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June 19, 2021

5/19/2021 9:41:00 AM
Doby Stable ownership changes hands, keeps tradition of offering horseback riding for people of all ages

By Kasi Greenwood
For many years, people of the Iowa County area and beyond have known Doby Stables as the place to go for horseback riding. Horseback riders have taken tours along an 100+ acre farm, or for about an hour through Governor Dodge State Park.
Thanks to a local family, that tradition will continue.
After 51 years of owning the horseback riding stable, Dave and Sandra Johnson are giving the ownership reins to Kristin and Dan Barr of Dodgeville.
Kristin Barr is no stranger to the stable as she had worked there throughout high school and was a trail guide, taking riders throughout the farm and Governor Dodge State Park.
While I grew up on a small beef cattle farm in the town of Mineral Point, our family did have horses, primarily for pleasure riding with family friends.
Although it had been a few years since I rode, I felt confident in my ability to pick up on riding. This past Friday, knowing that I would be out there to talk to Kristin, I decided to take a leap of faith and go out on a quick trail ride.
Barr had just gotten back from taking a small group on the trail, and she said one of her favorite moments of being a trail guide is when younger riders are excited about riding for the first time.
"We had a couple when they first got on that were nervous," Barr said. "But once we got back to the stable they asked their families 'can we do that again?' It's great to see their smiling faces."
While on the ride, Barr discussed what it was like to work at the stables.
"I've always enjoyed riding horses, and being able to give guided tours has been one of the best jobs of my life," Barr said.
Operating the horse stable has been a lifetime dream for Kristin, and Dan and Dave have both expressed support and confidence in her making her dream a reality. Kristin also said that their four children will gain lifelong skills by helping take care of the horses and help maintain the stables.
There will be some slight changes to make note of. There has been a recent zoning meeting regarding the property. At this time there are 10 horses, and there are plans to increase to 12 horses on a 15 acre lot. The Barr family will also build their home on the land to be closer to the horses. There will also be bathrooms added near the stable to meet ADA compliance guidelines.
Another part of the property is the Mineral Museum and Gift Shop. After the ride was over, Barr and I made our way up to the shop to talk with Dave.
While Dave feels this is the last year he can put in what is needed to keep the stables, he expressed that he will be helping up at the shop and museum. He expressed that owning a horse stable, gift shop and mining museum is no easy task.
"It is a lot of work, more than most people want to put in," he said. "I'll help wherever I can."
But for someone wanting to put in the hard work the business is there. Johnson pointed out that business traffic was on the positive end, especially during the COVID pandemic.
"Visits were really up during that time, since people really wanted to get outside," Johnson said.
"Horseback riding is a great safe way to do that," Barr said.
"So long as you don't have a horse that spooks," Johnson said. "We haven't had a lot of problems, but a horse that spooks changes that really quick."
When we were talking about the business, Johnson mentioned that one of the good qualities of the stables has been the young people Dave and Sandra have been able to employ for their summer jobs.
"All of the kids were good kids and went on to do many good things," Dave said. "More than 50 kids have worked at the stables throughout the years."
After 51 years in the stable business David Johnson knows it is time to pass his passion on to someone else. Johnson is now 86 years old and his wife Sandra is a resident at Bloomfield Manor.
"Dave has been a great mentor growing up," Barr said. "I've learned so much from him."
Finding that person or group has been difficult though, putting the future of Doby Stables, the gift shop and museum up in the air. When Kristin and Dan Barr expressed interest in taking over, Dave explained that there was no hesitation.
"She's been working here since she was 15," Johnson said. "I've always admired her work ethic and how well she does with the horses. I'm really excited that this will keep going. I know she'll do great."
Rides are available through one hour guided rides in Governor Dodge State Park or 45 minute guided rides on the ranch. The state park ride goes from May 1st to November 15th.
Contact Doby Stables at to schedule a horseback ride.

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