By Martie Thompson
Susie Peterson’s fascination horses began when she went to summer camp at age 11 and fell in love with a black horse named Lightning. Now she and her husband Mike live in Switzerland on 10 acres and have six horses, which includes four Paint Horses, a miniature horse and a Belgian draft horse.
Susie, a Jacksonville native, moved to Ponte Vedra Beach as a teenager and attended both Fletcher and Wolfson High Schools. She worked at Prudential and married young and had two daughters. She eventually worked as a Realtor with Century 21 and Watson in the early ‘80s before marrying Mike, her second husband, and blending their families 30 years ago.
They were living in Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach when he asked her if she was ready to go live in the country and have those horses she had always wanted. So they moved to Orangedale on State Road 13 and bought their first horse, a Paint Horse, in 1993. They raised Paint Horses and had 13 of them when they moved to Whitelock Farms in 2001 for a larger and newer home.
By 2007, Mike Peterson wanted to live in the mountains, so they moved to Montana and brought 21 horses with them. They enjoyed the wide open spaces in Montana until Susie Peterson began missing her children (four between them) and five grandchildren. And, as she said, “The snow and ice were also a factor!”
In 2014, she moved back to Florida and he followed a few years later after staying behind to sell the Montana property. Now they live on a “work in progress” home on acreage in Switzerland, with their horses and big dogs: two St. Bernards and a malamute.
- What do you enjoy most about living in St. Johns County?
I love this little slice of heaven. Our property feels like the country, yet we live close enough to town for shopping. I love the oak trees and fruit trees on our property. I look out the windows and see our horses grazing in the pasture; it is very tranquil and peaceful. There is just something about seeing the sun shining and the horses’ silhouettes.
2) What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
We are happy and healthy and everything is paid for! It’s a nice place in life to be. We enjoy what we have.
3) What are your favorite things to do with your grandchildren?
We have so much fun. We ride the horses and swim in the pool. We also have a drone that we enjoy flying over the horses.
4) What is your favorite thing to do with the horses?
We love to go trail riding. We put them in the trailer and then either go to the Julington/Durbin Trailhead off Bartram Park Boulevard or across the Shands Bridge to Bayard off State Road 16. We also ride on our own property. We even have an obstacle course for the horses out back.
5) If you could take three things to a deserted island, what would they be?
I would take wine, a horse and just one of my dogs … but it would be hard to pick which one.
Photo courtesy Susie Peterson
Susie and Mike Peterson ride their Paint Horses, Magic and Cheyenne.