With her heart in equestrian showing, jumping and competing, Delia Alvarez-Apollo has opened Apollo Farms Ltd. to teach a new generation of horse lovers how to train for equestrian events.
Apollo, a professional horse trainer for five years, decided to set out on her own, and after searching for the right location, found it in the eastern farmlands of Carbon County.
Delia and her husband, Robert, were looking for a move from South New Jersey to the Carbon County area.
"We looked at a lot of different properties," she said. "I fell in love with the rolling hills and the overall layout. It's a wonderful property to train on."
Apollo Farms, which opened on May 15, is located on over 40 acres. Their new barn has a 15-foot aisle and 12-by-12 matted stalls. The facility boasts a five-acre hunter derby grass course, a 100-foot-by-200 foot ring with all weather footing, a 60-foot-by- 100-foot short stirrup ring, and a 125-foot-by-200-foot grass ring, and this is only the work that they have completed during their first phase of construction.
For guests, they offer accommodations in a handcrafted log cabin, with access to a meandering trail along the boundary of the 40-acre property.
"It's a really unique property, Apollo said. "We really fell in love with it."
Apollo Farms offers riding lessons for beginner riders through advanced riders.
"We teach all types of riders," she noted. "For instance, we teach therapeutic riding. We've had several kids with ADD and mild disabilities."
What most excites Delia is introducing young children to riding. She started her daughter, Elliena, at the age of two. She is now four and can steer her horse, post and jump.
"It's important to get the kids to jump before they even learn to canter," she explained. "Because if you start kids when they are little, they just don't have a notion of fear. They learn everything and go with it. That's what makes them so good."
Delia wished she had started riding when she was two years old, but alas, she didn't get into the saddle until the ripe old age of seven.
"I started riding with a great trainer, Wendy Klein, who taught me a lot. Then I was lucky enough to ride with George Morris-considered the best rider of all time."
As an adult, Delia rode with five-time Equestrian Olympic Jumper Anne Kursinski.
"She is regarded as the best all time woman rider," Delia noted.
More recently, she's been working with hunter rider Lisa Stackow. Delia alternates her training between hunters and jumpers.
"Hunters is a discipline judged on suitability of the horse, precision, and a certain amount of stride and pace," she said. "It's all very technical and based on the judgment of the judges.
"Jumpers, although technical, is judged basically by the clock," she continued. "As long as you get a fast time and a clear round, which means no rails down, you are judged on time compared to the other riders."
Apollo Farms is beginning to attract students. Delia hopes to attract kids from five to 18 years old for a weekday summer camp.
"The kids get to learn about all aspects of the care of the horses," she explained. "They get to ride every day."
Besides teaching, Delia trains horses. At the beginning of the interview, she was putting Leon Dax a seven-year-old Argentine Warm-blood through his paces.
"When I got him, he was bucking and bolting," she said. "He needed training. I love fixing horses that are hard to manage."
"I love horses," Delia said. "They are a huge part of my life. Riding is such a unique activity. You are always met with different challenges. It's a really rewarding experience.
"Like with Leon, for example. I got him has a jumper prospect and we worked really hard for a year and a half. We ended up being third in Pennsylvania in two different divisions. That's huge for him. To take a horse that was untrained, and to go around a course beautifully, is just really rewarding."
With the opening of Apollo Farms, Delia is looking forward to her dream, "to be able to share the gift of horses with other people."
Apollo Farms Ltd. Is at 3070 Summer Mountain Rd. in Palmerton. For information, call: 610-900-4120, or visit: www.apollofarmsltd.com.