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Urban Acres stable draws horse owners with grassy oasis in Largo

LARGO

The day the saddle arrived, Edward Bie had a feeling he was going to have to eat his words.

"Eddie always said, 'I will never own a horse,' " said his wife, Annette.

Bie had grown up with horses and competed in jumping classes growing up. He never lost his enthusiasm for them, but knew the high cost of keeping, training and showing them.

The saddle, a gift from Mrs. Bie's sister, whose family in California has horses, was sent to the Bies' youngest daughter, Taylor, then 11, who was taking riding lessons.

"She soon developed the same passion as Eddie for horses," said Mrs. Bie.

Bie conceded defeat.

"I made a bet with Taylor," he said. "If she'd get all A's I'd buy her a horse. That was three years ago. Now we have Super Fly and George."

Taylor, 14, is a freshman at Clearwater Central Catholic.

Finding himself back in the horse business, Bie, who owns communications towers, thought about buying property to build a stable for Super Fly and other horses.

One day in 2009, he was driving by his childhood home on Donegan Road in Largo and the adjacent farm once known as Rosebud Ranch owned by the Porter family.

"I ended up buying the Porter family place in March 2009," he said. The property includes an old farmhouse and about 3 acres.

"I wanted to keep this part of Pinellas County green and provide a nice environment for horses," he said. He leased the adjacent 18 acres for future use and currently keeps cattle on it.

Clearing the property, putting up fencing, digging wells and drainage and creating a clay and sand riding arena and three grass turnouts took several months. Then construction began on a barn. The Urban Acres stable opened last summer. It took an investment of $500,000, Bie said, and is still a work in progress.

Eddie and Annette Bie are at the stable every day. He oversees various projects; she cleans stalls and takes care of the feeding and turnout. She recently hired someone to live on-site and help with the daily operation.

The Bies are proud of their investment. "I love it here," she said. "I love the peacefulness out here. I love it because it's in Largo."

Horse owners who know the Bie family began moving their animals to the stable.

Melissa Erickson's daughters, Megan, 11, and Grace, 6, moved Copper there in July.

"We have been very pleased there," said Mrs. Erickson. "The girls really enjoy their trainer. She is helping them with their self-confidence."

Copper, a 17-year-old former barrel racer, is being retrained in English riding and has been winning ribbons. He takes it in stride when the girls paint glitter on his hooves, Mrs. Erickson said.

Lisa Moran, a lifelong Pinellas County resident, moved her two horses here last weekend from her family's 20-acre ranch in Sumter County.

She wanted 12-year-old Leroy and 21-year-old Gallant to be closer to her Largo home. She had looked at stables around the county before finding Urban Acres on the Internet.

The stable has just what she wanted: grass pastures and daily turnout of the horses outdoors. "None of the stables we looked at had grass pastures, and most didn't have real turnout," she said. "I wanted my horses to be able to go out every day."

Shelby Comerford of Largo moved Clint to the stable in October. The 18-year-old Osceola High School senior has been riding in English pleasure classes with Clint for 10 years.

Her mother, Natalie, said the family chose Urban Acres "because it's the perfect situation for our horse. The turnout is huge, and another reason is Eddie and Annette. We trust them with our animal.

"When you have something you love in someone else's care, you worry if they're being taken care of properly. We don't have that worry anymore."

>>Fast facts

Urban Acres

The Urban Acres barn features a wide concrete center aisle, air-conditioned feed and tack rooms, 12 stalls measuring 12 by 14 feet, automatic watering systems, fans and a fly spray system and, coming soon, a closed-circuit camera system in each stall. The stable at 1200 Donegan Road is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, call (727) 593-7453.

Cost: Full board is $550 a month and includes grain twice a day, hay twice a day — three times if not turned out — and four hours of grazing each day. A pasture board for $250 a month is to open in early April.

Employees, other services: Elizabeth Perkins, who has degrees in animal husbandry and animal biology, works with the owners to operate the stable and will live on the premises. Cat Smith of Gotham Training Center gives dressage, hunter and jumper classes Tuesday through Saturday at $50 an hour.

Urban Acres stable draws horse owners with grassy oasis in Largo 02/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 5, 2011 1:59pm]
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