BARODA — Summer brings the chance to meet a friendly group of ponies with names like Ears and Roxy at North West Ranch in rural Baroda.
Equine camps are scheduled throughout the summer at Spring Creek Equestrian Center between Three Oaks and Galien.
And horse-drawn carriage rides near Warren Dunes State Park led by a white Percheron named Grace are being offered in front of the Beach Bucket/Kamp Across from the Dunes along Red Arrow Highway in Sawyer.
NORTH WEST RANCH
Pony rides for $5, a cowboy-themed playground, toys, crafts including sign-making, and more are offered at North West Ranch, 2050 West Snow Road (children are admitted for free and adults get in for $5).
Holly Lippert said the ponies spend much of the year at the other North West Ranch in Santo, Texas. The Baroda location is the family farm where Holly grew up (she’s a 1998 Bridgman High School graduate) that has been in the family for more than 50 years with cows, hay, dairy farming, horses and more taking place over the years.
Lippert has been an equine dentist for 17 years and has clients in this area, in Texas, and in other parts of the country.
Her 5-year-old son, Wyatt, was enjoying the “Pony Park” on a recent afternoon.
“He competes in little rodeos down in Texas and rides these ponies daily,” she said.
The four ponies that children can ride are Ears (a mule pony), Blueberry and Kickster (a duo famous for riding lessons throughout the are) and Abbie (a Shetland who might be on the way to having some little ponies down the road).
“They love to work,” Holly said. “They are not lazy, crabby ponies. These ponies enjoy the kids ... they all want the attention. God has blessed us with these animals.
The petting portion of the ranch features prancing Shetland/miniature horse Roxy — a show pony that has done charity events.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday (originally the ponies were going to travel back to Texas on July 4, but during their appearance in the Galien Fourth of July Parade Lippert said they now will stay up north into August). Birthday party groups are welcome. For more information, go to the North West Ranch Facebook page.
Spring Creek Equestrian Center owner Alison Grosse has been in the business for over 20 years, moving to the facility’s new home at 16771 Pardee Road about two years ago.
The full-service equestrian center has programs for beginners to experienced riders including training, boarding, leasing, riding lessons for all ages, day camps and birthday parties for kids, homeschooling sessions, overnight camps for kids, overnight horse camping, a heated indoor arena and a large outdoor arena, wooded trails and horse transportation.
Shelley Reynolds, who works with Grosse at Spring Creek, said there are 29 horses at the farm including “lesson horse of the year” Bert, a friendly 20-something Arabian.
Upcoming Summer Camp dates (sessions take place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) are July 12-14, and Aug. 2-4, 23-25, and 28-30. Camps offer a program of mounted riding lessons on experienced horses and instruction on the horse and its care led by qualified staff. Campers will be assigned a particular horse to care for and bond with during the day. Cost for Summer Camps is $200. Custom camps for groups of 6 or more also can be arranged.
For more information, call Spring Creek Equestrian Center at (269) 756-3894 or send an email to email@example.com.
Graceful Farm LLC owner John Moyer said Grace is stabled nearby in Bridgman and will typically be stationed along Red Arrow Highway at the Beach Bucket, 12033 Red Arrow Highway, from about 3 to 8 p.m., especially on weekends.
“The Beach Bucket has embraced us. They’ve allowed us to park here and do rides from here,” he said.
The Percheron pulls the carriage (with Moyer or Shawn Tellez driving) down nearby Browntown Road on a tour of about 30 minutes either toward the lake or to the east where there are vineyards and farms. Cost is $15 per person with discounts for larger groups (the carriage holds up to seven riders).
“With all the microbreweries popping up and the wineries we thought it would be a good idea to offer tours,” Moyer said, adding that tours within some of the area wineries and other scenic routes are a possibility in the near future.
Graceful Farm LLC also can be a part of weddings and other special events (call 269-405-3607).