April 2009

“Variety” is Keystone for Cheval Manor

Photo by Laurie Virkstis
Photos by Laurie Virkstis

There's a new option for Austin horse owners--a professionally run, spacious and convenient boarding facility that welcomes hunter/jumper, dressage, eventing, Western and polo disciplines, located beside the SH 1-30 roll road.  It's called Cheval Manor.

Cheval Manor has been home to Dennis Antolik's Austin Polo Club for years but will be moving in the fall to a new Tuscan-themed polo/equine development called "The Vineyard" just north of Austin in Florence.  Dennis' partner, Eleanor Boatwright, will manage Cheval Manor.  Cheval Manor will still host polo practices and lessons, but its real mission is to have a variety of equine disciplines--fulfilling a vision the two have had for a long time.

Eleanor has managed many large horse businesses before.  Originally from Atlanta, she started her riding career as a hunter/jumper rider and qualified for all major indoors.  She also rode in the United States Equestrian Team (USET) finals and the McClay finals. Her passion was for the jumpers and she had a successful show career in the East.  Continuing her career in the horse business, she managed a large Quarter horse breeding facility in North Carolina.  She moved to Austin in January after running a large hunter/jumper barn in Kentucky for several years.  Now she relishes the milder Austin winters as they pale compared to the severe Kentucky winter weather.

Cheval Manor today is blooming into a premier urban equine location.  It is set on well-drained expansive rolling hills.  Currently it offers full care boarding in any one of its 24 12 x 12 luxurious stalls with daily turn out.  There is pasture boarding as well in safe pipe-fenced spacious paddocks, and a round pen, too.  There are two riding arenas--one measures 150' x 300', and the other 100' x 200'.  There is also the ten-acre manicured and irrigated polo field, along with cut trails throughout the property.  Eventually the owners plan to build a covered arena and more barns and paddocks.    Although breeding is not a primary focus for Cheval Manor, foaling out mares is an option here.  Both the owners of the facility and the barn manager live on site. Eleanor has gained many international contacts in her professional life and occasionally will import horses for clients and serve as a sales agent.

Coaching hunter/jumpers riders is one of her loves and this spring and summer she will begin taking clients to "A" shows as some of her Kentucky students will travel down here specifically for that reason.

But it's not just the physical plant that stands out here, it's the guidance and vision of the owners as well.  Both Eleanor and Dennis foresee hosting clinics of many types.  Cheval Manor will serve as a fusion of equine education in areas such as hunter/jumper, dressage, eventing, reining.  Also, having spent 20 years in the movie business finding and training horses for movies and working with the human actors, Eleanor does not mind sharing her expertise in movie wrangling.  She has worked on such movies as Something to Talk About, Dreamer, Ruffian and Seabiscuit.  In fact, it was Eleanor's red chestnut Gift of Gold that was used in the Seabiscuit jumping scenes ridden by the actor who plays a young Red Pollard.  Eleanor had already ridden the 18 hh, 1750 lb. Hanoverian in Grand Prix and Mini Prix's.  Although the horse was retired, he served a second career while on loan to the making of the movie.  For folks who desire to learn more about the movie business, Eleanor may offer clinics with with her friend Rex Peterson, a top Hollywood horse trainer, who counts trick training as just one of his many aptitudes as well as with Cari Swanson, a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) silver medalist who works with Rex.  She welcomes other clinicians as well.

This open, welcoming attitude spills over to charity events, too.  Last year and coming up this year as well, the barn hosts a Polo for Puppies event, to raise funds for the Texas Hearing and Service Dogs organization.  Other charitable fund raising events will be in Cheval Manor's future.  Both of the owners have a particularly soft spot in their hearts for dogs and have turned the pack of vagabonds that have fall into their laps for a variety of reasons into a well mannered set.  Dennis always makes sure he keeps an adopted Doberman he gets from a rescue group on hand.

To learn more about Cheval Manor, contact Eleanor Boatwright at (512) 695-4338, chevalmanor@aol.com.  The facility is located at 13628 Gregg Manor Road, Manor, TX 78653 and visitors are welcome by appointment.

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