Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Derby Day!

What is a Hunter Derby?
A hunter derby is a new type of horse show division that has become very popular in the past couple of years.  It takes place in a large ring or in a grass fields with natural jumps more like you would find in a hunt field.  Like the regular hunter classes, the classes reward style, form over fences and quality of horse’s movement, but they also reward braveness or “brilliance” and a faster, more open stride.  They hold these classes at many shows, including big shows in Florida and all along the east coast.  They are super fun to watch as well as ride in.
The horse show is going to be taking place in our O.C, not in the rings as they have in past years.  The O.C (meaning Outside Course) is located in an open field.  Instead turning left to go down Putnam Road towards the lodge, stay straight on Webster Highway and the field is on the left.  You can always park at the lodge and walk down to the O.C.
This is our first time doing a Hunter Derby.  We are very excited for it!  The course is intended for first timers and beginners.  The course is located off the O.C, it is one of the last classes of the day and our estimated start time is around 2:30 pm.  Joe Lombard is the judge for the derby.  There are about 8 natural jumps with an optional water fence consisting of a liver pool.  Some of the jumps consist of a coop, roll top,  gate, hay bales, birch rail, and a brush box.  The jumps range in height from 2,  2.3, and 2.6.
We are very excited for this event and hope you are too!  We will be e-mailing out an estimated start time of your camper on Friday morning.  Be on the look for the e-mail!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What great weather we are having!

The weather has been between 75-80 degrees, and just gorgeous.  Honestly you couldn’t ask for better weather.   Yesterday afternoon, half of camp did re-rides.  We want to make sure that we have everyone on the right pony, especially with the show coming up.  The other half of camp was all set with their mounts, so they did the rigorous swim test.
 I laugh about the swim test, because for a few campers, they get nervous when they hear  they have to do the swim test.   Once they know what it consists of, they laugh.  For the swim test, you must jump in the deep end, swim to the shallow end and then back to the deep end. Then they tread water and sing Happy Birthday to our lifeguard.  Then the next room jumps in and does the same thing.  Are you laughing at our swim test now too?
Last night the campers played bag skits.  What are bag skits, you may be asking yourself?  Every room gets a bag and puts a number of items in it.  Then all the rooms switch bags, and they have to do skit with the items in the bag.  This is a great way for the rooms to bond and be creative.  Kris was with the kids last night.  When I came back from the staff meeting, she goes, after 20 years of doing this; I still don’t know what room one’s skit is about!  These skits are hysterical to see.
Tonight for dessert we are doing the ice-cream trough and capture the flag for our evening activity.  The ice-cream trough is a huge favorite!  We take gallons of ice-cream and put in a clean rain gutter that is set on a table.  Then we add all kinds of toppings.  To keep things even, the counselors throw spoons on to the back lawn and on the count of three, the campers race to get a spoon and then race to the trough to eat as much as they want.  This all takes place on the back lawn, and this description does not do this activity justice, but I hope you can create a picture in your head.  (Disclaimer, for those campers who don’t want to participate, we do give them ice-cream in a bowl like a civilized person.)
I feel like I have written a lot about everything but ponies.  These girls are at camp to ride.  Rest a sure they are riding, a lot.  They are busy getting ready for the show and we have a hunter derby towards the end of the show too!  I am very excited to see this even myself!  Stay tuned for on the derby!

Friday, June 24, 2011

We ate by Candle light!

Yesterday with the rain, we were able to ride in the morning, but it poured in the afternoon.  We had a change of plan for afternoon activity.  All horse women should know how to clean their own tack, take it apart and put it back together again.  So we did tack cleaning.  Plus the tack had taken a hit with the rain.  Leather and rain, not the best combination.

As we were getting ready for dinner last night, and campers were showering, or waiting to shower.  We lost power!  We quickly called a Community Meeting to discuss water usage and the plan for the evening, given there was no power.  (When you have well water, and there is no electricity the pumps won’t work.)  If your camper has never heard the phrase, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown put it down,” they know it now!  Luckily dinner was still on time; propane gas still works with no power!  We had dinner by candle light, it was very romantic.  The power came back on half way through dinner.

Last night we player Personal Scavenger Hunt!  The best game of all the games in all the land!  (Can you tell it is my favorite game?)  We divide the camp into 4 teams, counselors will ask questions, and one person from each team will race up and slap the table and tell us the answer.  The questions range from pop culture, to about horses, Pony Farm, singing, dancing, and more.  Sometimes there is preface to the question, like only the tallest person or the shortest person of the group can answer.  We like to get everyone involved!
The campers are doing their final riding lessons this morning!  After lunch, during rest hour, the girls will write their Candlelight and pack the second half of rest hour.  This afternoon we will practice our specialty in preparation for tomorrow to show all the parents.  I had a hard time trying to pick the winner of room clean up.  It is a three way tie going into today!   I have looked under beds, in closets, it is almost too close to call a winner.  The winner will get to go to Connolly’s Dairy Farm and pick out what ice cream they want.  They make their own ice cream on the farm! Their ice cream is like heaven on Earth!  

Tonight we will have Candlelight!  The campers will talk about the farm, their ponies, their roommates and anything else they want to share.  Everyone gets to share.

Tomorrow morning we ride!  Moms and dads will start arriving around 9:30/10:00 we will have two huge posters up of what rings everyone is in.  After the campers show their parents their riding skills, they will do their specialty and then a picnic lunch on the back lawn.  Camp will provide dessert and drinks!  Then we will say our sad good-byes!  I sure am going to miss this group! I can’t believe session one is almost over.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday, June 22nd

Hello Camp Families,
Yesterday’s swim test with our Lifeguard went well, and then the girls enjoyed playing in the pool or with the minis, goats, sheep, and bunnies for the rest of the afternoon.  Last night’s game of capture the flag brought on some playful competition!   
This morning, the girls are out in their morning lesson and excited about what this afternoon will bring!  This afternoon, the girls will choose what they would like to do.  The options for today area trail ride, riding bare back, catch riding, a trip to the water falls, or swimming and playing with the small animals.  Catch riding, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is when campers ride “their” pony and then during the ride (in a ring) they trade ponies.  It’s a fun way to ride several ponies, safely, in one afternoon. Tonight, the evening activity will be Fashion Show, a PF favorite!
Below is a letter that Boo and the rest of the staff feel is important for parents of equestrians to read.  Enjoy!

My daughter turned sixteen years old today;  which is a milestone for most people.  Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I took the time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the choices she would face in the future.
As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and the determined woman she would soon be.
I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no where, seeking surface identities because they had no inner self esteem.
The parents of these same girls have asked me why I “waste” the money on horses so my daughter can ride.  I’m told she will grow out of it, lose interest, “discover” boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current generation’s “slacker” label on my child.  I don’t think it will happen, I think she will love and have horses all her life.
Because my daughter grew up with horses, she has compassion.  She knows that we must take special care of the very young and the very old.  We must make sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still receive special care.
Because my daughter grew up with horses, she learned responsibility for others than herself.  She learned that regardless of the weather you still care for those you have stewardship of.  There are no “days off” just because you don’t feel like being a horse owner that day.  She learned that for every hour of fun you have there are days of hard slogging work that you must do first.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned not to be afraid of getting dirty and that appearances don’t matter to most of the breathing things in the world we live in.  Horses do not care about designer clothes, jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to impress others.  What a horse cares about are you abilities to work within his natural world, he doesn’t care if you’re wearing $80.00 jeans while you do it.
Because my daughter grew up with horses, she learned about sex and how it can both enrich and complicate lives.  She learned that it only takes one time to produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren’t produced is not to breed.  She learned how babies are planned, made, and born.  She learned how sleepless nights and trying to outsmart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see, as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she understands the value of money.  Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or farrier visits.  Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation.  She has learned to judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and to make sure her standards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge grows.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to learn on her own.  She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond body language and reactions.  She has had to learn to “read” her surroundings for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might only see a pretty meadow.  She has learned to judge people as she judges horses.  She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned sportsmanship to a high degree.  Everyone that competes is fairly a winner.  Trophies and ribbons may prove someone a winner, but they do  not prove someone is a horseman.  She has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regardless of who it hurts.  She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has self-esteem and an engaging personality.  She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she has to express herself to her horse with more than words.  She knows the satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1200 pound animal that will yield willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept handling of those stronger than she is.  She holds herself with poise and professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to plan ahead.  She knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the road.  She knows that you cannot care for and protect you investments without savings to fall back on.  She knows the value of land and buildings.  And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel or being stranded on the side of the road with a horse trailer on a hot day.
When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can honestly say that I haven’t “wasted” a penny on providing her with horses.  I only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Camp Day One!!

July 21st, 2011

          What a glorious day we have of enjoy with your most beautiful ladies.  They are just so sweet, dear, hard- working and sincere.  They sure gave their all yesterday to find just the ‘right’ pony or horse for their precious week with us here at Pony Farm.  You have done a super job of getting them ready to come to camp.  We did not have one “weepy whiney”….just a bunch of gung ho kids who love being outside and anything “Horsey”.  It was a pleasure to watch what we call the “Sorting Hat”. Just like at Hogwart’s of the famed Harry Potter Series, we mix and match horses and ponies until each rider has one that is ‘just right’….not too ‘hot’, not too ‘cold’ and not ‘too’ bumpy.  Our goal is to have this be the magical week of your daughters’ summer!
          The morning was sunny but cool, giving the perfecto weather for riding with no bugs.  The Senior staff went around to each ring and sorted out riding levels, horse matches, and teachers.  Much discussion was had with the staff in the rings, and the kids themselves.  By the end of the morning, about 85 % of the kids were happy and correctly mounted.  Many smiles were seen all over camp, with lots of good old horse and pony huggin’.  Names were assigned to each riding group….we have the Connemara’s, the Morgan’s, the Thoroughbreds, etc as our groups…six in all with six students and two staff.
          Following announcements at lunch, the kids were given reasons why she was placed in each group. For those who had not yet found the right horse or pony, they knew they would ride again that afternoon to find their treasure.  Lunch was served for all hungry campers, followed by rest hour to store up energy for the afternoon ride.
          By the end of the afternoon, I am happy to report that matches were made and groups formed with teachers assigned.  This was announced at afternoon snack and barn chores were introduced at that time as well. From now on for the week, each camper will have ‘her own’ horse or pony for whom she cares for both their feeding, stall and turn out needs, as well as tack and other equipment. For our newer riders, this is quite an accomplishment….Roots and Wings for sure.
          Showers were next on the agenda prior to dinner.  Counselors and campers sit randomly, making new friends galore.  Following dinner, some non-riding staff took over the reins so to speak and played a favorite game of bag skits.  This is a great group game where a skit is made up by each room using the articles put in the paper bags.  This is a definite team builder for each room of girls.
          I took all the teaching/riding staff down to my little Cottage and we did a good solid hour and a half of teaching instruction about how to do everything from do a safety check, to ring set up, to skill progression, to problem solving on your feet. Safety and good learning are at the base of all of my teaching lectures, so rest assured, we hope you see a huge improvement when you come pick up your children on Saturday.
          Speaking of pick up….for your planning purposes, it would be great if you arrived at 9:30 Saturday AM. We will have your daughters’ all packed with their equipment on their beds. We will direct you as to where she will be riding.  The first half of the parents’ demo will be an instructed lesson so you will know what she has been learning.  The second half will be a fun specialty demo which is something out of the ordinary that she can do here at Pony Farm.  Wait until you see what they pick to show you!  So fun.
          We then ask you to bring a picnic for your family. We provide refreshments and desserts to round out the meal. We have lunch all together on the front lawn and chat up a storm.  This is the perfect time to speak with your child’s counselors for the riding, barn teams or rooms.  All senior staff will also be available for input and compliments.  In short, it is a most pleasant way to spend the afternoon.  You can plan to leave about 1:30 to 2PM. If this does not work for your family due to scheduling with other children, just let us know. Our middle name is flexible.
          Finally, I want to mention one more special event which is coming up that we hope you might consider joining us for on SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING JULY 16TH.   Beginning at 2PM, we will be hosting a celebration THANK YOU PARTY in honor of Pony Farm’s 40th Anniversary and the start of the next 40 years with Touchstone Farm.  We will have riding, driving, vaulting, jumping, “Animal Ambassadors” and “Gardening For Good Demos”, as well as the Temple Town Band, America’s oldest town band!  We will also have a good old fashioned Ice Cream Social to help celebrate, with a very few speeches to honor a couple of people.  We hope you might venture back to the farm and help us celebrate.  It is free and our way of thanking all the people far and wide who have loved this farm for 40 years!
          Meanwhile back at the ranch, kids will be swimming, gardening, training, playing with the small animals and enjoying being outside in the sun. What a happy picture.  Thanks for sharing your daughters with us.  It is our delight and honor.
                                                          Most fondly,
                                                          Boo on behalf of the whole crew

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Hello Camp Families!
Yesterday we spent the day making sure we had the right camper, on the right pony or horse in the right riding group.    This took up our morning and our afternoon time.  Last night we played bag skits, a Pony Farm favorite.  At Vespers, the girls said the most beautiful things about one another, their ponies,  the farm, and their families. 
Today we ride!  The girls are getting tacked up as we speak for their riding lesson.  This afternoon we are doing swim tests, playing with the small animals, and playing games on the lawn of the Homestead.  The swim test consists of jumping in the deep end of the pool swimming to the shallow end and then back to the deep end.  Then the girls will sing Happy Birthday and tread water.  We do swim tests by rooms.  As you can tell it is a rigorous test and our lifeguard is standing by running the tests.  Tonight we play capture the flag!
Today the photographers are here to take action shots of your camper!  They will be here this morning and this afternoon taking pictures.  You will be able to view the pictures and purchase if you want to on closing day.
Just remember, no news is good news.  If you haven’t heard from your camper, she is too busy having fun with her friends and riding ponies or horses to write home.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Camp is here!

At long last the first day of camp is here!! It was an beautiful NH day, and seeing all the happy campers running up there driveway yesterday was a sight to behold!  Everyone settled into their new room, met room-mates or reunited with old friends, and went off to the barn to see the new ponies and meet what pony they had been assigned for the session. For many campers that was a joyous reunion with an old friend!!!

Stay tuned to our blog - Boo, Becky and Carrie will be posting updates throughout the week.