Our History and Farm Tour
Pony Farm began in 1971 when Boo joined forces with her two best friends from horse shows and the ranch where she worked to begin a summer camp. With support and lots of advice from Boo’s parents, Pony Farm was born. The name comes from Boo’s favorite book as a little girl, Pony Farm, by author Paul Brown, the inaugural Pony Farm adventure began with eight little girls for one month (and we are happy to say that we are still in touch with all of them!).
Boo and the Reverend Gene Robinson buy the main part of the farm from Boo’s parents and begin to operate the farm year round. Peg Viglione came with them from Ridgewood, NJ. She helped make this all happen and is still with the farm helping advise and promote all these years later! The summer camp kept the name Pony Farm while the rest of the farm became known as Sign of the Dove Farm and Retreat Center. Gene facilitated many church retreats while Boo cooked and led hay or sleigh rides. Boo also provided a small lesson program for children. Camp and the retreat group continued in the family farm house. People seemed to love the ambiance of the pre-Revolutionary Stage Coach Stop between Boston and Montreal, often returning again and again.
With retreat groups, lesson programs and summer camp thriving, we felt the need to build a lodge on the farm to accommodate the growth. Plans were made to build a big log cabin which could sleep up to forty people and feed up to sixty-five. First, we set off to raise the money to “raise the roof”, with plans in hand and addresses in mind. To our delight and amazement, the money came pouring in. We reached our goal with a final boost from good friend and camp family from Boston, and it was time to build!.
Gene and a work party from our youth group hand peeled logs for the cabin for days on end in the summer of 1977. We also had a “Rock Festival” with our local church to help gather mighty piles of rocks from a purported Indian Burial Ground on the farm to make the stone fireplace-we can’t help but think this is why the lodge gives everyone that “special” feeling upon arrival. The big chandeliers were built by two welders and Boo’s mom. The doors were hand made by a local carpenter, who had grown up on the farm (his mother was a cook for the orphans, widows and prisoners who lived on the farm when it was part of the County Farm!).
The building was completed by that Fall of 1977! The building and farm itself were dedicated to do good work and serve the world with lots of thanks, good cheer and celebration. Camp and lesson programs were soon expanded, thanks to the new capacity, and we also began to host horse shows and added a Pony Farm Winter Camp. The lesson programs grew and had to be downsized several times to ensure quality and personal attention.
Our family grew as well, with the addition of Jamee and then Ella! Camp was soon accredited by the American Camping Association and Boo also became nationally certified as a Camp Director. She then became President of the NH Camp Directors and sat on the NE/ACA Board.
We began buying, selling and breeding Welsh and Welsh-cross ponies. Showing became more and more exciting as we ventured further afield. Several camp kids went on to be members of the US Olympic Three Day Event Team, Junior Show Jumping Team, representing the US in the Pan-America Games and to win at the national level. A driving program was introduced and we did some Eventing and Hunter Paces as well. Boo joined the American Riding Instructor Certification Program (ARICP, now ARIA) and attended their first ever seminar, with the likes of George Morris, Denny Emerson, Michael Page and Sally Swift. She joined the certification panel and was a guest speaker for ARICP.
Boo begins a Master’s program in Education and Organization Management at Antioch New England. Horse Power Pilot Programs were conducted.
Horse Power receives nonprofit status from the IRS, and more importantly, Alec McDaniel is born!
Pony Farm’s first foals are ready to be ridden and we have established relationships with breeding farms like Farnley, Little Bit and Woodland Farm. The pony training and sales program is in full swing! Along with the foals came our last son, Ian.
Pony Farm ponies were winning on the regional and national level. We began buying more ponies instead of breeding to keep up with the demand. Each camper had a well trained horse or pony and “green” pony to train. The girls would show both ponies throughout the summer, helping the “green” pony learn to compete. We took 53 riders, 49 ponies and won well over 250 ribbons at the New England Pony Owners and Breeders Association Show!
Boo attends her first Certified Horsemanship Association clinic and receives level 4 Instructor Certification and also presents at the American Camping Association NE Conference and the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) National Conference. The outside barn of 24 stalls is built, allowing for more horses and expanded programs.
Offices in barn are renovated and heated. Bunkhouse gets new porch and upgrades.
The first Mother-Daughter Week is a rousing success, and other specialty weekends are planned. Boo and the farm staff attend a clinic where Sally Swift herself taught Centered Riding techniques, which were soon incorporated into teaching at Pony Farm. Boo attends Driving Instructor Certification workshop and becomes NARHA certified to teach driving.
Boo becomes on of only a handful of NARHA Master Instructors in the country.
New indoor arena is built and dedicated in the Spring with a community-wide celebration including speeches, toasts and riding, driving and vaulting demonstrations.
Boo becomes a CHA Master Instructor and the farm becomes CHA accredited, scoring 100%. Horse Power Instructor Training School begins.
Pony Farm summer camp expands to 48 girls, with the addition of the three outside courses. Pony Farm receives a score of 99.6% on its re-accreditation! Pony Farm hosts the G’Wani Pony Boy 3 Day Clinic.
The first Father-Daughter weekend is held, a great success to be repeated again and again! Monadnock Horse Show Series begins with Friendship Field and Furnace Brook. Finals and banquet held at Pony Farm. Driving Program begins. National CHA Clinic, with Julie Goodnight, takes place at the farm.
Pony Farm’s 35th Reunion is held during Summer Camp. At least 75 people from all the years of camp attended a two day celebration. Even second generation staff and campers were in attendance! Pony Farm hosts CHA Instructor Certification for camp staff. Pony Farm joined the American Driving Society and was the site for their Fall Festival of Pleasure Driving. What a pleasure to see singles, tandem, a unicorn hitch and a four in hand! Stabling was in the indoor and a great time was had by all.
Strategic Planning meeting held in February. 32 people gathered to plan the course of Pony Farm for the next 5 years, with presentations from the founder, farm lawyer, banker and accountant and a seasoned consultant. Pony Farm Advisory Council was created to advise the future development of the farm and succession planning beyond the Founder. The overall goal is to preserve the legacy of Pony Farm well into the future. Many people joined to provide an overall facelift for the farm. Best of all, a new Farm Animal program, dedicated to Boo’s parents Bella and Gene Martin, was initiated. Chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits, a donkey, two goats and four miniature horses (including a baby mini!) were added to the farm’s roster of animals.