Our most important team members are our Fabulous Horses and Ponies! You can choose to ride & work with any of the following:
Helen Faulkner (Owner, Office Manager & Certified Riding Instructor)
Rob Faulkner (Owner, Cafe & Project Manager)
Laura King (Marketing Manager)
Sarah Hannaford (Equestrian Manager)
I first fell in love with horses at a school excursion to Little’s Animal Farm when I was 7. I was picked, out of my whole class, to sit on a big grey horse. For the next 7 years my parents had no peace. My parents kept a copy of my wish-list to Santa where I filled a whole page with “A horse, a horse, a horse…” By the time I was 14 I’d worn them down and got my first pony, Dusty - a black and white pinto. I loved him so much – he’d meet me at the gate every afternoon after school, and I rode him bareback everywhere. We went on great trail rides exploring the area and we made many good friends. He was freedom.
I always wanted to own a horse riding farm, so after finishing school I studied business management while working full-time in the travel industry and on weekends at Darkes Forest Riding Ranch. In 1997, when I was 21, I missed out on a promotion at work and decided to start my own business. I sent a proposal to the local shopping centre offering to dress as an elf and give people rides in a horse-drawn elf-mobile for Christmas. They loved it! We signed contracts and shook hands, and I didn’t dare tell them I’d never driven a horse and cart before.
Anyway, that terribly risky start led me to a Carriage Driving Career - driving my horse Cupid for Weddings, for Marie Bashir State Governor of NSW as part of a National Trust Opening Ceremony, for Willie Wonka in a Nestle Chocolate campaign around Darling Harbour, as a Tourist Guide of Braidwood (the highlight of which was my stint on the Sydney Weekender show with Mike Whitney, where I cracked a joke on National Television) and led to many newspaper, t.v. and radio interviews.
But BEST of all it led me to owning the most beautiful riding school in the world - with gorgeous horses and people to work with every day in a brilliant setting.
I originally started the riding school side of our business in Sutherland Shire, Sydney, using any paddocks I could find and flat grassed areas to teach on! But in 2003, my parents drove through Braidwood and thought my carriage would fit perfectly into this Heritage Listed town. I came down and fell in love with the area and bought this 168 acre property, with nothing but trees, grass and native animals on it (plenty of them!). My parents built the shed (which is now our fully fitted out Club-house, Café & Accommodation – by Rob) and we put the caravan inside it and I moved down with my horses. I worked in Canberra and on weekends gave lessons and carriage rides around Braidwood. In 2007, I was introduced to Rob by some of my riding lesson students from Sydney (thanks Caroline!) and Rob has transformed everything! We now have 3 gorgeous boys (keen riders themselves) and a really comfortable, beautiful place to live and work in. Any chance you have, we’d love to have you visit!!!
Working with children check number- WWC0661092E
I grew up in Wollongong, and my family had a holiday farm at Nerriga (50 kms from Braidwood) called The Faulkner’s Hereford Lodge. I loved helping my dad with the cattle, working on improving the quality of the pasture and riding my dirt-bike. We made some great friends in Nerriga and my dad still has a holiday “shed” there today. When I left school I went into the family business as a carpenter/joiner and worked alongside my dad for more than 10 years.
In 2007, while helping to repair the roof of the old general store in Nerriga, anotherfamily with a holiday farm in Nerriga stopped to have a chat. They invited me over to their place for dinner to meet a girl they knew through horse riding – because they thought we might get along.
We did! 18 months later we were married, and I had to leave my dad’s business in Wollongong and start a new career. They were keen for more bakers at The Braidwood Bakery and I’d always been interested in cooking. I worked there for a couple of years before moving over to my mate’s bakery – Dojo Bread. I’d work through the night and during the day I’d sleep and then help Helen with the carriage business and the riding school. I also went on to work as a Chainee with Bradley Surveying, and learnt heaps about the history of our area.
I bought my horse, Big Red, in 2010. He was short-listed for Show-Jumping in the Olympics many years ago, but his owner wouldn’t let him compete without him riding so they both missed out. He’s a 16.3 hh Hanoverian Warmblood and he’s a lot of fun to ride. A lot like my old motorbike. Goes and stops on command, jumps anything, easy to steer… Just joking – he was a great horse and I really valued his gentle temperament and the years of training that has been put into him. (Unfortunately, he passed away on his 27th Birthday).
Coming up to Christmas in 2012 we just got too busy here at The Saddle Camp, so I left my job to become the full-time Cook/Baker, Barrista, Babysitter, Gardener and Project Manager (that means I cook everything, build everything, and plan our future infrastructure). When you visit next you’ll see me making espresso coffees behind the swish counter (I built) in our Café.
I love our business and I can’t believe how lucky I am to be working at home with my family, having such a beautiful looking place to live and work, and meeting some great parents and children who all have similar interests. And its all thanks to our horses! Hope to meet you soon, Rob.
Working with children check number- WWC0267154E
It all began at the young age of 3 years old when I first started riding a family friends pony by the name of Molly. I rode Molly for many years and started having lessons at a riding school just outside of Bungendore when I was 7 years old.
When I was 8 I finally convinced my parents to allow me to get my first pony. Around this time I also met Helen and began to have regular visits to the Saddle Camp, not only for lessons and trail rides but for school sport as well. Helen also offered me a position to work on weekends and during the school holidays, which became my first ever job working with horses and continued to be for several years. It wasn't until I was 11 though when I gained the courage to join Pony Club and at that time began a higher level of training with Rebecca Lindwall. Bec introduced me to Eventing and had me competing at my first event at Bungendore One Day Event when I was 14. For the next couple of years I continued competing on my stock horse Opal and made it to Introductory level. Unfortunately as I grew older school became a higher priority and got in the way of my riding and I slowed down on the competing.
My passion for horses and Eventing became very serious to me when I turned 15 and got in contact with Australian Eventer, Bill Levett, who is based in the UK. Bill was the property/stud manager for my neighbour over 25 years ago and was introduced to Eventing by former gold and silver medallist Neale Lavis. Bill offered me a working pupil position which I would begin once I turned 18 and had finished school. Between these times I was able to also achieve 2 certificates that allow me to work in the horse industry with minimal supervision and on performance horse yards for all phases of riding.
January 2015 I began my journey to the UK and made my first big step into the horse industry - grooming/training higher level Eventers alongside 4 other Team Levett grooms for the next 9 months. At the beginning of October I then gained further experience at a Dressage yard in Surrey, not far from London, which I worked at for 6 weeks until eventually getting the chance to spend my last few weeks in the UK to travel.
I'm finally back home now and am absolutely ecstatic to be working as the Marketing Manager at the Saddle Camp alongside Helen, which is where my career in the horse industry first began! I will continue to work with horses as it is my dream to pursue a career with the animal and sport that I love!
My journey with horses started with a dream of one day owning my own horse. For my 10th Birthday my parents gave me a gift of riding lessons at The Saddle Camp with Helen. It was the best present ever! With my passions for horses, I soon realised that I wanted to have a career in the horse industry and dreamt that one day I might even own my own horse riding school. After I graduated from the formal riding lessons, eventually I talked my parents into getting my first horse, Barney. On weekends I got a job working at The Saddle Camp. Braidwood has been my home all my life. We live on a beef cattle property just outside of town. I think my love for horses is something I have inherited. I have been told that my Great Grandmother was an excellent horsewoman who was still riding in her 80's. I hope that I will be doing the same!
In 2011 I went to Loreto Normanhurst in Sydney. I was a border there from Year 7 to Year 12. Loreto gave me many great experiences and I made wonderful lifelong friends. Including living with 50 girls!! Whilst I was in Sydney I also completed my Certificate II in Children Services and obtained my First Aid Certificate. I completed this at TAFE for two years, which I enjoyed as I was working with children.
During the holidays, I would always love coming home to my family and friends and of course Barney. Often, we would agist Barney at The Saddle Camp during these holidays. This enabled me to be able to ride with friends and improve my riding skills. The holidays also gave me the opportunity to work at The Saddle Camp.
Finally after finishing my HSC at Loreto and Boarding, Helen and Rob offered me a job at The Saddle Camp as the Equestrian Manager which I am very excited to be doing and is my dream. I am currently completing my Horse Riding Level 1 Instructors Course.
I am living the dream working with Helen, Rob & Laura and of course all the beautiful horses at The Saddle Camp. I look forward to meeting you all when you come to visit!!!
When you ride at The Saddle Camp you can be assured that you are riding a safe, reliable horse, your gear has been fitted by a professional saddle fitter and is regularly inspected and maintained, you are being instructed by a professional qualified instructor and that you are fully covered by public liability insurance.
When you stay at The Saddle Camp you can be assured that you will sleep in secure, comfortable and clean accommodation, there is full adult supervision in the room just next door and that your nutritious, but fun, meals will be thoughtfully prepared (with most vegetables freshly harvested from our own kitchen garden).
The Club-House accommodation is for GIRLS ONLY.
If you've had to field the question 'can I have a pony' you've already needed to think about the financial and logistical responsibility that goes along with saying yes! Despite the expense and commitment, horse-riding is a fantastic way to build a child's self-esteem and often leads to lasting friendships both human and equine.
So what if there was a compromise - a happy medium where your child could experience all the joy of owning and caring for a pony without the need to buy one straight away or at all?
This is where The Saddle Camp has become the perfect solution (or delaying tactic) for the parents of horse-loving children across NSW (and beyond!).
Your daughter will have the opportunity to try all those things she dreams about - jumping, riding bareback, cantering, riding out for picnics, plaiting up for shows or anything else she can think of we'll be happy to make happen.
Not only will we make it happen - but we'll keep her safe doing it too. We have 6 very well trained horses that we have owned for years and know well (their strengths & weaknesses, and what they can and can't do). They are a part of our own family, and we feel a strong responsibility to their welfare and happiness just as much as we do to your daughter.
The Saddle Camp offers a safe, fun-filled, exciting adventure for your daughter where she will be with a small group of girls with plenty in common, riding quiet horses and welcomed as part of our family.
We’re on a 168 acre scenic property in the Southern Tablelands just 10 minutes’ drive from the historic town of Braidwood – 1 hour from Canberra, 40 minutes from Batemans Bay and 3 hours from Sydney. There is full mobile phone reception, and in the rare event it is needed - the hospital is just 10 minutes away and on-site First Aid trained staff and equipment is constantly on hand.
Drop off your daughter on your way for a holiday at the Coast, and rest assured she’ll be as safe, well-fed and having as much fun as you are (if not more!).
Helen & Robert Faulkner (with Blake, Dexter & Carson)