Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Message from Boo

Dear Pony Farm, Horse Power, Riding/Driving Lessons …. Touchstone Family, All,

Winter & Terri decorate
our Christmas tree
in the Lodge.
It is with true joy and happiness in my heart that I write this holiday greeting to you. I cannot remember when I have been as excited about celebrating the holidays or welcoming in a New Year. I sincerely wish that you, too, are enjoying this special time of year. May you be filled with health, surrounded by friends and family who love you!

What a thrilling year we have had at Touchstone Farm. We have accomplished what we set out to do…combine all the best of the new with the best of the old. The combining of the three businesses into one stronger, better ‘not for profit’ organization has proven so right and good. With a fabulous board, committed staff, terrific horses, improved facilities, and a great mission and vision, we are on our way!!! The future is bright, indeed.

All our rings, beautifully rebuilt this year,
are a joy to ride in for lessons and shows.
So many of you have helped with this re-invention of ourselves. With time, talent, treasure, love, support and input, together we are stronger than ever! How can I ever thank you!

We so hope you will plan to come visit so we can enjoy the farm together. Come for a sleigh ride, a walk, a cup of tea, a rocking chair by the fire. The welcome mat is always out.

We have so many fun and exciting events planned for 2013. I can’t wait for it to begin!

Gruffy our gentle Clydesdale was a
"big" addition to Horse Power in 2012.
In the meantime, I am delighted to have all four of my kids and two grandchildren gathering for Christmas. My parents always used to say that their best present was when we came home. I know completely how they feel. No gift is better than being together. We will surely miss my Dad but I know he is smiling down from Above and loving us. Mom will be able to come in her wheelchair to enjoy yummy food, holiday decorations which she loves, and being together.

I feel blessed beyond measure with all that I have, not the least of which is my renewed great health. What a difference to be able to breathe, day after day! A true Modern Day Miracle happened to me.

Pony Farm 2012
was one of the
best camp summers yet!
As the sleighs are ready for snow, the ponies get fuzzy, the Yule Log is burning brightly and snow predicted, I send out my most heart-felt hugs to you and yours. I can’t wait to welcome you and sit a spell to chat. As the song says, “You light up my life.” Indeed, I am most grateful for your friendship and our shared memories. Let’s make some new ones in 2013!!!

With love and a big smile,
Come drive with us!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Notes from a Pony Farm Mom, Part 2

Leah and Victoria Lesser
Guest blogger and Mom of a first-time Pony Farm camper, Leah Lesser wrote earlier about what she learned from her daughter Victoria's first time at camp. This time, she's got some tips for other Pony Farm parents.

Hi Pony Farm family! I’m back to share three things that Pony Farm parents may expect when their daughter returns home from camp:

Dirt: It's a good thing!
  1. Dirt. Lots of it. Everywhere. I just unloaded the washing machine and laughed out loud when I saw grass blades and wood chips at the bottom of the drum. Yep. Welcome to Pony Farm laundry! Hot water works wonders.
  2. Stories. Lots of them. If your child isn’t very forthcoming with Pony Farm stories, here are a few questions that may help. Give her some time, and she’ll share as the days go by:
    • What was it like when everyone went to their bunk to go to sleep? This is how we learned that the girls in her bunk all said goodnight to each other. Ah. My heart was warmed.
    • What was your favorite meal? Snack? Aha. Our girl learned to like granola bars. Awesome. A new snack for the upcoming school year!
    • What made you laugh? How about that Pony Farm Model night, sounds like fun!
    • When did you use the bug spray? This is how we learned all about the counselor quest game at night, and the delights of the ice cream trough.
    • Dress code for barn chores: casual.
    • What did you do first when you woke up in the morning? This is how we discovered that morning barn chores are done in pajamas!
  1. If she wakes up early, stumbles to look for a lead line and heads outside to the non-existent pasture, guide her gently back to bed and know that she had an amazing Pony Farm experience!

How soon can you come back?
Thank you, Leah, for your eloquence and advice. We hope to see you and Victoria in 2013!

PS: The Open House for Pony Farm Summer Camp 2013 is coming up fast! Join us on January 6, 2013 at Touchstone Farm. Details are on our website.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Notes from a Pony Farm Mom, Part 1

Guest blogger and Mom of first-time Pony Farm camper, Leah Lesser writes about what SHE learned from her daughter Victoria's first time at camp.

Leah & Victoria Lesser
Our Pony Farm girl is tucked in, sound asleep in her bed at home, her first night back from Pony Farm. She grew taller and her confidence grew twice as much as her inches gained. She talked non-stop during the sixty mile drive home about her week at Pony Farm. As she shared stories of all kinds, I couldn’t help but make a mental list of the many things she learned. And what I learned too during her very first time away from home.

Here are five things I learned from the Pony Farm experience:

1. Sending your child away for the first time is an amazing growing experience: for your child, and everyone else in the family. For younger siblings left behind, it can be a dream come true to have their parents’ undivided attention while their big sister is away at camp. They can also struggle with missing their side-kick or partner in crime. Expect a bit of an emotional roller coaster with these younger sibs while their sister is at camp, and for days after she returns. While tough to watch and parent through, Pony Farm envy happens for these little ones!

Some ponies are
meant to be shared.
2. Horses are like people—they aren’t perfect. Our daughter is lucky to have a predictable, responsive, eager pony to ride during her weekly lessons and for the occasional horse show. They’ve ridden together for nearly a year. This pony isn’t perfect, but together they make a beautiful pair. This type of bond is extremely difficult to achieve during a one or even a two-week camp experience, even with the loving ponies and staff at Pony Farm.

It’s OK if your daughter doesn’t have an ideal riding experience at camp. The silver lining here is that she gets to experiment with riding a different horse (or horses) and that alone will help increase her confidence as a rider. After my daughter’s horse hurt his leg, other kids let her ride their ponies. Sharing ponies among new camp friends is a joyous thing indeed.

Twin bedroom in the Lodge
3. Small bunk rooms bring girls together. As we were helping our daughter unpack on the first day, I tried not to show my surprise at just how small her room was. Truthfully, I found it very hard to believe that four girls could co-exist for a week in a room that size. But once the duffles and gear were put away, the parents were on their way home, and the girls began the process of settling in, something magical happened. The girls began to forge a friendship that would last the entire week, and likely for years to come. I think some of this is due to the size of the rooms. In a small space, when you all get along, life is much easier and way more fun.

Catching the
"horse bug"
4. The horse bug is hard to shake! A few times during my daughter’s week away I wondered if she would get tired of riding horses and come home to declare that her horse days were over. Fear not. Shortly after we arrived to pick her up she asked when her next riding lesson was. The camp experience not only helped her grow as a person, but as a rider. She can’t wait to get back in the saddle at her lesson barn and use some of the techniques she learned at camp.

Barn chores - BEFORE
5. Responsibility is a beautiful thing. Having the enormous responsibility of catching, feeding, grooming, tacking, riding and loving your horse each day, along with mucking their stall, daily capers, keeping your bunk neat (double extra neat for the ACA visit that happened the week she was at camp!), remembering to brush your teeth, wear your retainer, write a letter home, and shower on occasion – all without mom or dad around to give those friendly reminders – is huge! A lifelong lesson in responsibility enforced amidst the beauty of Pony Farm. Gotta love that.

Phew. We did it. We sent our big girl away for a week without us. She returned the same amazing, joyful, funny, sweet girl that we’ve always known, but with extra doses of happiness, confidence, and pony passion. Thank you Pony Farm staff for welcoming our daughter into this unique and amazing camp family and guiding her through a week of incredible experiences that will stay with her forever!

Thank YOU Leah for entrusting your daughter to us and for writing so beautifully about her camp experience and yours. The Pony Farm camp staff and staff of Touchstone Farm are honored to have girls like your daughter join us every summer. We hope to see you in 2013!

PS: Check back later this week for another from Leah. And if you think your daughter might have the "horse bug" too, bring her to the Open House for Pony Farm on January 6, 2013 at Touchstone Farm. Details are on our website.