Four Generations of Family in the Horse Business

Linda Sferra, owner of Lavenham Farm, has a passion for horses and has been riding all her life.  She is fortunate to have grown up in a horsey family; she is a fourth generation horse person.
Linda at Woodbrook
  Her great-grandfather owned and operated the Vinning & Davis Livery--"Horses Boarded & Hacks for Rent"--in the years before 1889 near the current location of Nordstrom in downtown Seattle.  Linda's grandmother grew up keeping and riding her pony on Capitol Hill in Seattle.  Later Linda's grandparents were among the top breeders and owners of thoroughbred race horses in Washington State from the 1950s-1980s. Linda used to help them prepare their colts for the select sale racehorse auctions.

Linda's mom Gloria
Linda's mother Gloria is an avid lifelong horse enthusiast.  She won 21 Washington State Championships showing her thoroughbreds in the 1970s.

Gloria was an active horseshow judge for 20 years.  She also rode the John Wayne Trail across the state of Washington seven times, and she rode the entire Chief Joseph Trailride route of 1000 miles through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.  Gloria is still riding as an octogenarian.

Linda's Background

Linda has been riding and working with horses all her life.  She began hunting with the Woodbrook Hunt Club in 1974, and she began showing in 1975.

During her teenage years and early 20s, Linda reclaimed herds of ex-racehorses.  This experience taught Linda tact and patience with horses, which she practices today when developing her young horses.  This method of dealing with horses has been deepened and refined by Linda's working with Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman.  Linda is hands-on with her own horses; that's how she learns what makes each one tick as an individual.  Above all Linda enjoys the gratifying process of teaching young horses.

Linda's Philosophy of Horse Husbandry

When owners entrust their horse(s) to Linda's care, she treats each horse as if it's her own.  This comes naturally to her because she loves every horse she's ever met; her own horses are a reflection of this to anyone who sees them.  Linda's way of practicing horsemanship is simple: the horse comes first.  Every horse under her care receives the highest standard of care regardless of the horse's monetary value.  Lavenham Farm specializes in caring for older retired show horses whose owners want total confidence of knowing their horses are beautifully looked after.  Linda expects every horse under her care to be in top condition regardless of whether the horse is showing; she sees to it that every horse is carrying good weight, a shiny coat & general bloom.  Equally important to the horse's physical health, is its interior mental health/emotional state.  Lavenham Farm is happy to cater to each horse's individual needs and preferences to maximize its well-being.

On the subject of horses’ soundness and good health, Linda believes in approximating a horse’s natural lifestyle as best she can.  Horses are kept moving by always being turned out except for being stalled in the winter at night.  They can socialize with other horses, and if owners prefer, they can be turned out with gentle roommates.  At Lavenham Farm we are fortunate to have enough acreage to make this possible.

Influential Horsemen

Linda’s credentials to board and train horses stem from the experts who have generously taught her.  Linda has been fortunate to have worked with some of the finest, most accomplished horsemen in the world.  Linda's most influential teacher is George Morris, former US Olympic Show Jumping Chef d’equipe (coach). Linda first rode with George in New Jersey in 1986.

John Whitaker and Linda
In 1994 Linda rode with George again on a borrowed racehorse at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.  Afterward George invited Linda to ride and show with him at Hunterdon, his farm in New Jersey, for the summer of 1994.  That summer was pivotal in Linda's development as a rider; she rode her own thoroughbred ex-racehorse jumper as well as many of George's horses.  From 1994 until 2018, Linda typically rode in two of George's clinics every year, one of which was always hosted by Rich & Shelley Fellers.  That clinic was George's most testing clinic of the year.

Having had over 25 years of consistent coaching from George, Linda is probably one of George's longest running continuous students. George gave Linda the gift of his system of producing top show jumpers and helping each horse to reach its maximum potential.  George’s system is rooted in classical horsemanship.

Similar to Linda's quest for knowledge with George, Linda has been riding with Buck Brannaman as much as two weeks per year since 2006.  Working with Buck presents a unique opportunity to educate our young horses and make them as safe and confident as possible for their future owners.

In addition to George and Buck, Linda has also been lucky to spend time with British show jumper John Whitaker, MBE, two time World Cup Winner on Milton, five time Olympian, and silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics.  She was honored to accept an invitation to ride his international speed horse Virtual Village Hunter's Level, a quite sharp horse.