Around the Water Trough

Hedge and Turf: Catching up with Robert Stucky

By Jaclyn McElhaney

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Sitting in the clubhouse at Hedge & Turf Charlotte, it's easy to get swept away in the clean, warm notes of electronic music that permeate this well-organized and professional facility. Robert Stucky and co-owner Craig Davis have a knack for mixing modern taste with old fashioned values. They designed the barn themselves on the HGTV app. Having both grown up on farms, Robert and Craig appreciate the value of hard work, and installed much of the fencing themselves.

It doesn't take long to notice the strong connection and bond Robert shares with his family of equestrians, who also helped with the barn's design. In business since 2013, his is the third farm to be named "Hedge & Turf." His grandmother, Sharonne, still runs Hedge & Turf North in Ann Arbor, MI, and mother Carone runs Hedge & Turf South in Cherryville, NC.

Robert's mother, Carone Stucky, is a life-long equestrian, competing since she was nine, working her way through the levels, and going on to be a well-known trainer with successful students in all levels. Carone has also bred and trained many show champions.

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Robert's grandmother, Sharonne Peters, has a history in dressage. After starting a family, her attentions became split between hunter/jumper and racehorses. She's been training riders of all levels for over 40 years and has an especially good eye for matching horses with the right riders.

It all started with great grandfather Robert Byers, a farmer in Ontario, Canada, who bought draft horses from logging companies and sold them to Two Pines Dairy in Detroit. After WWII he bought ex-cavalry horses to later be sold as riding horses.

With this kind of heritage, it's easy to imagine that Robert's horses and career were "made" for him. Not the case, says Robert. He was preparing for dental school when a position as a demo rider for George Morris and then a riding and showing position with Brad Spragg of the Atlanta Hunt Club changed his career path. Growing up, he rode green horses and ponies that made their way from the Amish and Europe.

After riding many horses that found their way to him, Robert finally found his way to the first horse who truly captured his interest. While in Europe as a working student, he got sit on a Zangersheide gelding named ‘Chasm Z.’ Love at first ride, Robert knew he had to bring him home to the US. That instant bond with ‘Chasm’ grew into a beautiful partnership with he and ‘Chasm’ becoming 2012 and 2013 HITS Ocala Grand Circuit Champions.

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Another aptitude that Robert acquired from his lineage of equestrians is the ability to successfully match a horse and rider. He enjoys helping his students find partners suitable for reaching their goals. He’s helped students find the perfect matches locally as well as abroad. Even though he has the natural ability to know a good horse when he sees one, he has never bought a horse off a video and always sits on the horse before making a recommendation.

Robert trains students at various levels in hunter, jumper, and equitation out of his facility. He also enjoys working with Charlotte-area eventers who are looking for specialized training in the stadium ring. He values a good work ethic in his students and a drive to reach their goals. Before they even sit in the saddle, Robert likes students to start building relationships with the horses on the ground and understanding the value in being all-round horsemen.

Robert lights up when asked about his career highlights. It's obviously hard to choose, but forced to pick on the spot, he goes with his first Jumper Prix in 2007 on his ‘Chasm Z,’ competing internationally at CSI Twente in the Netherlands and competing his stallion Cassanova at Devon. A hard question for all riders who have ridden many horses, I asked him if he had a favorite horse. He didn’t hesitate to say that honor belongs to ‘Chasm Z’ as well.

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His advice to young riders and amateurs who are striving to get somewhere in the equestrian world is “to be patient, just because goals aren’t met in your expected time frame, doesn’t mean they won’t happen. The best thing about riding is it’s a life-long sport.”

When passed down through generations, it can be even longer than that.

Hedge & Turf Farm is located in Waxhaw, NC. Visit their web site to learn more about what they offer for area equestrians!