California Riding Magazine • July, 2011

Get In While You Can!
Fairbanks Riding Club has openings
for a fortunate few.

by Kim F. Miller

It's hard to say who's luckier: the horses that get to live at the Fairbanks Riding Club or their owners. The park-like setting offers comforts and amenities for both and, above all, a peaceful, safe, family-friendly environment that is hard to come by in a boarding facility.

Because the Fairbanks Riding Club is located within the gated community of Fairbanks Ranch, in San Diego's lovely Rancho Santa Fe, some people mistakenly assume that the stable is available to residents only, but that's not true. "Since 1984 Fairbanks Riding Club has welcomed boarders and students from outside the Fairbanks Ranch community who wish to take advantage of the high quality instruction offered and the lovely, peaceful surroundings," explains Susan Ellner, president of the Fairbanks Riding Club Board. Better yet, it currently has a few openings for new boarders.

"Fairbanks Riding Club is all about the love of horses and the members who share that love of horses. Every horse gets excellent care and attention and is exercised every day. The barn staff works very hard in rain or shine, even holidays, to make sure the barn is a clean and safe environment. And mostly, we want everyone at FRC, whether they are boarding a horse or taking lessons, whether they are competition riders or just want to be on a horse, to feel good about being a member of Fairbanks Riding Club."

Direct access to the area's well maintained trail system is a plus for all boarders, and Fairbanks Riding Club features a Euro Walker, three turn-outs plus ample space for hand-grazing on lush grass.

Under Barn Manager Susie Lynn's management for 21 of the stable's 27-year history, FRC has always offered a consistently high level of care and continuity for horses and riders. What's new is the stabling, arena footing and one of two resident trainers: hunter/jumper professional Kelli Di Gioia Bautista moved in on June 1, as a complement to the dressage program offered by veteran trainer and competitor Lena Nordolf-Davis, who has been at Fairbanks Riding Club for nine years.

In mid-March, FRC undertook a major remodeling project to replace and upgrade the original stalls. With Susie and Susan on watch, Randy Baker and his Baker Quality Construction crew razed the old stalls and laser-leveled the ground in the first of several steps taken to ensure good drainage. Beautiful new stalls from MD Barns were well received by their residents. "The horses seem to like the addition of grills and windows between them for ventilation and socialization," Susan notes.

Next came upgrading the footing in FRC's three arenas, and sprucing up the 20 - 12' by 24' outside paddocks with new waterers, feeders, end panels and tack locker pedestals.


"We are so fortunate to have Lena Nordolf-Davis, a very talented and compassionate trainer, and our new hunter/jumper trainer, Kelli Di Gioia Bautista, whose training philosophy fits very well with ours," notes Susan.

A USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist, Lena is known for everything from show ring success to instilling great horse care and stable management basics in all her students. She currently has 16 horses in dressage training, plus several in full care, and a clientele fairly evenly mixed between juniors and adult amateurs. An active competitor herself, Lena has coached riders to everything from CDS Southern California Championships to high point awards in the Training Level through FEI divisions. She brought her current Grand Prix mount Nautica up the levels herself and enjoys working with horses of all breeds, backgrounds and experience levels. "My training philosophy always puts the horse first," she says. "That's the case whether you are a serious competitor or are here riding for a fun and joyful experience.
"I enjoy working with all kinds of horses," she continues. "I believe dressage is good for any horse, no matter their breed or level."

Lena also offers a care-only program for boarders who prefer not to be in training, and she oversees the dressage-based, modestly-sized lesson program at Fairbanks Riding Club. Lena's mentors include Conrad Schumacher, Christine Traurig and Sue Blinks. She is a big believer in continuing education for herself and her students and has lined up clinics with Charlotte Bredahl on August 8-9, David McMillian for July 1-2, and Sue Blinks for later this year.

Kelli Di Gioia Bautista is the latest addition to the Fairbanks Riding Club family. Having ridden with some of the top hunter/jumper programs in California, she's a familiar face on the show scene. Like Lena, she has a strong emphasis on safe and thorough horsemanship. Kelli's main influences are the horsemanship-oriented Foxfield Riding School and her other trainers throughout her junior career: the Karazissis family's Far West Farm, Karen Healey and Richard Spooner. GSDHJA, LAHSA and PCHA champs are highlights on her long resume.

"I'm so thrilled to call Fairbanks Riding Club the new home for KDB Training Stables," says Kelli. "It's a location that any trainer would dream of being at and the staff at FRC has allowed me to put even more attention and focus into my training program." She welcomes everyone from pony riders to adult amateurs and enjoys working with all for success in the equitation, hunter and/or jumper ranks.

For more information on boarding opportunities at the Fairbanks Riding Club, call barn manager Susie Lynn at 858 756 0321 or visit