A state-of-the-art facility has emerged on the Gulf side of Florida, just to the southeast of Tampa near Sarasota. Designed with no expense spared and horses in mind, TerraNova Equestrian in Myakka City is a dream project for owner-operators Hannah Herrig and Zach Ketelboeter. Enlisting the help of eventing professional Sara Kozumplik Murphy and an “A” team of designers, builders, and crew members, the team at TerraNova plans to offer a true eventer’s paradise that puts the horse first and welcomes more riders into the sport.
It began as a simple idea. Hannah and her husband, Zach, are both eventers, starting out under the tutelage of Brad Hall in the Midwest. Hannah and Zach knew they wanted to go into business with horses, but Hannah’s parents, Steve and Natalee Herrig, encouraged them to dream bigger.
“The project has gone a lot of different ways,” Hannah explained. “Our first goal or dream was to do sales and training, and we had started designing our dream barn. But my dad is an entrepreneur and is always thinking of big ideas. He really pushed us to think bigger.”
As the boundaries grew, the TerraNova project began to take on a life of its own. The family found a 250-acre plot of land in Myakka City, bordering the Myakka River State Park, and set about creating the facility of their dreams. Next door sat some 1100 acres that contained some basic infrastructure for an equestrian residential development that had fizzled out. Now, TerraNova has opened its doors as a riding stable with a world-class show venue in the works. TerraNova will also oversee the residential development, where plots of land are currently for sale and more infrastructure is under construction. The facility will host its first USEA-recognized horse trials October 8-10, 2021.
The barn, the work of architect Annie Caruthers in collaboration with B&D Builders and The Decorators Unlimited, is a stunning piece of art with no detail left unfinished. For all of the immaculate looks and polish, however, the facility still maintains its horses-first priority. Through the expertise of other industry professionals, the Herrigs saw TerraNova’s true form taking shape.
While competing at the American Eventing Championships in 2016, Hannah, who first met Sara Kozumplik Murphy through Brad Hall while attending the University of Florida, began brainstorming with Sara about the facility she’d dreamt up. What emerged was a common desire to build a facility that was the best place for horses, riders, and spectators alike.
“We’re really trying to focus on all three angles,” Sara said. “It’s going to have way more open space and will be much more horse friendly than some other facilities.”
Sara worked her network, connecting Hannah, her family, and Zach with Sharn Wordley (of Wordley Martin Equestrian) for footing, Captain Mark Phillips for course design, Eric Bull for course construction, and other industry leaders including Craig Martin, Shelley Page and Max Corcoran. The result? A true all-star team with a breadth of experience and vision to turn the TerraNova dream into a reality. “The big vision is that we wanted to have a state-of-the-art facility without it being a concrete jungle,” Sara explained.
Short term, the facility is now open for boarders and training – Brad Hall comes to town regularly to teach, as do several other clinicians – and the goal of the team is to execute the events on its calendar well before moving on to bigger challenges.
“We are cognizant of the fact that though there is a dream team, we need to get our feet wet and do a good job the first couple of years,” Sara said. “Honestly, running Beginner Novice through three-star our first year is big enough!”
Long term, the goal is to build out an Advanced/4* course. While Florida is notoriously flat, TerraNova will feature some rolling terrain thanks to some excavating ingenuity that created more berms to elevate the land. At the same time, the team knows they don’t need to rush. “We’re okay with the understanding that this is all a few years away,” Sara explained. “We know we don’t need to have every single goal accomplished right at the beginning.”
TerraNova Equestrian has grown out of a passion for the sport, Hannah says. “Our mission here is just to make it the best place we can for horses, riders, and spectators and to grow the spectatorship of the sport. Whether you’re running Beginner Novice or three-star, we want everyone to have an excellent experience here.”
Sara echoes this sentiment, praising the community-focused approach of the team. “One thing that has really struck me about Hannah is that while, yes, we are building for the elite level, the core feeling is that this is somewhere you can go to do your first cross-rail or your first Beginner Novice. It’s not just for the top echelons of the sport. They truly want to build an inclusive community dedicated to growing the sport from the grassroots on up.”