Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pony Farm's Top 10 Tips to Get Ready for Camp

We can't wait to greet you!
As summer approaches, are you wondering what the best ways are to get ready for camp? Just about everything and anything you want to know about camp is on the Pony Farm pages on our website.

However, as the time for camp gets closer, we thought you might appreciate some highlights – so today we present our Top 10 ways to prep for Pony Farm.

10. Come for a Tour – For newbie campers, a visit can be a HUGE help to quell camper anxieties. “Where do I go when I arrive?” “Where will I sleep?” “What are the bathrooms like?” “Where will I put my clothes?” Schedule a tour by contacting Becky Sanborn, Co-Camp Director, at

This is us, from the sky.
9. Fill Out Those Forms, Forms, Forms – Not nearly as fun as #10, but all the forms are important and help us get to know your camper before she arrives. Your camper's paperwork is due June 1. Getting your forms in on time ensures that we’ll be ready for your arrival. You'll find all the forms right here.
This is Becky. She is so happy when
she receives camper forms. Really.
 8. Refresh That Inhaler – Every summer campers arrive with inhalers, Epi-pens, or other prescription meds that are already expired. Now is the perfect time to check that your camper has current prescriptions filled for any medications that she needs. The camp forms contain instructions about sending prescription meds your camper needs with her and authorizing us to administer them.
Summer: time for trail rides, friendship,
sunshine ... and allergens. Be prepared!
7. Download the Packing List Our packing list is located on our website. This is our 44th summer of Pony Farm, so we kind of have what to pack down to a science! 
We even have a packing list for the horses!
(A zebra costume isn't on it.)
 6. What Not to Wear – No, not the TV show! Please don't send anything that you don't want to risk being lost or damaged. Summer camp is hard on clothes, jewelry, etc. Put your camper's name on anything and everything that you would like to return home with her. This is especially important for her riding helmet, boots, tights, and half chaps, which are pretty hard to tell apart.
See what we mean?
6A. What Not to Pack – You can read Pony Farm policies, but the highlight it is...leave cell phones – in fact, all your camper's electronics – at home. We encourage a different kind of connection — with each other, the horses and other animals, the outdoors and nature. Plug into Pony Farm!

5. Check out Arrival Info and Departure Info – You can make drop-off and pick-up days less stressful for your camper (and you!) by knowing what to expect.
We have a system.

 4. Bookkeeping Note – (No catchy title here. Sorry.) Don't forget that the balance of your payment is due May 1. You can send us a check, payable to Touchstone Farm, or pay online via credit card.

3. Read the Directions – To Pony Farm, that is! We have directions on our website. NOTE: If you are a GPS user, enter 818 Putnam Rd, Temple, NH, into your unit. (Some GPS units think 13 Pony Farm Lane is in the middle of the woods on the other side of town. It isn't.)
This isn't us. Not even close.
2. Find More Tips and Tricks to Get Ready for Camp – ACA New England has wonderful resources for camp families. This ACA article inspired our top 10 list.

1. Pack a Smile and a Great Attitude! – Your camper is about to have a magical experience! Be sure to send her off with a smile and a sense of adventure!
High five!
 Questions? Feel free to email Becky, Co-Camp Director, at

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Auction to Benefit Operation Horse Power at Touchstone Farm

Nov. 8 FINAL Update: Holy smoke, you folks are fantastic! Because of you, this auction raised over $4,000 for Operation Horse Power. Thank you all - both bidders and donors - so much for participating!

Scroll down to see the winners of the individual items and the amount of the winning bids - look for blue text.

If you are a winner, please:
  1. Email with your name and contact information so that we can arrange to get your prize to you.
  2.  Complete the payment for your item either by 
    • sending a check to Touchstone Farm, 13 Pony Farm Lane, Temple, NH 03084, or 
    • paying online via our donations page on our website (choose Operation Horse Power for the "Apply My Gift" option). 

Welcome to our auction of items donated by friends, supporters, staff, board members, and family members of Touchstone Farm!

These wonderful folks have donated something for everyone -- from the loaner of a pickup truck with a full tank of gas to a personal photo shoot with an award-winning photographer.

Proceeds from this auction will fund Touchstone Farm's new programs for veterans and their families, which we call Operation Horse Power.

Rules of the Game

Follow the updated directions below to enter a bid.
  • The auction will run online from Monday, November 3, 9 AM, to Friday, November 7, 12:00 midnight EST. 
  • By 9 PM daily, except on Friday Nov. 7, we'll update this post with the high bids for the day.
  • Any items that don't achieve at least their minimum bid will be auctioned live at our special Gala Benefit on Saturday, November 8, at the Elkus Manfredi Architects offices in Boston, MA.
  • The winning bids will be posted by noon on Saturday November 8, except for items that didn't achieve their minimum bid and that will be auctioned live that evening.
  • We'll notify winners by email regarding how to pay for and obtain your item.

How to Bid

  • Bid on an item by entering a comment on this post. 
  • Include the item you're bidding on and the amount of your bid. 
  • You'll need to select a profile to enter a comment:
    • If you have a Google login, you can provide your Google email address to enter a comment. (Don't worry, the email won't be displayed for others to see.) 
    • If you do NOT have a Google login, you can chose Name/URL and enter a name for yourself (don't enter your email address). 
    • Please DO NOT choose "Anonymous" as we'll have no way to associate your bid with you.
    • You'll be prompted to enter a word verification before your comment can be posted. Type the displayed letters or numbers to continue with posting.
  • You can include bids for multiple items in one comment. Just be clear about which amount goes with which item.
  • If you're outbid by another bid, you can enter a new comment with a higher bid.

The Items

Tip: You can click on a photo to see a larger image.

1. 4 Red Sox Tickets
The Sox will be pennant contenders next year!! And you and your friends can be there at a home game during regular season. We are offering 4 Red Sox tickets to the highest bidder. Date to be arranged with the donor.

Value $200.

Winning Bid $150 Liz Groff Colgan
2. 4 Boston Bruins Tickets
Like to watch brawny guys push each other around? Bid on 4 Bruins tickets for a home game during regular season. Date to be arranged with the donor.

Value $250.

Winning Bid $250 Cool Joe
3. Photo Session with John Mottern

John Mottern is the photographer who takes such wonderful pictures of Pony Farm campers and their ponies! He is also the photographer of the stunning images we are using for Operation Horse Power.

John will meet you at any location within reason and photograph your horses, kids, family, fashion, etc. Session includes DVD and two prints. Bid high on this one!

Value $250. 

Winning Bid $160 Linnea
4. Lake Umbagog, NH, Getaway Weekend (with Boo!)

Eagles, moose, deer, and a beautiful lake – and possibly even the Northern Lights! Spend an idyllic 3 days and 2 nights at Boo’s camp on Lake Umbagog. Maybe you'll even see the Northern Lights!

Boo will escort you in on her float boat and help with the cooking and clean up. Swim, relax, and enjoy great conversation around the campfire. Canoes and kayaks are available for you use as well. (You bring your food and drink.) Maximum of 6 people.

A “priceless” opportunity.

Winning Bid $300 Regina Kelleher
5. One Special Night for Two at the Equinox Resort, Manchester Village, VT

Your stay at this luxury resort and spa includes a deluxe room, use of the resort amenities, free valet parking, and free wireless internet (although we recommend the hot tub instead).

The “catch” – this night needs to be used before 12/20/14! Do some Christmas shopping or go for a complete “chill” weekend before the hectic holiday season.

Value $500.

Winning Bid $160 Hope Rupley
6. Inflatable Kayaks for a Week

Relax and enjoy the lake or the ocean in a kayak. Bid on the use of two inflatable kayaks (which means you can take them with you in the trunk of your car) for a week. These kayaks have been used on lakes, in the ocean, in rough waters and in calm ones. If you have ever rented a kayak for a day, you know how great this item is!

Value $450.

No bidders - auctioned live at the benefit.
7. A Pickup Truck to Go

Please Note: This is not the real truck!
The actual pickup is big and modern and runs just fine.
Dog not included.
Ready to clean out your basement, attic, or barn? Bid on the use of a pick-up truck for a weekend to be determined by the owner and get all that stuff to the dump or Goodwill (or to your favorite relative).

Full tank of gas included!

Value $250. 

Winning Bid $75 Frades Frades
8. Professional Tax Return Preparation

Tax season is coming (it’s always coming!). Get your taxes done by a professional and highly experienced registered tax return preparer. From PHC Tax Service,  - one free tax return preparation, limited to an individual, family, or small business Sole Proprietorship or Single-Person LLC (no S or C corporations). The three highest bidders will each receive preparation of one tax return.

Est. Value $250 (each).

1 Winning Bid $60 Shilo Porter
9. Peterborough, NH, Getaway at the Jack Daniels Inn

Experience Peterborough, New Hampshire – the original “Our Town” – and enjoy an overnight stay at our local country motel. The Jack Daniels Inn is located right on the Contoocook River and within easy walking distance of the beautiful and bustling downtown. Great shopping and restaurants are there for you to enjoy. Can be used any time of the year.

Value $110.

Winning Bid $50 Lori Ratchelous
10. One Week at Pony Farm Summer Camp

Want your horse-crazy daughter to love you forever? Bid on a week of Pony Farm Summer Camp (sessions 1, 5A, or 5B only) and then sit back on enjoy the expression on her face when you tell her the news.

Value $1700. 

Winning Bid $800 Hope Rupley
11. SoWine, Case of Wine, and Reidel Wine Glasses

Wine lovers take notice!! We are offering an SoWine machine which chills and preserves two bottles of wine at proper temperature for up to ten days. This wonderful machine has the ability to keep your reds and whites at their own proper temperatures. Included is a case of mixed wine and six Reidel wine glasses.

Value $800. 

Winning Bid $300 Erin
12. Signed “Gossip Girls” Series Books

If you know a teenager or young adult, you have probably heard of Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girls series, which revolves around the lives and romances of the privileged teenagers at the Constance Billiard School for Girls.

A new paperback set retails for around $140 but bid high on this set, which is autographed by the author.

Value = priceless!

No bidders - auctioned live at the benefit event.
13. A Week of Carriage Driving “Immersion”

Seasoned or beginner carriage drivers - bid high on this five-day driving immersion week at Touchstone Farm in Spring 2015. The package includes food, lodging, and two lessons a day culminating in a final lesson with world renowned driver Muffy Seaton. Learn and/or perfect your harnessing, hitching, and driving skills in an intensive and fun week at the farm.

Value $1,200. 

Winning Bid $510 Sue English
14. Birthday Party with Ponies and 10 of Your Child's BFFs

What kid wouldn't want a birthday party on a horse farm? Bid on this special package for your child's next birthday. We provide the farm, the pony rides, hayride, and a special cake and ice cream from Connolly's Dairy for up to 10 children. (You bring other food and decorations.)

Value $200.

Winning Bid $50 Cindi Connolly
15. Mother-Daughter Weekend at the Farm

Mothers and daughters, this is your time to bid for two spots at annual Mother-Daughter Weekend on Dec. 5-7, 2014. Join the fun and the special bonding that happens when mothers and daughters get together with a bunch of horses - it's magic! Can’t make it this year? No problem – come to one of our December 2015 weekends instead.

Value $700. 

Winning Bid $375 Catherine Lyle
16. Signed Annie Leibovitz Photo

World renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz has generously donated an autographed photograph for our auction. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to own a special piece of art by a very special artist.

Value – Priceless.

We had to pull this item from the online auction due to unforeseen circumstances. We will have two archive prints from Ms. Leibovitz to auction in 2015!
17. Fly-Fishing Lesson from a Pro

Does standing in wading boots and casting a rod appeal to you? Robert Silva - a fly fisherman with 42 years of experience - will provide the equipment and a lesson for this popular fishing experience. These lessons will go to the two highest bidders at the river or stream of your choice (or Robert's expert pick).

Value $200.

Winning Bid $175 Bandusian
18. Authentic Amish Quilt

For beauty and utility, nothing beats a quilt, and this one is really special. This handmade Amish quilt from Lancaster County, PA, was crafted by T. Witwer in 2013 and comes with authentication papers. Own a true original!

Value $500.

Winning Bid $100 Shilo Porter
19. Unique Glass Sculpture

Up and coming borosilicate glass artist Scotty Mickle, originally from Boston, and now working in Boulder, CO, donated one of his beautiful ocean pieces. This wonderful piece is six inches high and one of a kind. Please visit his website at to see more of his work.

Value $250 

No bidder - auctioned live at benefit event.
20. “Gruffy’s Herd” Handmade Quilt

This large and cozy lap quilt was created especially for this auction. The quilt front is intricately pieced in warm, rich fall colors. The backing fabric features an equine print … the herd Gruffy leads in his dreams.

Value $300. 

Winning Bid $225 Shilo Porter

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pony Farm Session 5B - Rocking a Rainy Day

Dear Camp Families,

This is my last blog of the camp season.  It makes me sad to think that Saturday we return your children to you and start sending our visiting horses home. 

People often ask me if I am glad that Pony Farm is over for the year. I am never glad camp is over. When the final session is done, however, I will admit I'm glad the responsibility of camp is over.  I love it, but it is a lot!  (And that is what they call an under statement.)

You might be wondering what your cherubs have been up to this week. We have been busy with riding lessons, camping trips, trips to swim at the falls, catch riding, carriage driving, hanging out with the small animals, and swimming in the pool!

You might also be wondering what we do on a day like Wednesday when it poured all day. I'm happy to report that after 43 years, Pony Farm knows how to make the most of a rainy day.

Campers find out the rainy day plan of attack
In the morning we started with tack cleaning. That's a job that comes with the sport of riding, and every rider needs to know how to do it. It's no one's favorite task, but it that makes it kind of a life skill as well!

After tack cleaning, we had a barn competition to get the barns (upper, lower, and outside) spiffed up.  The barn crew who cleaned the best, cleared away the most trash, and returned the most items to the lost and found won ... a whole candy bar.

Now you might think a candy bar isn't much of a reward.  But typically there isn't any candy at Pony Farm. A whole candy bar is a big deal in these parts.  In fact, the competition got pretty steep. Some campers took other team's trash and then were eventually disqualified because they continued to not listen to the rules when they were VERY CLEAR.  (Who knew trash could be so valuable? And that barn cleaning competition turns out to be a life skill, too!)

In the afternoon we played a horse trivia game with five teams of campers. The trivia topic was -- you guessed it -- horses!  (There might have been candy involved in this too!)

The horse trivia board: "I'll take Clydesdales for 500, Alex."

 Wednesday night we played Personal Scavenger Hunt, one of my favorite camp games. We divide the camp into teams.  Then, we ask a trivia question about the farm, horses, maybe pop culture, or the campers might have to sing or dance.  Each team sends one member up to slap the table to answer the question.  The first person to slap the table gets to answer.  We keep score and the team with the most points wins.  In good weather, we play on the back lawn, but it was too wet for that, so we played in the indoor arena. Not as pretty inside, but very dry!

Thursday, we swam with the horses and had lessons, and after dinner had another OAPF event -- Pony Farm's Next Top Model. Today your campers were busy with lessons, and packing, and working on the specialty they'll show you tomorrow.

We will be seeing you all really soon!


Co-Director, Pony Farm

PS Did you miss our amazing Session 5B campers taking the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge"?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pony Farm Session 5A - Eating Chocolate with Socks, and a Dog Worth 200 Points

Dear Camp Families,

If you've followed our daily schedule, you know that we played the Chocolate Game last night.  I often feel like a pit boss during this game.  It is a high energy, fast paced game, similar to what I imagine a casino environment is like.  But instead of dealers calling out, "Changing $100!" I have campers shouting for more chocolate bars!  Does this start to paint the picture for you?
The Chocolate Game moves so fast it's all a blur!

If you wanted to play the Chocolate Game at home, here's how you do it:

  • A platter (to put the chocolate bars on)
  • 2 dice (or 3 dice to make the game harder)
  • A fork and a knife (use a spoon instead of a fork if you want to make it more interesting)
  • A pair of sock, preferable clean ones (Dirty ones could put an interesting spin on things.  We always use clean ones.)
  • Hersey's chocolate bars (freeze them to make the game harder.)

Players take turns to roll the dice. The first player to roll doubles gets to put the socks on her hands, pick up the fork (or spoon) and the knife, and start cutting up the chocolate bar. She tries to eat as much as she can until the next camper gets doubles.  Then it is her turn to cut up and eat chocolate with socks on her hands. 

The game goes on until you cry for mercy, you run out of chocolate, or you have to roll the children away from the platters. (I envision a scene from  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.)  At Pony Farm, we usually just run out of chocolate.

Gunner: find him & your
team earns 200 points.
But where did he keep
his ticket?
Last night we also played Counselor Quest, a Pony Farm specialty!  It's hide and seek with some twists.

All the counselors, including honorary counselor, Gunner the Black Lab, hide on the farm. Inside the barns and other buildings, and where there are animals, are off limits for hiding. One counselor always stays in the lodge for safety (no hiding!).

Each counselor carries a ticket with her point value on it. When a team of campers finds a counselor, she hands over her ticket. The game is over when a car horn honks obnoxiously for an extend period of time and everyone comes back to the lodge.  The team with the most points wins. 

Counselor Quest is a fun way for campers to learn their way around the farm. It is also really popular with counselors. Even counselors who have the evening off come in just to play. 

Emma the Great with Thunder;
maybe Thunder knows where
she hides during Counselor Quest.
Emma the Great, also known as Emma Milford, one of our long-time counselors, has never been found.  Just saying!

Today - Friday - we had lessons in the morning, afternoon activities, and then tonight we are going camping, having a ship wreck dinner, and playing personal scavenger hunt.

Never a dull moment here at camp!

Co-Camp Director (and Gunner's "Mom")

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pony Farm Session 5A - What, Already?!

Dear Camp Families,

It has been a while since I have written.  I do apologize.  I can only make so many excuses for why I haven't written -- but here is my list!
  • Hanging out and getting to know your daughters! (Who are fabulous, by the way. Maybe you already knew that.)
    You know, just hanging out with Jordan
  • Helping out at our home horse show
  • Playing personal scavenger hunt
  • Playing the Chocolate Game
  • Holding community meetings with campers
  • Going swimming
  • Taking pictures of camp activities
  • Playing Counselor Quest (I always get found.  What's with that?)
  • Petting ponies, horses, dogs, goats, sheep, and the donkey
  • Talking to the chickens!

Oh and running a camp. I forgot to put that on my list.

In all seriousness, Session 5 has arrived. It's hard to believe it's come so quickly. Your daughters are a terrific group of girls!  Horse matching, the first order of business, went very well on Monday, with only 4 re-rides in the afternoon.

Heading back to the barn: the only drama is in that sky
 While re-rides happen, the rest of the campers play with small animals and take their swim test.  We have a jam-packed week coming up with a fashion show (the Pony Farm version, of course!), riding lessons, bag skits, Counselor Quest, the ice cream trough, swimming with the horses, carriage driving with Boo, and a whole lot more.

Guess what's the quickest path to a pony's heart?
 So, if you'll excuse me ...

Session 5A has an agenda!

Co-Director, Pony Farm

PS: Speaking of the horse show, check out some photos on Facebook:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pony Farm Session 4 Has Arrived!

Dear Camp Families,

AHHHHHH - Session 4 has arrived!  This is very exciting news for me, because session 4 is my favorite session.  I know I am not supposed to have favorites, but session 4 wins me over every time. 
Why? Well, mainly because by now, camp is operating like clockwork, and our already-great staff, counselors, and CITs are working together in tight-knit teams. It makes a camp director's heart very happy!
And if that weren't enough, session 4 also means it's time for our annual trip to Cheshire Fair! Not to mention swimming, riding (of course!), a trip to meet the Budweiser Clydesdales, the horseless horse show (OAPF), and on Saturday, a Touchstone Farm horse show -- with actual horses -- and so much more.

And this is just week 1!
I think I'm not the only one who loves session 4. On Sunday, I saw you all lining up early in your cars for drop-off. After we moved our truck and let you in, I saw campers running to greet one another!  
Waiting for camp to open for drop-off
Your girls are doing an amazing job of taking care of each other, the animals and the land.  There hasn't been a drop of homesickness, even the first night!  The campers were sitting and ready to go for our community meeting on Monday morning.  It was like I didn't even have to call it.

If you don't hear from me for a few days, it is because I am out playing at camp!
Time to play with Dunkin the donkey, Becky the mini-horse (no relation),
and the other small animals
 Session 4, I am so happy you are here!

Monday, July 14, 2014

OAPF - Battle of the Boy Bands

Dear Camp Families,

In my last post, I told you we are too busy having fun for me to write. Now I will try to make up a little by explaining another OAPF (Only at Pony Farm) activity.

You might have heard us mention Battle of the Boy Bands. While that's a weird phrase for an all girls riding camp, it is in fact a really fun game, which naturally we made up.

It goes like this ...

1.  We divide the camp into 6 teams based on campers' riding experience, so that each team has a variety of riding experience among teammates. 

2.  Each team comes up with a Boy Band name for their team.  This year's names are Green Day, Maroon 5, Plain White T's, Jackson 5,  NSYNC, and Backstreet Boys. (Sometimes "boy band" is a term we use loosely.)

3.  During their session, Boy Band teams can accrue points for about 10 different events.  These include Personal Scavenger Hunt, a Hunter Pace, Stable Management, Counselor Quest, Capture the Flag, Talent Show, Fashion Show, Gymkhana Games,and  Pony Farm's Next Top Model.

Session 3 Leaderboard for the Battle of the Boy Bands - NSYNC has the edge!

4. Each Boy Band team has a signature item that they wear during an eligible event in the competition. This might be a blue bandanna, a green shirt, a white shirt, a red ribbon tied in their hair, etc

5.  We host a final awards night - with a dance off!  Each Boy Band prepares a song (sung by their Boy Band) and dance for the award ceremony.  We award prizes!

Battle of the Boy Bands: a lot of fun, very silly, and - did I mention? - a lot of fun!



PS In case you're curious, Wikipedia defines "boy band" here. Strangely enough, the definition doesn't mention Pony Farm!