Sliding glass doors receded outside the walls to allow for breezes to flow through the living room of the main house at Ludlum Farm. The view opens out to a lake and fountains with horses grazing in the background. ROB DOWNEY PHOTOS
Renowned farm provides haven for horses and humans in Palm City
BY GREG GARDNER
The lakefront home at Ludlum Farm opens out in all directions to horses and nature with magnificent views and breezes.
“It is very peaceful when you come in the gates and the horses love it here, too,” says Melissa Gelatt, who along with husband, Philip, bought the 55-acre horse farm in Palm City five years ago. The largest fully-operational dressage horse facility in South Florida — including Wellington — Ludlum Farm has its own covered dressage arena, a veterinary hospital and 68 stalls surrounded by beautifully manicured paddocks and pastures.
The Gelatts raise and train horses in Wisconsin during the summer and at Ludlum Farm in the winter. While previous farm owners raised Friesian horses from the Netherlands, the couple raises Lusitano horses from Portugal and Brazil.
The three-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath home is completely encircled by 2,000 square feet of screened deck. The sliding doors all recede behind the outside walls to offer as much crossbreeze as possible throughout the house.
“The designer was a genius,” Melissa Gelatt says. “This is a hacienda. It is well-oriented for sunlight and the wrap-around porch is very nice. My husband loves to sit outside and you don’t get chewed up by bugs. Everywhere you look, you see horses and nature.”
Melissa has lived in South Carolina where everyone has wrap-around porches, but she says she finds this outside deck special since it is entirely screened in. She loves the soft, pleasant air that blows through the house during the winter. Using stem-wall construction, there is crawl space under the house and the additional elevation adds to the views.
The couple has seen two families of rare Sherman fox squirrels, deer and a green heron as well as common birds, turtles and critters. Madagascar and black-belly whistling ducks waddle the property, dodging the horses.
An exotic 18-inch lizard lives around the waterfalls. “I’ve been trying to look up what kind of lizard he is, but there are so many kinds,” she says. “I’ve never seen anything like him.” A family of owls lives comfortably and undisturbed in one of the barns.
The private island shaded by a lone pine tree is a great location for a picnic with 360-degree views of the stocked lake.
Steve the peacock acts more like a pet guard dog than a wild bird. Philip likes to feed him right outside the door to the pool area. On a recent weekend, Steve was there, apparently waiting for his meal of cracked corn and kitten chow. When strangers come around, Steve squawks to let everyone know there are intruders.
“He really likes people,” Melissa says. “You can’t pet him, but he really likes my husband because he always feeds him. He just gives him that look, ‘Well, are you going to feed me?’ ”
It’s just a short walk from the living room to the walkway leading to an island in the lake with two waterfalls and two fountains. Off the kitchen is a huge veranda with salt-water pool, spa and gazebo — all screened. The kitchen pass-through is a complement to the nearby barbecue grill for complete service. A few feet away is the full wet bar.
“It is perfect for entertaining,” Melissa says. The couple has entertained 30 people at the house, but there is room to host five times that many guests comfortably.
A short walk from the main house is a cozy, western-themed clubhouse. The Gelatts completely transformed a barn for huge Dutch stallions into a comfortable gathering place with the feel of an equestrian lodge. Visiting owners and grooms can enjoy drinks in the lounge or dinner in the dining room, served from the new kitchen. A shower and dressing room were built so guests could finish working with horses and then go out to dinner nearby instead of going home first.
Only the best for these horses at Ludlum Farm, a premier dressage training facility complete with a veterinary hospital.
WORLD FAMOUS TENANTS
Adding 35 acres to the existing 20 acres, the second owner of the property built the infrastructure of the farm as it is today. An antique car buff, he built two five-car garages. One is functional while the other was converted into guest quarters. Since the farm was established in 1992, hundreds of horses — including international competitors — have trained at Ludlum Farm.
“Sometimes owners bring their horses and need a place to stay,” Gellat says. To the south is a 300-acre preserve owned by the Treasure Coast Wildlife Animal Hospital and presumed never to be developed.
When the couple first bought Ludlum Farm, they installed attractive stone tilework throughout the common areas and leading down to the living room. New paint, granite counters and stainless-steel appliances completed the kitchen makeover. Outside landscaping was revitalized.
Decks leading up to the front of the house were recently replaced including a walkway over a lake stocked with tilapia and Japanese carp. A much larger lake also serves as drainage for the property and is also stocked with fish.
With sliders on two sides of this guest bedroom, breezes blow right through. The corner room also has a wide vista of the property.
“The farm was designed around this house,” Gellat says. “You step outside and you’re out with nature. We enjoy the wildlife, watching the horses. The light coming through the trees changes all the time.”
After five years on the farm, the Gelatts have decided to sell so they may spend more time with their five grandchildren who are scattered across the country in San Francisco, Denver, Washington, D.C. and Providence, R.I. The property is listed for sale by the Horsepower Team at BHHS Florida Realty for $5,495,000.