood River Valley.
Jane has a background in art and it shows in her garden designs
she created a Bird Walk Garden with a large stone
wall planted in sedum on top to separate it from the woods. All
my bird houses are in the forest and line the garden, which takes
you down to the riding trails. In front of it is my vegetable garden
its a Victorian, gated, raised garden thats very
formal. Its on a parterre scheme so it has a geometric rhythm
to it. Other unique plantings at River Grove include a White
Garden and 600 espaliered apple trees that create a natural
fence to keep horses on the bridle path and out of the gardens.
We have lots of ponds, so we have lots of water gardens as
is looking forward to sharing River Grove Farm and Sun Valley with
the auction winner. People will enjoy this area, whether theyre
snow skiers or whether they come for the summer hiking or in the
fall for bird hunting it just depends on which season the
person prefers as far as other activities. She is also pleased
to contribute to Debbies fundraising plan. Its
a fabulous idea. There are people who tell me all the time that
theyd love to come and train with Debbie, so when she told
me her idea, I thought it was a slam-dunk. My father
added the condominium we thought it would be a nice vacation
/ riding experience for the person fortunate enough to be the high
bidder and a great way to raise money for the USET Foundation.
And Celebrate With The Champions Ticket Information
attend the live auction of the Debbie McDonald Training Package
and Celebrate With The Champions, tickets are $100 each.
Drink tickets will be available at $5 each at the party. For reservations,
contact Jane Brown at email@example.com or fax to 760-438-3873.
participate in the Debbie McDonald Training Package auction via
telephone on June 19, bidders must register first by contacting
Mason Phelps, Jr. at Phelps Media Group, Inc. via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.