Lamplight Equestrian Center Builds on a Rich History

Sunday, January 31, 2016
Posted by Annan Hepner for Phelps Media Group

Lamplight Equestrian Center (Photo: Andrew Ryback)

Lamplight Equestrian Center (Photo: Andrew Ryback)

Wayne, Illinois - Lamplight Equestrian Center, one of the most beautiful equestrian show venues in the United States, is rooted in a century and a half of history. Located about 40 miles west of Chicago, the facility is a landmark in the quaint town of Wayne, Illinois. Over the years it has transformed from a Percheron breeding establishment to a large boarding barn, and during the past two decades, Lamplight has hit its stride as a world-class competition venue. Botanical gardens and elaborate landscaping set the facility apart, and riders travel from around the country in order to compete at Lamplight.

In 1865, Mark W. Dunham purchased Oaklawn Farm and began his breeding business of Percheron horses that he had originally purchased from France. The picturesque property was located in the Village of Wayne, Illinois, and by 1883, Dunham had acquired more than 1,700 acres. Oaklawn Farm became one of the largest horse breeders in the United States with over 1,300 horses on the property. Dunham enjoyed traveling to France on stock buying trips, and the Normandy chateaus inspired him to build Dunham Castle on the northwest side of Oaklawn.

Carly Taylor-Smith, Rosalut NHF, 2015 Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage Championships, Lamplight.

Carly Taylor-Smith and Rosalut NHF compete at the 2015 Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage Championships at Lamplight. (Photo: Annan Hepner)

Dunham passed away in 1899, and by 1929, Oaklawn Farm ceased to operate due to the reduced need for draft horses with the growth of farm machine technology. In the 1970s, 56 acres of the original Dunham Farm became a boarding facility that offered training and competitions to local riders in Wayne, St. Charles, and Geneva.

Over the years, the 55 acres has been developed with multiple arenas, barns, and schooling areas were added, as well as perennial gardens and beautiful landscaping. The show office and restaurant pavilion were created from two 19th century barns, and the classic yellow judge's booths were added along with the white spectator pavilion providing ringside seating.

Lamplight Equestrian Center (Photo: Annan Hepner)

Nina Moore, a local businessperson, amateur hunter rider, and Percheron owner, bought Lamplight Equestrian Center in January 2013. She immediately invested $1 million into the facility with the goal of taking Lamplight to the next level in order to host international competitions.

Five of the eight arenas were upgraded with European GGT footing, and the remaining three were improved with the addition of high-quality Kruse footing. Lamplight now offers show stabling for 1,200 horses with 300 permanent stalls and nine permanent base installations for tent stabling, which all include water, wash racks and electricity.

Today, equestrians can experience the historic feel and modern conveniences of Lamplight at prestigious shows in multiple disciplines. Events such as the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage Championships, the American Eventing Championships, the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions and the U.S. Para-Equestrian National Championships have all been held at Lamplight within the past several years along with A-rated hunter/jumper shows and regional dressage championships.