“I loved riding horses as a child,” says Monique Richter, who recently relocated to Jupiter Farms from her hometown of Fort Lauderdale. The longtime professional wakeboarder always dreamed of opening her own facility, and now that dream is coming true.
“My parents sent me to horse camp in Davie during summers, and I also did dressage,” recalls Richter. But her life turned from horses to the water at age 16. A talented wakeboarder, she took second place in the 2006 National Championship for the women’s open division and continued on a decade-long career in the sport. In 2015, however, she suffered a broken toe that forced her to retire from the sport. She switched gears, embarking on a career in boat transport in St. Thomas, eventually becoming a captain.
Richter had also shown talent in her early years in another area: art. She began studying boat exteriors and, believing she could make them look better, she gave it a shot. Just like that, the multifaceted Floridian was on to her next big success. Mixing modern, faux teakwood painting with Old World gold and platinum leaf lettering, she creates smashing exteriors on big-ticket sportfishing boats for the likes of Johnny Depp and Jimmy Buffet, as well as a variety of international boatbuilders including Viking Yachts. She works for 53 builders in total and paints around 20 boats a month.
But her love of horses never went away. She longed for the feeling she used to have as a young girl riding in Davie, and last summer, she decided to do something about it. She bought 10 acres in Jupiter Farms with the intention of transforming it into Blue Ridge Farms, her own personal horse farm—but with purpose. “I have made enough money painting boats to live my dream of being around horses and helping others understand them,” she says.
She plans to use the farm and her horses to help children with disabilities. On weekends, the property will be open to the public, allowing kids to pet and interact with the horses. Once kids become comfortable enough, they can ride her miniature horses and hopefully develop fulfilling friendships with the equines. Richter plans to offer more intense horse therapy in the future. “I hope to implement equine therapy to promote children’s mental and physical health, but I need to wait a while until everything is running smoothly before we begin,” she says. “My horse trainer will have expertise in equine therapy. I also want to breed mini horses and continue to implement more interaction with children and horses on a beginner’s level.”
Currently, Blue Ridge Farms includes Richter’s 3,000-square-foot home, plus a 16-stall barn and a mini barn for her three beloved miniature horses. She rescued two and saved one from slaughter—and she is thrilled that they have become part of her life. “Mini horses live to be 50, and the bigger ones can live to age 30,” she says. “It’s wonderful! I want them around for a long time.” She has enlisted the help of local horse expert Alex Bambauer to care for the horses while she is away painting boats.
She plans to board other horses during the dressage season and will also have a wedding venue on the property. The oak tree–covered property is still under construction but, says Richter, “there will be lots of trees, a walk-through archway with vines, a 30-foot fountain, and we already have a lake on the property.”
“It is so beautiful here,” she continues. “I have a tropical theme and am using black and white for the colors in honor of the horses.” She is also redesigning the paddocks so the horses will be able to come right up to her house and peep through the large windows that overlook the farm. “I want to see the horses every day,” she says. “I love Jupiter Farms. I found my happy place.”
If you are interested in visiting the facility, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Instagram: @blueridge_farms)