H & H Stables Continues to Build Upon Wild Air Farm’s Legacy

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May/June 2024

Once upon a time, there was a magnificent and prestigious horse show in Zionsville, Indiana—Traders Point Hunt Charity Horse Show (TPHCHS), located on 250 acres of tranquil countryside known to the equine community as “Wild Air Farm.”

H & H Stables

The “South” farm, as Wild Air Farm is known to those with ties to the property, is located south of Oak Street at 7550 Hunt Club Road. The “North” farm, located north of Oak Street, was once the residence of the patriarch and matriarch of the Johnson family. Now, those 260 acres are being developed into a multi-faceted residential community.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chad and Krista Hughes, who own and operate H&H Stables, LLC, at Wild Air Farm. H&H operates and manages barns and horse shows at the farm.

They shared insights into their operations and their vision for the property’s future, which they are working on bringing to fruition in collaboration with the current owner Zachary “Zach” Johnson.

An Extraordinary Legacy

Established by Sylvester and Elizabeth “Liz” Johnson decades ago, Wild Air Farm has remained a cornerstone of equestrian excellence. Besides their contributions to the equine community, the Johnsons were instrumental in hosting numerous philanthropic events that have benefited local organizations and the town of Zionsville over the years.

Wild Air Development

A passionate equestrian, Liz Johnson devoted her life to the sport and made significant philanthropic contributions, especially to Riley Hospital for Children. Johnson founded the TPHCHS in 1977, growing it into one of the top horse shows in America, recognized by the American Horse Show Association and attended by over 10,000 spectators at its peak.

I have a personal affinity for the Johnson family and Wild Air Farm. I had the honor of volunteering for the Johnson family, serving as the publicity chair for the TPHCHS in its final years. This nationally renowned event, which ran for nearly four decades, generated well over $1 million for charities.

The incomparable Liz Johnson passed away on April 30, 2022, at 94, and her son, John “Johnny” Johnson, passed away on May 17, 2021. Johnny’s son Zach inherited not only the property, but assumed the responsibility of stewarding his family’s extraordinary legacy as well.

Using the Land for Its Intended Purpose

Today, Chad and Krista Hughes and their daughter Kelli, in collaboration with Zach Johnson, are revitalizing the farm to reclaim its status as central Indiana’s premier destination for horse shows, lessons and boarding facilities.

Chad Hughes is the president of H&H Stables, and, with the help of his daughter Kelli [Hughes], Nathan Rabensteine and Jim Farmer, the organization has completed three successful show seasons. He is a captain of the Carmel Fire Department and is in his 30th year with CFD. Hughes has been in fire service since 1989. Hughes and his wife Krista have been married for 25 years. The Hugheses have diverse backgrounds that include owning H&H Realty Group and owning/managing Airbnbs on the White River in Noblesville.

H & H Stables

“We have recently resigned our long-term lease with Zach, so we’re going to be out here [Wild Air Farm] for many years to come,” Hughes shared. “The property is unlike anything else in the area. When you’re out here, you can’t believe you’re in Zionsville. It’s really amazing what potential the property holds, and our future is bright out here.”

Hughes continued, “We are affiliated with the Indiana Hunter Jumper Association (IHJA)—they are local schooling shows. Our show bill and schedule are posted on H&H Stables on Facebook, and our Instagram presence is growing. What we do really well is horse management from shows, boarding and care, and just being a good steward in the equine community. Kelli operates the boarding and lesson program at the barn with the assistance of Nathan Rabensteine, and Jim Farmer is our show manager. He’s been at the farm since 1964. They have helped tremendously [with] taking [H&H] to another level this year.”

The Hugheses shared that the farm has aging infrastructure, so they envision increasing funding opportunities while maximizing Wild Air Farm’s potential. To achieve this, they are developing a nonprofit organization, enabling them to apply for grants and accept donations to secure the future of both current and upcoming initiatives.

“The integration of our nonprofit is going to [be] vital to the long-term success of the farm,” Hughes explained. “Krista is the CEO of Community Farm, Inc., our nonprofit. We’ve talked with Zach about it, and he’s excited about the doors that can open for us and the success and sustainability of the farm. The property is underutilized, and we want to maximize the opportunities [at the farm] in a measured and conservative manner in which we are good stewards of the property and can expose the property to the community in a responsible manner.”

Hughes emphasized his desire to invite the public to come out to Wild Air Farm and experience the farm’s beauty and grandeur by attending any of the upcoming horse shows.

“Come out and see it for yourselves,” Hughes said. “Admission is free, and the shows generally run [from] 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. There’s a food vendor if you want to grab something to eat and drink. So, come out and enjoy the show and competition at a local level with local riders—some of [whom] might be neighbors and friends!”

H & H Stables

For more information on H&H Stables and its lessons, boarding and horse shows, contact Kelli Hughes at 317-945-7250 or via Facebook. Be sure to follow H&H Stables on Facebook @H&H Stables LLC and on Instagram @hhstablesllc.