California Riding Magazine • January, 2009

Santa Ynez Valley View Farm
State-of-the-art facility equals very happy horses.

People who’ve kept their horses at facilities run by others often have a long list of what they’d do differently and better if and when they get the chance to run their own operation. Add to that, in the case of Kristina Novak, a childhood dream of owning her own first-class boarding and training stable and the result is Valley View Farm, the state-of-the-art Santa Ynez facility often referred to as a country club for horses.

The horse’s mental and physical welfare was the main category into which all of Kristina’s specific ideas fell. Built from scratch on 10 beautiful acres, Valley View was completed and ready for horses two years ago and it has since gained a reputation as a wonderful place to train or rehab horses and, in many cases, provide a lovely equine vacation.

Big, airy barn aisles, 12’ x 16’ stalls in the show barn, 16’ x 16’ stalls with runs in a second barn and stalls with 60’ runs in a shed row set-up are a few of the generous stabling configurations at Valley View. Large grass paddocks with no shared fencing enable horses to see and interact with each other without hurting themselves. Excellent footing in Valley View’s 150’ x 250’ jumping ring and its dressage arena was a top priority from day one. The result of so much attention is a custom base and top layers combination designed to absorb shock and provide a firm surface for push off. It was designed by the team that created and maintains the footing for the Blenheim EquiSports hunter/jumper shows and specifically for Valley View’s intended usage and weather conditions.

Wintera, premium Oldenburg filly, GOV.
Photo: Tass Photography

The best footing in the world, however, offers little benefit if it is not maintained properly. Valley View’s crew has been trained in that art. “I think we manage our footing better than a lot of horse shows do,” relays Kristina, who is a longtime hunter/jumper competitor.

When she was a young girl, Kristina’s dreams manifested themselves in miniature stables constructed of popsicle sticks. Today, the real barn she presides over has earned Valley View accolades any stable owner dreams of. “People tell me that they’ve never seen their horses as relaxed as they are here,” Kristina confides. One owner reported being able to walk her horse without a stud chain for the first time after he acclimated to Valley View.

Valley View is home to two trainers. Kristina’s coach Kim Guill-Harries bases her hunter/jumper training business, Southern Cross, there and Susan Derr Drake offers dressage training. Both are show-oriented professionals who find that the serene setting and first-class features at Valley View make their jobs easier. “They tell me their horses are sounder, quieter and easier to train here,” Kristina reports proudly. Happy horses, she notes, are typically the ones that work out best, no matter the breed or discipline.

Within Reach, premium Oldenburg colt, GOV.
Photo: Tass Photography

Equines at Ease

The setting is also ideal for rehab patients, retirement clients and horses that simply need a vacation. Acreage leased at a nearby farm enables Kristina to give rehab and retirement customers ample pasture space. In addition to running the property’s day-to-day operations, Kristina greatly enjoys working with the rehab, retirement and vacation horses. “I have a few horses that come here just to hang out for 90 to 120 days after their show season is over,” she says. “I am really proud that we have gained a reputation as a place to send horses that just need a break.”

Valley View’s bucolic setting would not be complete without young horses prancing about the property, and Kristina has taken care of that by venturing into breeding. In just its first year, her sporthorse program has already produced three premium foals: two from the Oldenburg Verband in Germany and one that was designated a champion colt by the ISR Oldenburg North America. Another kudo this year was having her Thoroughbred mare, Jet Set Bride, approved by the Oldenburg Verband. The coveted accomplishment is all the more remarkable because it followed a racetrack injury that had the mare on track to be put down before Kristina decided to rescue her, preserving both her life and her excellent conformation.

The plan is to let the young horses eventually tell Kristina which discipline they would like to do, but first they will get plenty of time to simply be young horses. “We are very interested in the Hunter Breeding competitions, but our whole philosophy here is to let horses be horses,” observes Kristina. “We like to let them be shaggy, playful and silly together. That’s how they learn life’s pecking order. It’s like kids on a playground: if they’ve been knocked down a little by their own kind, they are a bit more willing to listen to you.”

In addition to the great horses, Valley View has attracted a great group of people. All together, it has become a very gratifying and fun way to parlay a passion into a highly regarded professional enterprise. “We worked really hard on all the details,” Kristina notes. “And we take a lot of pride in how things have turned out.”

For more information on boarding, training, rehab, retirement or equine vacation opportunities at Santa Ynez Valley View Farm LLC, call Kristina Novak at 818-917-5540.

Kristina Novak showing Sion.