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A special magic

  • Claire Carson, 10, of Lexington Massachusetts, brushes her horse at the start of the Pony Farm camp day on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Maddy Brown, 12, of New Boston tacks up her pony, Josh.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Pony Farm camp goers warm up in the ring on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Pony Farm camp goers warm up in the ring on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Pony Farm camp goers warm up in the ring on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Pony Farm camp goers warm up in the ring on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Georgia Schmidt, 10, of Lutherville, Maryland, leads her pony Merango into the ring. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Pony Farm camp goers warm up in the ring on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Pony Farm camp goers warm up in the ring on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Pony Farm camp goers warm up in the ring on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 7:53PM

“It’s just this special magic,” said Nora McNamara, looking out over the porch of the Touchstone Lodge and over a paddock where a few horses mill about lazily, swishing at flies with their glossy tails. “It’s being in an environment that’s centered around horses and surrounding yourself with people that also love horses.”

McNamara is a staff member at the Pony Farm camp at Touchstone Farm in Temple. A few years ago, she was a camper herself. And the magic she feels when she returns from Bordewick, Massachusetts and steps foot on the farm is the same magic that has kept campers coming back and the camp thriving for 45 years.

Meg Rothnie, the camp’s assistant director, spent her childhood summers at the camp since she was seven. “I spent a month here,” she said. “And then two weeks at home crying because I wasn’t at Pony Farm.”

The all-girls camp runs one week or two week sessions where girls are assigned a horse that is exclusively “theirs” for the extent of their stay.

They are responsible for all the chores associated with keeping a horse, but in exchange get all the benefits – being able to learn to ride, jump, go on trail and carriage rides. And, they get to meet girls with built-in common ground to build friendships.

Olivia Garcia-Chope, a second year camper, said despite the fact that her sister had preceeded her in being a camper at Pony Farm, she was still nervous about her first experience at a sleep-away camp.

But those fears were soon dispelled as she made friends with her bunkmates and the counselors and riding instructors.

“The community was really nice to me,” said Garcia-Chope. “They helped me feel really comfortable. And I love my horse.”

“It’s a combination of responsibility and fun,” said Garcia-Chope’s mother, Kate Chope. “Being able to be immersed in the joy of horses without the pressures of the competative ring – they don’t seem to have a bad minute while they’re here.”

Camp Director Becky Hawkes is returning to Pony Farm for her 17th summer. She has seen her campers grow more independant and confident through their stay each year. And teaching girls to advocate for themselves is a big part of the lessons that Pony Farm imparts, she said.

“We have a predominantly female board and middle-management team,” said Hawkes. “It’s nice to see all the girl power.”

Empowerment was definitely one of her own take-aways from the Pony Farm experience, said Rothnie. She recalled the first time that she trotted on her pony while at camp, when her nerves were overcome by the encouragement of her bunkmates, instructor, and Touchstone Executive Director Isabella “Boo” Martin.

“I was terrified, but everyone was so supportive. And when I did it, Boo was standing on this very lawn, jumping up and down and screaming, ‘You did it!’” said Rothnie.

“That sense of genuine support is what makes this place special.”

For more information about Touchstone Farm and Pony Farm camp, visit www.touchstone-farm.org.