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Old West Meets New Luxury

Old West Meets New Luxury

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Published by: Katie Johnson Rohman on Mar 18, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Old West meets new luxury
 Doug Martinez, barn manager and Western instructor at Concord Ridge EquestrianCenter, is silhouetted in the entryway of the indoor arena. Martinez has more than 30 years of experience in horse training. Photo by Katie Rohman
“Everyone said, ‘if you build it, we will come.’”Ron Schults made good on his promise, and so did the area horse community, when heopened the Concord Ridge Equestrian Center outside St. Joseph earlier this year.The owner of the 40-acre facility said it is his answer to an unmet demand.“There are people known to drive two hours to a proper boarding stable,” Schults said.“This keeps money in southwest Michigan.”Concord, however, is much more than a boarding stable. Billed as the biggest suchfacility in the Midwest, Concord boasts two outdoor show areas; two round training pens; pasture boarding; a tack room; upstairs lounge with two balconies, a bunkroom,apartment, full bath, bar and kitchen; a conference room; a VIP section on one side of theindoor arena; and 44 stalls from 12-by-10 feet to 12-by-15 feet and 24 stalls with privateturnouts. It offers lessons, boarding and training. It has four renowned trainers with animpressive list of credentials in the equestrian world.
The center, valued at $6 million, doesn’t stop there. It is incorporating housing on bothsides of M-139 in Royalton Township — 13 “equestrian lots” are available on theConcord side of the highway, allowing horse owners to be literally in a horse community.Schults plans to further develop the other side of the highway into a commercial andresidential hub.
‘A state-of-the-art facility’
Schults, remarkably, has little experience riding horses.“My daughter got into horses when she was 4 — six years ago,” Schults said.
Youth can be seen at Concord Ridge participating in camps, lessons and clinics. It alsooffers internships. Photo by Katie Rohman
During this experience, he learned that local horse owners and riders were looking for something different.Other boarders had the “same vision for a large, modern facility that serves the parent,”Schults said. “…A state-of-the-art facility.”Schults wears many hats, and equestrian center owner is another venture added to hisresume.An engineer by trade, Schults is the owner of St. Joseph-based Edgewater Resources,which deals in international marina and waterfront consulting and real estate brokerageand development.After his wife, Dr. Lory Schults, was killed in a car accident in 2004, he helped establishLory’s Place, a family service center in St. Joseph for grieving families.
He served as chairman of the St. Joe Kickers indoor soccer facility expansion project. Heowns and operates the Elks building in St. Joseph.“I’m really focused on things primarily with my kids,” Schults explained.Concord has created 20 to 30 jobs, including interns, trainers, veterinarians and other  professionals.“You have so many things it impacts,” he said.And that impact is important to Schults, who believes the equestrian industry is a selling point for Michigan tourism.“There’s a million boats in Michigan and 8 million people,” he said. “This is just awonderful place to hang out. Unfortunately, the industrial era is over. The state needs tofocus on our natural resources.“To me, this is all part of the transition,” Schults explained. “We are part of this entire‘Pure Michigan’ era. What are we going to be when we grow up?”
‘We’re completely complementary to the fair’
About 2,000 people attended the Concord open house July 30, a testament to the area’scuriosity about the sprawling facility along M-139.Contrary to common perception, the vast majority of boarders and students at Concordlive within close driving distance. In fact, local youth trained at the facility for theBerrien County Youth Fair in Berrien Springs in August.The fairgrounds — where hundreds of horses congregate each year for fair events — isalso the future home of the Expo Arena, another large equestrian facility. The difference between the Expo and Concord is that the latter is a long-term boarding facility, whereasthe Expo will host national equestrian events.“We’re completely complementary to the fair,” Schults said. “We are a specialty, boutique, private facility. This is extended stay. Our boarders are here year-round.“With their project, more of these places are going to need to be built,” Schults said.And what Concord has to offer is what the Expo’s users are looking for: professionaltrainers, upscale boarding and various educational opportunities.One of Concord’s employees — barn manager and head Western instructor DougMartinez — is a “nationally recognized cowboy,” Schults said.

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