Pony Conservancy to join Monadnock Agriculture Center

  • Horses at the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy center in Jaffrey in 2019. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/12/2021 11:18:33 AM

After several months of struggling and uncertainty, the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy of Jaffrey has a new home.

Emily Aho, executive director of the Conservancy, has been looking for a new home for the nonprofit and nine of its critically endangered ponies since October. The Conservancy thought they had been handed a major windfall this autumn, when an anonymous donor offered the nonprofit a farm, complete with house, barns, riding rink and pastures in Maine. The Conservancy had sold its Jaffrey property, which was also the Aho’s residence, and was in the process of moving when the donor rescinded the gift due to unforeseen circumstances, leaving its founders, Emily and George Aho, scrambling for a new solution.

That solution turned out to be the Monadnock Agriculture Center in Marlborough, NH – only 13 miles away from their current location in Jaffrey.

“It was the complete answer to our problem,” Aho said Friday.

The Monadnock Agriculture Center is a working collaborative farm, and Aho said one of the major benefits to the partnership is that the ponies will be used as working farm animals – doing many of the tasks the breed was originally developed to do.

“My dream has always been to promote the traditional use of this pony. Hardly anyone is doing that. They log, they drive, they sleigh, they till, they harrow the gardens – this is what they were originally meant for. They’re draft ponies,” Aho said. “They’re small, but mighty.”

Aho said the solution is a silver lining in an otherwise stressful situation.

“Had what happened in the summer not happened, this wouldn’t have become an opportunity for us,” Aho said. “When you hit the bottom, the only way to go is up, and we’re up.”

Aho said the farm has some amenities such as an overnight rental, which may allow the Conservancy to hold events like overnight family weekends – something their current property doesn’t allow.

Mainly at the Conservancy, the ponies have been used to educate the public about the breed, which is critically endangered, and as therapy horses – another passion of Aho’s, which she said will still continue at the new location.

“We’re still going to be doing the [Equine Assisted Learning]. It’s a way to give back to the community, and that’s still important,” Aho said.

The Conservancy has signed a lease with the Monadnock Agriculture Center for both land and a house for the Ahos, and the couple intends to have made the final move by the early part of February. Nine ponies will make the move with them, with the majority of the ponies under the Conservancy’s care remaining in foster situations.


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