Dynasty Farm’s future in doubt
LAKE IN THE HILLS – Christine Olsen is at Dynasty Farm every day. She rides and tends to the three horses she boards there.
Even though it costs more in rent, the Johnsburg resident moved her horses from a boarding facility in the McHenry-Prairie Grove area to the Lake in the Hills facility.
“I liked the plans for this barn,” Olsen said. “Just having so much more possibility for the space as far as the arenas, the possibility of having clinics and shows.”
But Olsen, along with those who have the six other horses boarded at Dynasty, might have to find a new place for their animals: The woman who runs the facility is planning to leave.
Jennifer Valenti, who manages Dynasty, has given the village six months’ notice that she will leave the municipal-owned barn because she cannot financially continue to run the business. Both she and village officials hope the property at 1109 Pyott Road continues as a horse facility.
Valenti has only nine horses boarded in the facility, at $500 a month each. Valenti had hoped to have 35 horses housed in the facility by the end of the year.
She said she has spent about $25,000 to buy materials such as limestone, wood and sand for the facility. Labor has been donated, and Valenti said she and her daughters aren’t taking a salary.
Valenti was in the process of converting the 57 stalls – which were 9-foot-by-9-foot – into 35 larger stalls at 9-foot-by-13-foot. However, she also had to add new footing, as stalls had large holes dug into them by previous horses. The previous tenant didn’t let the horses roam outside on the property, Valenti said.
“They pawed, dug holes into the flooring, leaving holes and ... chew marks on the wood,” Valenti said.
In one of the two indoor arenas on the property, Valenti has added new kickboards for safety and sand.
“That’s something I did on my own dime; the village didn’t request me to do it,” Valenti said. “In my mind, if I came in here as a boarder, and I saw that ... I’d be like ... ‘It’s not very safe.’ There are a few things I put in here, just trying to be a responsible business/horse person.”
She built additional fences in the paddock areas so the horses can be separated while they roam outside.
Valenti said she cannot attract more boarders unless she has more paddocks for horses to roam and be outside. To create paddocks, she would need to put up more wooden fencing.
“In order to build paddocks, it costs money, and I have no money left,” Valenti said.
Village Administrator Gerald Sagona said the village has spent $50,000 this year making repairs to the facility, including to paddocks, the gazebo, turf and trailers, as well as fixing arena doors, drainage, septic systems and lighting work.
When the property was unexpectedly vacated in February 2012, the village was left to secure and clean up the property, including taking away a large pile of manure, Sagona said.
The village used to bring in $4,600 a month in rent for the facility, and Sagona pointed out that Dynasty received discounted rental rates in the two-year lease agreement. The first four months were free. June through September is $1,000 a month. October through January is $1,500 a month. The second year of the lease was set to be $2,000 a month.
In return, according to the lease, Dynasty had to put in 75 tons of limestone to fill stalls by May 31. By Sept. 30, Dynasty has to repair the stalls and replace the automatic waterers.
With Valenti planning to leave, the village will continue to market the facility as a horse property.
“Hopefully we could get someone in there to run the facility in a fashion that is beneficial to the village and the person that is running the facility,” Sagona said.
Sagona added that someone was scheduled to tour the facility this week.
“We hope once the word is out, others will come forward,” Sagona said.
Valenti said the key to keeping the place running is finding someone who could invest more money into the facility and attract others to leave their current boarding facilities.
“I’m hopeful they could find someone to come in here who’s got another $40,000 to $80,000 to put into the place, and has a following who could come in here with 20 boarders right off the bat,” Valenti said.
She said she had a group of 13 people who were looking to leave their facilities and board horses at Dynasty.
“I offered them reduced rent and did backflips to get them in here,” Valenti said. “Unfortunately, their barn caught wind of it and promised them the world.”
Valenti said she advertised, to no avail, in horse publications to look for a trainer to work in the facility.
“My main thing is I needed to attract a trainer with a following, which means a trainer who would come in here with 15 to 20 people who would come with,” Valenti said.
Valenti said she does think the property can function as a horse boarding facility.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it, as hard as I tried and as much as I wanted it,” Valenti said. “The right person is out there, and I really hope they get that person in here, because it can be used as a boarding facility, and the people love it.”