September 28, 2021


Tara and Le Bronze Fleur (the Early Years)

Tara was almost born with a love horses.  At first it was playing with “My Little Pony” toy horses, then Breyer horses, and of course pony rides at any opportunity.  She inherited this from many generations of horse lovers in her family.  On her father’s side, her Great Great Grandfather was the town livestock dealer in Cameron, West Virginia.  He passed his love of horses on to his son and grandson.  When Tara’s dad (Mayes Mathews) was young, he had a pony to  ride around town.  Tara’s mother (Cheryl Hess Mathews) dreamed of having horses from an early age.  At age 9, she helped her father build a one horse stable and got a large pony,Billy, which she rode western and cared for at home until leaving for college.  When Tara was seven, she and her mother took a trail ride in Lanexa and it was clear that riding lessons were in order.  Starting lessons at Lakewood Farm with Leslie Owens, Tara has never looked back, even though she fell off in what is now our riding ring on that very first lesson.  Soon Tara was riding at Betty Dye’s Cedar Valley Farm (in its original location) and then acquired her first pony, Le Bronze Fleur, or “Burp” as he was affectionately called. Tara’s love for horses has helped her bond not only with these special creatures, but with her many riding students and their families.  Now, Tara and her husband Ervin, Cheryl and Mayes all pass their love of horses along to their daughter/granddaughter Abigail who has definitely inherited the bug (My Little Ponies, Breyers, first pony Lil, Big Heart or Hearty, and her current pony, In My Pocket or Digby ).

Once Tara started riding lessons, she began to develop her skills riding her first pony, Le Bronze Fleur.  She and Burp worked hard to develop a life long relationship and passion for each other and the sport.  Le Bronze Fleur had numerous championships throughout his long show career.  Tara went on to work with other horses to bring them to success both inside and outside the show ring. She could not have done this without the support of her loving parents, her many friends and her patient husband.  See Tara’s staff page to learn more about her favorite mounts and their bio’s.

Tara and Family with Le Bronze Fleur at a show

Stonehouse Stables, Inc., was established on May 1, 1996, and is a family owned and operated full-service equine facility.  College professors Mayes and Cheryl Mathews (Saint Leo University and Christopher Newport University respectively) started the stables with their horsey daughter, namely Tara Mathews Best.  When Tara graduated from Christopher Newport University, Stonehouse Stables was established on Lakewood Farm on Forge Road in Toano, Virginia with Tara as manager, instructor, coach and President.  Since our beginning in 1996 Stonehouse Stables has focused on our mission of bringing horses and families together, hence the motto “Where Horses Meet Families”.  From a humble beginning with two employees, four school horses and a handful of boarders, Stonehouse Stables has grown into a thriving business with a 28 stall boarder barn and an additional 13 school horse stalls in a separate barn with school tack room.  Looking around today it is hard to remember that in 1996 there was no board fencing, only the 8 stall school barn, and only mud or grass unlighted riding areas.   We are proud of the business we have all built and now share with our many valued customers who are part of the Stonehouse Stables family.