Q&A: Meghan Bell of Red Bell Farms
● By J. Chambless
Meghan Bell said that owning a farm with her husband was a dream come true.
and Kevin Bell are the owners of Red Bell Farms in Landenberg.
Landenberg Life caught up with Meghan to talk about how the
couple came to live on a farm in Landenberg, and how her love of
horses led them to start boarding horses and providing event training
and riding lessons on the farm.
Q: You established Red Bell Farms in the summer of 2015. Tell us about what led to the decision. Did you always plan to have a farm?
Bell: Owning a horse farm was a dream of mine since I was a little kid. It’s something that got put on hold, because of my career as a physician assistant, but when my work situation changed in 2014, I decided to make the dream a reality. It was a big leap of faith to move from a neighborhood to 11 acres, but it has been worth it.
What did you like about the Flint Hill Road property that made you and your husband decide this was the place for you?
I had actually seen the property years before when I was looking for a place to board the horse I had at the time. When I saw the ad pop up online, I knew I had to go see it ASAP! I knew it was the place for us the second we started down the long driveway. It just felt like home before it was even ours. The property is gorgeous, set a mile back from the road, and we are surrounded by farmland and a golf course. It’s so easy to picture Kasey, our daughter, growing up here and possibly running the boarding business herself one day. We weren’t the only family to put a bid in on this property, but the homeowners told us later it was the letter we wrote about how it was going to be a family farm that got passed down to Kasey that really moved them to accept our offer.
Meghan, tell us about your love of horses.
I have always loved animals. I begged for a pony for Christmas every year, even before I started riding. My mom got me a week of summer camp the year I turned 8 for my birthday, and I never looked back! I went from camp, to lessons, to showing and then volunteering around the barn, to teaching lessons and managing a barn during college. There’s something about the connection between horse and rider that separates equestrian sports from the rest of the sporting world. Plus, there is nothing like the feeling when you nail a dressage move you have been working on for weeks, or when you complete a stadium course with no rails down, or when you get done flying around cross country. It’s the trust and partnership between horse and rider that make it special and exciting.
You board horses at the farm. What are some of the services that you offer?
We are a full-service boarding facility offering both full care, and field care board for horses. We have a large sand ring with lights for riding year-round, and we are a short hack to Fair Hill and White Clay Creek, so there are miles and miles of trail riding. We offer training and lessons as well as horse shows on the property. We also have a small therapeutic riding program.
We offer other services as well, including photography sessions, small parties, and we are thinking about offering yoga.
How many horses do you have on the farm?
I have three personal horses. My 8-year-old off the track thoroughbred Symphonic Hero, who is also known as “Stark,” my daughter's pony, Blue Suede Shoes, who is known as “Elvis,” and a six-year-old off the track thoroughbred Street Warrior known as “Roo.” Both Stark and Roo are getting a second career as eventers. Stark will remain my personal horse, hopefully for years, while Roo is currently for sale. They both have so much talent! I can’t wait to see where their careers go. Elvis is a saint of a pony. He is currently teaching one of my advanced students the ropes in the show ring, but he is also used in our small therapy program.
In total there are nine horses on the property. We also have four chickens, three goats, a dog and a cat.
Tell us about the riding program.
We offer beginner to intermediate riding lessons on the farm. For our boarders that are advanced riders, we allow outside trainers to come use the ring as well. We are eventing based, all my students learn dressage basics. We trailer to local horse trials and jumper shows. But we also go to local hunter shows. I think it’s important to be a well-rounded rider. There is something to learn from every discipline. I also have a handful of therapy students. They are so much fun!
Can you talk a little about the therapeutic riding lessons that you offer?
I didn’t set out to start a therapeutic program when we first came to the farm. It kind of happened as an amazing accident. It’s a long story, but I love working with these amazing kids! We are slowly taking new students in this program, especially now that the weather is getting nicer. Elvis loves to teach and he is so good with kids of all ages and abilities.
These kids have so much to offer, and they learn so fast. They also love every bit of the process. You don’t have to argue with them to groom the horses, they may get easily distracted, but they are having a blast, whether we are riding or just walking the horse on the lead line. There is something to be learned about ourselves from that. It’s so nice to slow down and re-experience they joy of just loving a horse.
Besides, the farm, what is your favorite spot in Landenberg?
My parents’ house in Somerset Lake. We go every Sunday for a big family dinner, which can include just my sisters and I and our families, or cousins, aunts and uncles, and family friends.
What three dinner guests, living or dead, would you invite to dine with you?
Only three? There are two ghosts that live in the house, and possibly one in the barn. It would be really cool to meet them. I would love to hear stories about the farm from the late 1800s. I know that there used to be cattle and goats here. There’s so much history in our area, wouldn’t it be cool to know if any historical figures had ever stopped by for dinner or to spend the night? I would also love to have my grandparents. It would be amazing to make homemade raviolis with my dad’s mom in our farm kitchen and have a huge family dinner, old farm style, in our big dining room. I think they would be so proud, not only of me for following my dreams, but of my parents for helping their kids get as far in life as we have. Plus, Kasey is such a joy, I could see her grabbing their hands and taking them to see her pony and chase the chickens around.
What food is always in your refrigerator?
Eggs and hot sauce! Our girls keep us supplied with fresh eggs and we always have a cabinet full of hot sauce. We have a big garden, including apple trees, too, so in the summer we always have fresh fruit and veggies.
How can people contact Red Bell Farms?
We have a website, www.redbellfarmspa.wordpress.com. Facebook, www.facebook.com/redbellfarmspa, that’s the best places to get updates on our upcoming shows. But I am easily reached on the phone or via text as well at 610-470-8667.