Horse lover Ashely Woodford is the heart of Cavallo Farm. PHOTO BY JOYCE PELLINO CRANE

FEATURE: Cavallo Equestrian Center in Westford is Open for Business (Video Included)

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The Cavallo Equestrian Center on Powers Road is open for business.

The 24-acre horse facility, formerly known as Volo Farm, is under new ownership. Ann Laporte and her husband Anthony Scotto purchased the property in late August and set about clearing out weeds, removing debris, staining wood, replacing flooring, and cleaning out stables overrun by woodland animals.

“Now that we’re three months into it, we have 13 horses in the barn and we have the ability to have 46 horses,” said Laporte. (Scroll past the video to continue reading.)

Armed with elbow grease, a business plan, and a desire to help others, Laporte and Scotto are ready to make a go of their newly acquired equine business.

“The property has really good bones,” said Laporte. “When we looked at it, it was one of the deciding factors.”

The couple purchased the property on Aug. 31, with the plan that Laporte’s niece, Ashley Woodford, would run the operation together with Ashley’s husband, Jake.

Considering the economics of equestrian endeavors in recent years, it could be viewed as a bold move.

Nationwide, the number of farms containing horses dropped 12 percent between 2007 and 2012, from 576,000 to 505,000, according to the most recent U.S. census.

But since the downturn of the Great Recession in 2008, the industry is “showing some signs of improvement,” stated Ashley Furst, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based American Horse Council. “Breed registration trends are slowly starting to trend back up, but unfortunately still nowhere near where they were pre-recession…”

Previous owner Constance Ann Noble of Concord, purchased the property at 84 Powers Road in 2002 for $2 million under the name, Volo Farm, Inc. — $400k more than what Laporte and Scotto paid 15 years later. Noble shut down her operation in 2015, according to Laporte. The former owner could not be reached for comment.

In 2005 the equine industry was valued at $102 billion, according to the horse council’s economic impact study, with about $32 billion coming from the recreational segment, $28.8 billion coming from the showing segment, $26.1 billion from racing and $14.7 billion from other industry segments.

Laporte said there is still much to do, from clearing downed tree trunks to replacing fencing, but she’s ready to roll up her sleeves.

Among the amenities offered at Cavallo — which means “horse” in Italian — are two heated indoor wash stalls with hot and cold water, three grooming stalls, a heated tack room, an outdoor riding arena, and two indoor arenas, including one that’s heated.

The equestrian center offers boarding facilities, riding lessons at all levels, clinics, monthly horse shows, horse transportation, and arena rentals.

A former veterinary technician, Ashley Woodford began riding 20 years ago and is skilled in vaulting and dressage, a type of performance riding. Jake is a police officer in Southborough. The couple, both in their 30s, has two young children and live on the property.

Laporte, a former human resources professional in technology, is a sister to Ashley Woodford’s mother. Scotto is executive vice president of a global technology company.

“We’re just happy we can try to help. I mean, if (you) have the ability to help someone, I don’t care if it’s family or not, you should do it,” said Laporte.

Correction from the WestfordCAT News segment on Dec. 7: The name of the facility is Cavallo Equestrian Center.