Brawley Farms: A Little Piece of Country Heaven

Brawley Farms: A Little Piece of Country Heaven

by Steve Gamel

When Bob Brawley moved to Southern California 15 years ago to further his horseback riding career, he had no idea he’d wind up meeting his future wife. And, in an ironic twist, it turned out she actually knew quite a bit about this total stranger.

As the story goes, Dana Brawley was an accomplished rider, too, and, though she hadn’t met Bob or his family, she was well aware of how well-respected the Brawley name was throughout the equestrian world. In fact, ever since she was 17, she had been riding horses at Blue Fox Farm, a sales barn located in Escondido, California. The sales barn accepted horses from all over the country, but Dana preferred to ride horses that came from Brawley Farms in Oregon.

“If it was a horse from Bob Brawley, then I wanted it,” Dana said with a laugh. “Who knew we’d meet 15 years later? Now, I am a Brawley. Nancy and Kenny Nordstrom, our mutual friends, introduced us, and we never looked back.” Bob agreed in his soft-spoken yet engaging voice. “It’s quite a story,” he said with a smile.

It’s been quite the fulfilling journey for Bob and Dana Brawley, who have now been married for eight years. They relocated to Double Oak in 2011 and eventually built what is now the third Brawley Farms location in the United States. The farm that started it all is in Jefferson, Oregon and was built in 1974 by Bob’s parents, Tom and Judy. His sister, who lives in Portland, runs the second stable. This latest piece of country heaven, located off Simmons Road across the street from Lantana, has quickly endeared itself to both riding and non-riding residents as an equestrian’s dream.

With more than 17 acres of lush pastures and scenic trails, the farm includes a large covered arena that is directly accessible to the barn, an outside derby field with natural jumps, and ample turnout paddocks. They offer a lesson program for riders who do not own their own horse, junior and amateur hunter, jumper, and equitation training for all levels of competition, exceptional full-service equine boarding and training for competition horses, and more.

But what’s most inspiring is that when Bob and Dana first purchased the property, all that was there was the house and the lake; the rest of it was open fields. Everything you see today was built and designed by Bob and Dana. And they literally thought of everything … from a massive observation room for guests to a fully-stocked equipment room. In addition to supplying saddles, bridles, and helmets, Brawley Farms owns five lesson horses that are available to lesson program riders.

The only equipment a new rider needs is a pair of snug fitting jeans and closed-toe shoes with a heel. “Until you arrive on site and tour our facility, you don’t realize the full scope of what we offer,” Dana said. “Bob did a great job thinking of literally everything.” Bob said it was important to him to follow in the footsteps of his parents. “Like any business, you change with the times. But our basic design and business model is the same as it was in 1974,” Bob said. “It’s a model that worked for my parents, so why change it? It’s served us well over the years.”

He added, “I’m a farm boy born and raised,” he said. “Not many people can say that anymore.”

Bob is the oldest of four siblings and grew up doing every farmhand job imaginable, from feeding animals to cleaning horse stalls, bailing hay, driving tractors, doing irrigation work, and even picking rocks. Naturally, the jobs got more difficult as he got older, and if it took two or three of them to complete a task, then that’s what they’d do – no questions asked.

“We liked it; we never felt overworked,” Bob said. “My dad made it really fun, even if it was a chore that had to be done. As much as I loved the farm, though, my true passion was riding. My dad has always been a do-it-all kind of guy, and he used to help my mom with the horse shows in the summer. When I was 16, he said he wasn’t going to do that anymore and that it was going to be my job. I drove the horses, the equipment, and did everything I needed to do to make it work.”

Bob boasts more than 30 years of experience on the hunter jumper circuit and is known for his classic style, quality horsemanship, and unwavering attention to detail. Part of his rise to popularity was because of that move to California, which allowed him to compete in horse shows nearly every week due to their close proximity to his stable in Del Mar.

It’s a life he takes pride in and wouldn’t trade for anything, especially after relocating to Texas. And with Dana by his side, what they’ve created here is like heaven on earth. “It’s a little piece of heaven here,” Bob said while staring lovingly at Dana. “You really do feel like you’re in the country.”

 

760.801.6655 | www.BrawleyFarmsInc.com | 200 Simmons Rd. | Double Oak, TX 75077
Visit Tues. – Sat. during business hours

 

photography by David Erdek Photography


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