Rancho Santa Fe’s Fairbanks Riding Club upgrade completed


By Karen Billing


Fairbanks Riding Club recently completed the biggest renovation in the club’s 27-year history, completely redoing its barn. A somewhat hidden secret within the Fairbanks Ranch community, the boarding facility, which is open to non-Fairbanks Ranch residents, prides itself on being a welcoming, family-friendly place.

“We want everybody here to feel really comfortable, whether they are pleasure riders, competition riders, boarding a horse or just taking lessons,” said Susan Ellner, club president since December 2010.

Currently, the club is home to 44 horses with 12 openings in its brand new barn.

The club’s big remodel began in March, demolishing the old barn in four days. Tammy Pillette, MD Barnmaster of Southern California, and Randy Baker’s Baker Quality Construction put in new stalls by MD Barns and removed one stall to create a breezeway to help keep the barn cool and ventilated. The stalls feature a unique yoke-style guard instead of doors to allow horses to hang their heads into the aisle of the barn, as well as 10-inch concrete curbs, a new trend in the industry that prevents rusting at the bottom and promotes a longer life for stall walls.

They kept some charming fixtures from their old barn, but updated the watering system and added grills between most stalls to allow horses to socialize.

The club now has 36 stalls and 20 outside corrals with cover. They have three arenas, including a mirrored dressage court, three turnouts, a European walker, full groom and care service and hand grazing. As the club is within a gated community, the location is very secure and they also have a resident nightwatch.

The club has trail access to the San Dieguito Riverbed and a trail through tree-lined Fairbanks Ranch, including a loop around the community’s lake, home to a few resident swans.

“The trail is absolutely gorgeous, you couldn’t find a more beautiful trail,” said recent past-president Cauleen Glass, who frequently takes advantage of the trail with her boarding horses.

“What we sell here is just a really lush, park-like setting. It’s very peaceful and serene,” agreed Ellner. “Time stops here.”

In addition to peaceful riding, the club also offers quality instruction. Lena Nordlof-Davis, a USDF (United States Dressage Federation) gold, silver and bronze medalist, handles dressage training and care, and new addition Kelli Di Gioia-Bautista brings her championship experience in hunter jumper training.

Summer Pony Camp is now running with daily riding and bathing of ponies, arts and crafts, and nature hikes. For more information, contact instructor Sarah Powell at (858) 449-3317.

The club is also hosting a dressage clinic on Aug. 9 and 10 with Olympian Charlotte Bredahl-Baker. To register, call Lena Nordolf-Davis at (760) 822-7483.

For more information on boarding opportunities, call (858) 756-0321 or visit