Some girls just have horseback riding in their veins. And for the mother and daughter team of Connie and Hannah Stevens, they have transformed their equestrian passion into a business.
Late last year, Connie and Hannah purchased a country club-like horse farm on 21 beautiful rolling acres in Barrington Hills, a horse farm they’ve named Matchmaker Ltd.
“My mom has an innate, God-given gift for being able to match a rider with the perfect horse,” explains Hannah, who knows this first hand as her mother has fostered her love of riding from the moment she was old enough to hold the reins of a pony. “Matchmaker best describes what our barn is all about.”
Connie realized her love for horses after college when she opened her first barn in Denver. Over the last 40 years, Connie has set the bar high for others in the field as she has trained riders and horses of all levels, whether they are children on ponies, equitation horses, adults on hunters and jumpers, or future Olympians. Her amateurs love her ability to stay patient with them as she teaches and many of her clients have been with her for 10 to 20 years. Her clients enjoy showing both locally and nationally, traveling to shows in Kentucky, Tennessee, Tryon, Michigan and Long Island, as well as the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.
Connie has searched the globe in pursuit of the best horses, but is equally talented at turning young, unmuscled animals into award-winning athletes.
“We have traveled all over collecting top awards at the nation’s best horse shows,” Connie says. “We really are at the top of our game.”
So when word reached Connie and Hannah that a boutique horse farm in Barrington Hills was for sale, the duo felt a pull towards the property they couldn’t resist.
“We had long been supporters of all the beautiful stables near the North Shore,” says Hannah. “But none of them had the true feeling of a ‘country-esque’ barn. That’s why we decided to make the move to this spacious, boutique-style farm. Our horses are so happy to be here.”
Matchmaker Ltd. specializes in hunters and jumpers. Hunters are judged on beauty, technique, and way they move. Jumpers race against the clock to skillfully navigate challenging courses with bigger, wider obstacles (as riders progress). Jumpers are assessed on scope and power, while hunters are judged more on style and grace. Matchmaker Ltd. has just 15 available stalls for clients, creating an exclusive opportunity to learn from the best in a charming, family-oriented environment. Their heated stalls, indoor arena, and stunning trails will appeal to the most discerning riders.
“This barn has such a good spirit—a quality of peacefulness and serenity, land where the horses can run and romp through the hills, kick their heels up and really be horses,” Connie says. “And Barrington is such a horse-loving community—with some residents even having horses in their backyard.”
Part of the fun in purchasing this new barn is the opportunity to build a new class of riders. “We really are on the front-end of so much possibility,” Connie explains. “One of the things I love best about teaching is bringing in a new class of students who will grow up with us,” she says. “That, and watching Hannah share what she knows with a young group of riders.”
Hannah recently left a marketing job in New York to join her mother at Matchmaker Ltd. An office job for the young woman who had traveled the world with her mother in pursuit of equestrian dreams just didn’t feel right. “I couldn’t see myself sitting at a desk for the rest of my life wondering what was going on outside. I felt a calling to be back here with my mom to build this business.”
Perfectionists, Connie and Hannah look around their beautiful surroundings, taking notes for how they hope to improve the property.
“We are sticklers for cleanliness,” Connie says smiling, overseeing the planting of spring pansies in the barn’s pristine flower boxes, as Hannah moves through the stalls with a rake. Connie’s corgi Ernie keeps a watchful eye as the women work. With summer just around the corner, Connie and Hannah have big plans for updating the landscape, the outdoor arena, and the building structures.
Matchmaker Ltd. takes pride in going above and beyond to provide unparalleled care for horses and riders—a “bed and breakfast” approach to horse care that sets the standard for superior quality.
“We just want the world to know that we’re here,” Connie says. “Once they do, Matchmaker Ltd. will take care of everything else. We really have something special.”
To learn more about Matchmaker Ltd., visit matchmaker-ltdequine.com.