Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Upcoming Events on the Farm!!!!!!

Dearest All,
           I hope you are flourishing and that fall finds you in good spirits.  As the leaves turn colors and the cool wind blows in, I wanted to let you know of upcoming events.  There are things for moms, dads, campers, students, riders, drivers, and more!
            Pony Farm Summer Camp has started it's Early Bird Special.  We love seeing the Early Bird Specials roll in and remember each happy face as we sign up Pony Farmers for 2013. I only wish it all started next week.              
            Touchstone Farm is in high gear.  We have had something great to do every weekend all fall. I love the hustle and bustle of people coming to the farm whether it is to take lessons, come for a family reunion or birthday, or to do a clinic. What fun to see people, friends new and old, enjoy the farm.
            We wanted to let you know of two special upcoming events!  First is that next weekend we have a Horse Sales Showcase on Saturday October 20th.  We will have many horses and ponies here for sale or lease. Potential buyers can watch all the horses be ridden by either their owners or our trainers.  If a horse stands out as a possible good match, interested buyers can then try out the horse and see if it might be just what they are looking for in a new mount.  The idea behind this group sales is that families can look at many horses at one time and in one location instead of having to travel miles and miles to see one horse at a time.  We are excited about this format and have received enthusiastic response from the horse community as it is a ‘win win’ for everyone involved. It is our hope that some of our camp families will attend this Sales Day.  Not only would it be fun to see you, but it is a great way for you to find that special new four footed member of the family!
            Another exciting special event is our Fall Festival of Driving  October 26, 27 and 28th. So many of the campers signed up for carriage driving this summer that it is my hope you all might come and drive with us!  We are offering a whole special division for junior drivers.  We would adore to have some of our campers return to drive their camp pony.  It is a simple dressage test and fun cones course. Let me know if you want to come and we will figure out which pony you drove the most last summer.  Parents are welcome to come too!!! Let’s make this fun and festive together.
            If you can’t join us, remember that we will be at Equine Affaire during the whole of the event from November 8th to the 11th. This is a spectacular horse gathering of every breed, size, discipline and training method. It is not to be missed and we hope you will surely stop by our booth and check out our raffles.  You might even be in our brand new slideshow!  Come see for yourself.
            We are also eagerly awaiting the Mother Daughter Weekends in early December. We love our special time with our campers and moms…So, send in your application and mark your calendars to join us.  You can do the Early Bird special and make Pony Farm a big part of your coming year.  We will be ready to greet you with open arms.  Until then, stay well and keep in touch.
                                                                                                            Warmly, Boo and the Crew!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Secrets of Our Success

Or … “How to Celebrate the End of a Week of Rain in 6 Easy Steps.”

1. Choose your partiers carefully.

Here's my winning team:
Velvet catching some Zzzzz's

2. Choose the perfect route.

This one is tough. All the roads around the farm are rich with color just now. It’s hard to find fault with any of them.
What's not to like?

3. Go!

Roxy leads the way.

4. Document your trip.

Here’s Lisa riding Velvet, who is now wide awake.

5. Feed your friends.

Never forget the noms!


6. Repeat as often as possible.

Foolish grin optional

See you around the farm.

Kathy McDonald
Rider and Volunteer at Touchstone Farm

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Barn Chores: Not for Sissies

Campers with strong backs
A thousand pound horse eats and drinks a lot, and generates a lot of, um, waste. A stable full of 1000 pound horses generates a daily need for barn staff.

You might think barn chores are the ultimate in unskilled labor. A strong back for shoveling manure is the only qualification needed for the job, right?

Wrong. If you want the humans and horses to be safe, if you want the horses to stay healthy, if you want to avoid chaos and waste in your barn, you need barn staff who know what they’re doing.

A true Pony Farm camper SMILES
while dumping manure!
Jordan Reynolds handles the chores during the week. Jordan can sweep out a row of stalls in the time it takes me to pick out two of Roxy’s feet. She is also kind and helpful to the Pony Farm campers who do barn chores as part of their camp experience.

The Weight of Water

To be sure, the job does require considerable strength. Everything in a barn is heavy:
  • A typical water bucket holds 5 gallons. That's 41.5 pounds of water per bucket.
  • Hay bales weigh about 40 pounds each.
  • A wheelbarrow full of manure might as well be concrete.
  • Stall doors are very heavy, particularly when you are opening or closing them with one hand while the other holds an excited horse.

Air Traffic Control of Flying Hooves

This is Dawn. She
always smiles like that.
I've helped out with barn chores a few times on weekends, when Dawn Mills is in charge. From what I've seen, turnout is the barn chore that requires heavy-duty smarts, common sense, and even bravery.

Food and time outside their stalls are very important to the horses (Roxy!), and they can be nervy when coming in or out. A horse may try to shove past as you open a stall door or paddock fence. You could get stepped on or jammed against a wall if you’re not prepared for it.

The bolder horses turned out in the OC like to come flying in together at a gallop. Dawn’s advice for getting them to slow down and behave: “Wave your arms and try to look big.” I’m not sure I could pull that off, but the horses don’t mess with Dawn.

Some horses have strong opinions about other horses and it’s best that they don’t encounter each other in transit. The extra horses that arrive for summer camp can be quite jumpy at first.

I see Dawn handle all of this like an air-traffic controller at LaGuardia. She knows the stall and paddock of every horse and who their turnout partners are. She knows the safe, efficient sequence to bring horses in and out. She knows who shouldn’t eat grass along the way, who needs a fly mask, and who won’t put up with fly spray.

(Dawn also knows who’s naughty and nice. She lets me have the nice horses when I help with turnout.)

Love Optional but Highly Desirable

So far we have these required job skills: physical strength, kindness, critical thinking, a knowledge of horse behavior, sound judgment, steady nerves, and the ability to make yourself look big. Jordan and Dawn know the horses as well as anyone on the farm, and they love them, too. I don’t know if love is necessary for the job, but I know it makes life better for the horses.

See you around the farm.

Kathy McDonald
Rider and Volunteer at Touchstone Farm