Restoring a Farm
Paul Mashni and Bob Venberg revitalized land on the Kiawah River to create the area’s most beautiful stables.
BY CLAIRE VOLKMAN
On the banks of the Kiawah River, situated on 60 acres of grassy meadows and oak trees draped with moss, is Kiawah River Stables. Once a private farm, owners and real estate investors Paul Mashni and Bob Venberg purchased it in 2016 with a dedicated purpose in mind—to bring the farm, and the land, back to its original glory. As anyone in the Charleston area knows, this is no easy feat.
“We immediately saw, when we purchased it, the potential of expanding the farm and really doing some extraordinary landscaping with it. We wanted to turn it into a more enjoyable place, not just for our boarders, but for people who live in the area and people who visit,” Mashni said. “It was a diamond in the rough that really wasn’t that hard to uncover.”
When you’re working on a canvas as beautiful as Kiawah Island, you don’t really need to add too many different splashes of paint to create a beautiful picture. And that’s what Mashni and Venberg found as they worked to restore the farm to its original glory.
“There wasn’t that much work that really needed to be done. We personally just had a significant amount of capital infusion we wanted to invest in,” Mashni said. “We wanted to expand the grounds and wanted the people who showed up to feel that it was both special and well-manicured and well-landscaped.”
Despite being open for just shy of a month, the stables have already garnered some recognition in the Charleston area, primarily because they’re set on such an incredibly beautiful plot of land. However, it’s not just the land or the horse stables that set this place apart—it’s the passion Mashni and Venberg have for bringing the space back to life that really play a huge part in the locals’ admiration.
“The neighbors have been fantastic and we’ve met some of the most charming people in the world. People who have gone back decades in the area, and they’ve truly embraced us and what we’re doing,” Mashni said. “The owners love it, too. Most horse farms don’t offer the views and the space that we have.”
The reputation of the farm is really growing significantly, primarily because the equestrian community in Charleston is still a bit small.
“The people who are using our stables already, whether through boarding or lessons, have known about us since we purchased the farm a year ago, and have truly watched the transformation of the land and the services,” Venberg noted.
Beyond just people in the community, though, locals and tourists are discovering the farm by word of mouth and the Charleston Visitors Bureau, which is helping garner an even stronger reputation for the brand new business.
“People approach it and think, ‘Wow, this is so beautiful and we had no idea it was even here,’” Venberg said.
Even though Mashni and Venberg didn’t purchased the stables as a purely business incentive, the boarding and regular lessons are the real bread-and-butter. A full-month boarding, complete with feed and training space, is $950 per month, while lessons (regardless of experience) start at $50 per month.
However lucrative it can be to run a successful stable in the fastest growing tourist region in the country, it’s not why Mashni and Venberg opened up the farm in the first place. Their passion project lies in the children’s camps.
“What’s really special is that our trainer Emily’s husband works at the local elementary school,” Mashni said of their trainer Emily Hertz Chadwell. “There are some disadvantaged families there who don’t have the financial means to provide their kids with the chance to ride or interact with horses—which is really what led us to open a kids camp to just the school,” Mashni said.
In addition to a children’s camp, the stables are full-service. There are top-notch boarding facilities, an elite training program led by acclaimed horse trainer Hertz Chadwell and also horsemanship camps for kids and teens. Kiawah River Stables aims to be one of the most all-encompassing stables in the Charleston area. More than that, the 60-acre farm also houses a new full-size arena, picturesque pasture areas, ponds equipped with fountains and two docks to the Kiawah River.
With their background in real estate development, another top priority for Mashni and Venberg is the potential the farm has as a multi-faceted venue space, especially for charitable functions.
“We’ve always had a huge commitment to charity as a part of our everyday business model. One of the things we really want to focus on is offering a space for charities to be able to host fundraising events or auctions so they can raise money,” Mashni said. “Any charities we can partner with that focus on helping people in need, assisting kids or offering a give back to the community is really important to us.”
Their approach to their business is as refreshing as the stables’ view. “Before we opened, we spent a significant amount of time understanding the offerings of the other stables in the area. Our number one goal has always been to share a beautiful space with the locals and use the place for purely the benefit of others, not as a money-making entity,” Mashni said.
Most importantly, Mashni, Venberg and the entire team at Kiawah River stables just want others to enjoy the land as much as they do. “The Goal to continue that rich culture with a focus on creating a tranquil, relaxing, family-friendly environment. There is a lot of pleasure in watching others enjoy Kiawah River Stables the way we do,” Mashni said. “The farm is designed to be enjoyed by everyone, and the setting is just stunning with its majestic, stately live oak trees, green pastures, and the breathtaking views of the Kiawah River.”