Michele Foland from Camper to Heels Down Instructor

Like the majority of horsewoman today, their passion for horses began at an elementary age. For Michele Foland it was at age of seven when her parents enrolled Michele in horseback riding lessons. Little did they know this road would lead to a committed career with horses.

It wasn’t long after she began riding, Michele was enrolled in the Heels Down program. From that summer forward, her experiences lead to not only improved equestrian skills but also to a strong group of friends that still exists today.   Michele states she sees them all being friends for life. Clearly this is a testament to the social aspect Heels Down provides our campers. This group of girls helped build the beginning foundation of the program and it was because of them the enrollment age increased each summer until they were 15.

For the first time in the Heels Down program’s history a camper will return to be an instructor. Michele Foland has so many wonderful qualities to offer to the program this summer. For the campers, the most important aspect is she knows first hand the impact each two-week experience can have and how life altering a sound instructor can have on an impressionable child. She has lived and experienced the truthful statement that “one thing you say or do can change someone’s life” for the better. Michele is a now a junior at Morrisville State College in upstate New York majoring in Equine Science & Management with a specialization in breaking and training.

It should be so much fun for our campers to experience training our young filly Lulah with Michele, and to share the same experience Michele had with Chestah when both were young. Michele’s knowledge of so many disciplines brings strength to our Heels Down program. This was and continues to be the goal of Heels Down in providing riders and their parents a variety of equestrian disciplines. Michele is a fine example of one of many successes from this program. Since graduating from Heels Down, Michele’s horse experience has flourished, creating a wide repertoire of skills from dressage, show jumping, driving draft horses to western pleasure and western reining.

She humbly acknowledges her numerous accomplishments but remembers most fondly her exposure to western reining and of being the reserve champion of the NRHA central New York circuit as one of the most rewarding. Michele knows it is hard work loving horses and while proudly smiling she admits that mucking 90 stalls in the zero degree weather of Morrisville is still rewarding. All those enrolled in Spring Lessons will enjoy getting to know Michele as she starts full time here at Pompositticut Farm, May 9th. We can’t wait!

 

Nicole Miller in Another Role for 2017

Nicole Miller never ceases to amaze us with her determination and long range plans.  She is always one of, if not THE first person to let us know of her job status for the next summer.  She seems to always be one step ahead of herself, charting out her next goal with determination and skill.  For this reason and so many others, Nicole will be the Health Care Coordinator for summer 2017.

As a 3rd year nursing student at the University of Maine, Orono, Nicole will be putting her recent schooling to work with the campers of Pompositticut.  They will be in competent and talented hands with Nicole at the helm as she has proven herself a focused young lady in her previous positions as Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor.  Don’t let her size fool you either;  Nicole is not afraid to speak up and stay-true to her decisions for which she has previously prepared herself.  She is a mature, driven person who will bring a sense of comfort and guidance to the camp’s Health Center.

Crane Beach- A Ride of Confidence

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You don’t need to be a competitive rider to still have fun and challenging adventures on a horse. The riders involved in Pompositticut Farm’s Fall Riding program found that out on November 11th.  Having a day off from school, 14 of our riders joined past and present instructors for an equestrian day at Crane Beach.  With 6 ponies in tow, two trucks and several cars, the caravan of eager riders and on-lookers arrived at this gorgeous beach in Ipswich, MA.

Although it was a windswept day, the fairly warm breeze and bright sunshine kept everyone in great spirits. Children, staff and parents assisted in setting up “camp” on the beach.  It was remarkable how cooperative, respectful and fun-loving everyone was!  Riders not only shared the ponies but supportively shared their time riding, along with snacks and laughs too.  In between rides they socialized and played on the beach while patiently awaiting their turn.  Despite the windblown sand there were no complaints and everyone was amazed the day had passed so quickly.

Included in this outing were several of our former and present riding instructors. Previous Riding Directors, Lauren Surowiec and Carolyn Halfpenny gladly joined this amiable group as well as Paris Wilkins who had travelled from the UK and stayed for this particular event.  Day Camp and licensed riding instructor Lisa D’Angelo, now a college student, had had previous riding adventures on Crane Beach and assisted with coaching the novice beach riders throughout the day.  Fall riding instructors Nikki Weynberg and Allison Crouse joined their students in trotting down the flattened beach, with the students displaying their improved riding skills.  What a proud moment for these talented instructors to see first-hand how much the children had learned and could apply their skills on the beach.

From everyone’s reaction, the outing was a huge success. Not only did it allow the children to enjoy a day at the beach, but riding there helped build their confidence. They rode next to and with their instructors, to whom they look up to and respect.  They challenged themselves to be on an equal level as the instructor by proudly and successfully riding in a group.   For all of these young equestrians, this was the first riding outing they had ever done, let alone on a beach!  What a positive impact on their overall growth and maturity!

See for yourself some of the great times we had at:

https://youtu.be/BmHvCcHFxe0

https://pompositticutfarm.smugmug.com/ 

Stay up to the minute with news and postings about camp at: https://www.facebook.com/pompositticutfarmdaycamp/

“Regular Time” Begins November 6th!

A reminder to everyone, we will need to change our clocks back and gain an extra hour, this coming Sunday morning, (technically at 2am), November 6th!  Although most people say it is the “end of daylight savings time”, I choose to look at it as the beginning of “Regular Time”!

As we head into the cooler months of autumn and the winter ahead, this additional morning hour allows us to awaken to bright, morning sunshine sooner than before.  If you are a morning person like me, seeing the sun at 6:00am is the impetus to start my day.  It allows me to peak through the blinds and catch a glimpse of a tentative doe and her yearlings grazing on the acorns or the wild turkeys shuffling through my compost pile for breakfast!  They don’t realize the clocks have changed and now have an audience!  With the backyard facing east I am eager each morning to see if today’s sunrise is just as colorful and pleasing as yesterdays.  It is a small, momentary and one-of-a-kind blessing that seems to be created just for me!  I’ve given up capturing the moment with a camera, in lieu of just being satiated by watching this amazing display of color with perhaps a warm cup of coffee.

If you really think about it, changing the clock makes very little difference during the day.  It is still sunlit while we are most alert and focused, be it at work, school or, play!  It is not until around 5:00pm when the brightness fades and we are lured inside for the warmth of our homes.  Certainly, the camp ponies and horses seem undisturbed and unaffected by this change in daylight hours;  for them it’s always regular time!

Earlier evenings bring families together sooner and offer time to reacquaint each other with “inside” interests.  It’s an opportunity to reminisce perhaps about summer camp and what activities they will be participating in for the coming summer!  Perhaps it is this “Regular Time” that really is healing:  physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually . . . . by allowing us to slow down – regroup – and relax after hectic spring, summer and fall activities. “Regular Time” allows you to exhale really slowly.  After all, there’s always Daylight Savings time to look forward to on March 12, 2017, which means the opening of camp won’t be far behind!

Zoe Rodgers Runs the Race of Her Life

Just when you think you know someone really well, they surprise you!  We know each other in a work relationship but oftentimes what we do outside of work is something completely different and unexpected.  For most of our international staff, we have only 8 weeks to interact with them and even then it is while we are all busy focusing on the campers here at Pompositticut.  Although they live with the director, Jackie, even she has been surprised by the international staff’s modesty regarding their accomplishments.

One of the best examples of this is during Summer 2016 our Heels Down instructor Zoe Rodgers, surprised everyone by training for the New York City Marathon.  Where she found the energy after working a full day on her feet outside in hot temperatures, is still a mystery.  One doesn’t just enter a 26.2 mile race unless you are prepared to train and stay physically fit for this ultimate test held on Sunday, November 6th.   The 46th running of the NY City Marathon will traverse through the 5 boroughs of New York City, beginning in Staten Island, travelling through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and finishing in Manhattan.  She will be amongst 50,000 other dedicated runners who, many like Zoe, are running for a specific cause.  The average time for the runners is a grueling 4.5 hours!

In her own words Zoe explains what motivated her,   “I was running most days before camp knowing the fight Jackie made when she had cancer was tougher than what I was doing! Even the campers would push me to run further every day, meaning everyone at Pompositticut was supporting me through a tough summer. I know how much Jackie would like to be there on the day, but she will be achieving her own goals at the (driving) championships. The inspiration, love and strength I gained from my 2nd Pompositticut summer will carry me through this Marathon and I would be most grateful to everyone who donates big or small to help the bigger challenge that is Cancer.”

Zoe qualified to run with and raise money for “Action Cancer”, a leading cancer charity that began in Northern Ireland. Their mission is to save lives and support local people through cancer awareness, prevention, detection and support.  Action Cancer is the only charity in the UK to offer breast screening clinics to women.  To date, Zoe has personally been sponsored to raise over $6000 for this charity and is hoping to add even more during the next few weeks before the race. If you would like to help her accomplish this goal please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/NYCRodgers

We all wish her great success!

Quote- Jackie Kane

“People inspire us and give us strength when and where we need it. Zoe was a quiet and patient provider of strength. This young lady amazes me every time I spend more time with her. I am grateful for the effort she puts forth in my honor, as well as all patients and survivors. I would love to be there at the finish line to give her the biggest hug ever but when we face and complete our personal goals, we survive!

It is no accident Pompositticut’s new dreamcatcher logo states, “Where Dreams and Goals Happen!”

Good luck Zoe!!”

Fall Fun Day 2016

Autumn certainly did cooperate for our Fall Fun Day in more ways than one. Beginning as a cool but pleasant fall morning, the annual riding event held here at Pompositticut Farm had parents and riders cheerfully assembling at the various riding rings to watch our fall riding participants engage in a small equestrian show.

Now at approximately the mid-way point in our 10-week lesson program, these riders were able to decide if they wanted to share their skills with family members by competing in both dressage and jumping categories. Beginners, intermediates and more advanced riders alike completed their specific mounted tests upon a chosen pony.

What makes this Fall Fun Day special though is not so much the competition, but the camaraderie that develops during this event. To make it all work efficiently, riders must cooperate with each other in preparing their pony as well as in sharing their mounts.  It is during this time that friendships are strengthened and the real focus becomes the social aspect of the day.  One parent even commented that she had not been able to speak with her daughter very much during the entire day because her daughter was so happily engaged with friends!

It was the friends of Pompositticut as well who set aside their personal time to be our judges for this event. Our sincere appreciation goes out to Lauren Surowiec and Christina Lombardi who were our jumping judges; Bob and Diane Koopman, our dressage judges and Cindie Bryan who was our Walk-Trot judge. All of these people, along with our barn support team, made this event a successful day:  Nikki W., Allison C., Shelbee M., Lindsey G., Caitlin M., Shannon M., and Nancy G.  A very special thank you to Dawn from Linguine’s for always providing us with spectacular lunches!  And we cannot forget all of you parents who helped us not only yesterday but throughout the year in so many different capacities but mostly for sharing your children with us!  Thank you!

Be sure to check out or have as a keepsake the beautiful photos from this Fall Fun Day at:

http://pompositticutfarm.smugmug.com/2016-Fall-Fun-Day-Photos

What Happens When Summer Officially Ends?

When Summer officially ends, camps take on a new life and role! For Pompositticut Farm Day Camp, we shift gears slightly and become a “farm” again where the focus is on the horses and ponies who have devoted their summer to the campers.  Like people, they too must keep in shape, eat properly and exercise.  It’s a win-win situation for them and the children who continue with horseback riding lessons into these autumn months.  In fact, we begin receiving requests for Fall Riding Lessons during the camp season.  Families are already anticipating those beautiful autumn days when it is ideal to be involved in outside activities.  Gone is the summer humidity, replaced with breathable air, bluer skies and mild evenings.

Afternoons find the farm filled with children who have registered for Fall Riding Lessons. These lessons begin the week of Labor Day and continue right up until Thanksgiving.  There are no limitations in age or skill levels for taking lessons, just a desire to learn.  Our licensed and skilled instructors are capable of teaching the first-time rider right through to those who are confident in their jumping abilities.  Many of our participants are past and present campers who are eager to continue riding those horses/ponies they have been riding during camp.

Apparently, parents are finding they too can enjoy what their children have been experiencing on horseback by taking part in riding lessons themselves. One busy, working mother said she had taken lessons many years ago and this was something special she was “doing just for herself”.  She had specifically adjusted her work schedule to take part in these lessons. Along with a friend, these two ladies are exercising, relearning a past skill, sharing time together and setting goals for themselves!

As summer officially ends, so many opportunities abound! The riders are not only learning how to ride but they are learning responsibility, commitment and caring for a living being.  They are building upon personal confidence, independence and maturity.  They are strengthening friendships, meeting new people and conversing with adults.  Summer may have officially “ended”, but for many it’s a new beginning!

The Essence of Camp In Photographs

Each summer provides us with opportunities to capture the real essence of camp via photographs. Having been in operation for 36 summers, we often peek back at some of our earlier photos to see what the camp and our campers looked like.  Many of these campers are now treasured staff members and it is fun to see how much they have grown and matured.  We are also now beginning to see the next generation of campers or children of our previous campers!

I was recently asked if I could find a photo of a staff member when she was a young camper. When I began looking back through the hundreds of digital photos I have on file by years, it was then I realized it has only been 10 years since we have relied so heavily on digital rather than film cameras.  That means most of our campers do not even know what 35mm“film” cameras were!

With film you seemed to be more selective in what you photographed because you only had 36 chances to get it right, unless you had another roll of film handy. Today you can shoot endlessly, and plan to keep only a few perfect shots.  Even then, there are photo editing capabilities right on your camera or phone that can make pretty much any picture worth saving.

With this advent in electronics we have made our photographs of your children readily available to view and purchase. Through our online service called Smugmug you can sort through your child’s session and choose that perfect photo that captured his/her summer experience.  Be it the cross-country jump trail or a cannonball off the diving board, we have tried to capture the essence of camp so you can see for yourself how much enjoyment the children experience here at Pompositticut.

See all the excitement at: https://pompositticutfarm.smugmug.com/

Any ideas who these two cuties grew up to be????

Hint:  Project Soar & Swimming!

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Summer Campers Continue with Autumn Excitement at PFDC!

We are officially into the fall season as of September 22. The date alone, coupled with the sudden change in temperatures both during the day and night, certainly reminds us of this.  I for one really love the fall and all it brings with it.  Living in New England you cannot help be rewarded with all that encompasses an autumn day:  apple picking, corn husk decorations, pumpkin everything, harvest fairs, colorful leaves. . . and even horseback riding.

Our camp equestrians were eager to start right up with their fall riding lessons soon after camp concluded. Parents were sending emails during camp so they would not miss enrolling their child in our sought after lessons. As a result September began with one of our largest group of equestrians ever!  So many were excited to get back in the saddle and continue with all the progress they had made during the summer and have committed themselves to riding right up until Thanksgiving.  Indeed, with the exception of just a few, the majority of these excited riders were part of our camp programs including the Day Camp as well as our specialty programs, Short Stirrup and Heels Down.  They also had been part of our Spring Riding Lesson Program so these participants have truly committed themselves to the sport and all it has to offer.  Some are as young as 5 years old and already have an interest in pursuing this technically challenging sport.

What a testament to our instructors who worked so diligently throughout the hot summer days to instill in these young people the love of everything equestrian. Both Allison and Nikki who headed up Short Stirrup this summer, are teaching these fall lessons along with a couple more recruits who assist in making sure everything runs smoothly and on schedule.  They should both be complimented on their own accomplishments of obtaining their MA riding instructors’ licenses!  Allison, who obtained hers a couple years ago and now Nikki who more recently passed her technical written exam with just one error.  This, along with Nikki’s degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare and Allison’s master’s degree which she utilizes as an elementary school teacher, make for a talented duo of instructors.

Did we comment on how we also have a few adults/parents who are back in the saddle? We won’t mention any names, but these brave riders have put their all into relearning past skills.  Although a couple have admitted to being sore after their first couple lessons, each are always smiling and seem to enjoy using this special time just for themselves.  It will be interesting to see if they all will be willing to participate in the Fall Fun Day on October 16th where they can display their skills along with our other younger riding enrollees here at Pompositticut Farm. Who said fun is wasted on the young?!