The Heartbeat of Chicago Equestrian: Bull Run Equestrian Center


Beautiful Bull Run Equestrian Center in Elburn, IL is steeped in the equestrian tradition of the Chicago area. Founded by the Vanderveen Family, the iconic facility is now owned by Bill and Andrea Ferguson. Resident trainer Lynda Zema is enthusiastic about the expansive farm. “It is as beautiful a place as you will ever see. We have large indoor and outdoor rings, a jump field, a heated 43 stall barn, and wonderful club facilities. The farm has over 30 acres and is adjacent to a 300 acre forest preserve. It is just gorgeous.” Zema describes the activities for riders at the farm as “offering something for everyone. We have novice riders, adults, short stirrup, children’s hunters and all the way up.” Bull Run’s owners are also avid foxhunters as an added dimension to the farm’s involvement.

Zema and her students schedule several travel horse show trips, but the heart of Bull Run is in the local equestrian community. Fox hunts are with the nearby Wayne-DuPage Hunt, a tradition established in Wayne, IL in the 1940’s. While the horse show clients will travel to Kentucky and Traverse City, MI, their favorite shows are right at home at the Ledges Show Circuit. Zema explains, “We just love the Showplace Productions shows, especially at Ledges. Ledges has been a part of my personal history since I was a teenager.” Located in Roscoe, IL, the historic Ledges Sporting Horses facility has been holding horse show competitions for decades. It has been a launching place for many of today’s great riders and trainers including Kent Farrington, Chris Kappler, Kristen Vanderveen Beezie Madden, Val Renihan, the Jayne family, and the Weedens – to name a few.

Under manager Pat Boyle, the Ledges Horse Shows business model focuses on being user friendly. Zema states, “The shows are beautiful and the Showplace team is very accommodating. From Nicole Boyle in the office to Mike Puffer the Assistant Manager, the whole team goes above and beyond. It”s a very affordable competition with a hometown feel.” She emphasizes the importance of a local show circuit as an essential element to the survival of riding schools. “Local circuits are an important place to get people started. For example, a short stirrup kid can show without a huge bill because we don”t have to pay big shipping bills and clients can sleep at home. They have a great experience with a first-rate staff, a good facility, and excellent footing. It is an excellent beginning.

From Bull Run’s commitment to the local horse community and their desire to support the Ledges shows a hallmark idea was launched. Andrea Ferguson and Lynda Zema put their heads together to create the Bull Run Equestrian Center Hunter Derby Series. Beginning at the April Ledges Spring Warm Up and culminating with the Ledges Fall Final, the series consists of six USHJA National Hunter Derbies offering a total of $24,000 in prize money. Boyle is excited about the series. “Bull Run has been a great supporter of Ledges and we are thrilled to be featuring this popular 3′ USHJA National Hunter Derby with their support.”

Local horse shows are the backbone of equestrian competition, the place from which everyone grows. Bull Run Equestrian Center, under the ownership of the Ferguson Family and the guidance of Lynda Zema, has generously provided support to this integral structure. Opportunity provides the pathway to education and experience. Who knows the next great rider to emerge from the Ledges Sporting Horses facility? Perhaps they will be in the winner’s circle at the Bull Run Equestrian Center Hunter Derby Series.

For more info visit the Bull Run Equestrian Center website:

About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.

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