Briarwood Farm, a long-running showground and equestrian business owned and managed by Katie Benson, will be closing its doors in Readington, N.J., on Nov. 30. The business, which includes boarding and training facilities and hosts B- and A-rated hunter shows throughout the year, will continue operating until its closing date.
Briarwood was established in 1975 and moved to its current Readington address 20 years ago. The property is owned by Paul Profeta, and Profeta has decided to place the entire 300-acre property into farmland preservation and eventually farm the land himself as an organic farm. Briarwood might have been able to stay on the property if the business was considered agriculture enough to be sustained on preserved land, Benson explained.
“The equine industry is only received with a lukewarm response from the farming concept of preserved land because we are considered agri-business,” said Benson.
Currently home to about 60 horses as well as the riding programs of both Rutgers and Drew Universities, Briarwood acts as a hub for a huge equestrian community. Where to take that business is a tough decision for Benson, who can relocate to a smaller property she owns in Hillsborough, N.J., downsize to a smaller location, or close entirely.
“I have a strong belief that people aren’t born knowing they enjoy horses. You have to have the opportunity to find out that’s what you love. There are less and less places where you can do that,” Benson said. “[Briarwood] is a special place because we can do lessons, boarding and showing at the same location. I have incredible horses, a great staff, and the brand that is Briarwood, but I have to make the choice that works for my family.”