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A Great Day to Celebrate Horses

Sunday, September 9 turned out to be a spectacular day to celebrate the horse at Mitchell Farm in Salem.

 

The sun was 
shining, the skies were blue, kids were laughing and horses were doing their
 thing. All this took place at Mitchell Farm in Salem this month as part of the “Celebrating the Horse” event.

The event, a fundraiser for the farm, was originally slated for Saturday. Due to tornado threats, however, 
it was postponed until Sunday, which turned out to be the perfect day for this spectacular
 event. In an effort to help educate people about all the wonderful ways in 
which they can share their lives with horses and have fun, this fundraiser
 showcased several different riding disciplines such as dressage, show jumping,
 side saddle, authentic paseo, Tennessee Walking horses and mounted pony club 
games. It was a quite a sight to see.

“This was an
 absolutely perfect day for this event,” said Dee Doolittle, founder and 
executive director of Mitchell Farm.  

“Everyone
 enjoyed themselves and all the horses did a great job.”

Doolittle,
 who has loved and cared for horses her entire life, saw a need for a retirement
 sanctuary for horses several years ago and decided to step in and fill that 
void. Mitchell Farm was started in 2004 and has been caring for retired and
aged horses ever since. Currently there is a six-year waiting list for a space
 at the farm,with over 30 horses on that list.

“My advice to 
horse owners is to plan ahead for their horse’s retirement,” said Doolittle,
 who is proud of her work.

Someone else
 who is proud of Doolittle’s work and always excited to support the farm’s program 
is U.S. Dressage Federation Certified Instructor Ann Guptill of Fox Ledge Farm
 in East Haddam. Guptill, who travels the United States conducting workshops, 
graced the ring at the celebration with her mount T Mad Hatter, a poised 12
 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.

Together, the elegant team seamlessly 
displayed the athletic ability, harmony, strength and balance of musical freestyle 
dressage, awing the audience to steel guitar renditions of popular songs.

“Events like 
this are important because they give people a window into the equestrian world,”
 said Guptill, who was also part of the Pony Club games along with her sons.

“I think it
is great for people to see all the different ways you can ride and have a good 
time with horses. Plus, it’s fun for everyone to watch,” added Guptill’s oldest 
son, James Iarusso. He has been riding since he was four years old and has
 hopes of competing in the International Pony Club event.

In addition
to Guptill, guests were pithy to the chance to see Lynn Sanders on her Grand
Prix prospect, six year-old Hanoverian gelding “Point Defiant”, as well as the
 excitement of the Connecticut Valley Pony Club mounted games, pitting team Dead
Beat against the Wild Things.  

Reigning 
things in, Shanna Greg and her strikingly beautiful mount Flash, gave an 
eloquent display of side saddle riding, exhibiting a bit of equine history. The 
day ended with a finale ride from Bettina Drummond and her stately Lusitano stallion 
riding an authentic paseo, complete with ornate garb and traditional Portuguese 
music.

Beyond the
 show ring, guests were encouraged to walk the grounds, tour the barn and hand 
feed the horses as volunteers looked on. A crowd favorite was Tommy, a stunning
 22 year-old Pinto Irish Sport horse who shares his pasture with his “girl
friend” and best buddy Easy, a 27 year-old Argentine Thoroughbred who was used 
as a polo pony.

The oldest horse currently on site is Chill, a Thoroughbred who 
is 31 and the youngest is Buddy at 12, a Quarter Horse/Palomino who had a knee 
injury when he was young.

To be
 eligible for retirement at Mitchell Farm, horses have to be at least 20
 years-old or have an infirmity. There is 
a onetime fee paid by the owners, who must relinquish ownership of their 
animals. Once retired, the horses are never ridden or used for work again. They 
are fed, cared for and vetted for the rest of their lives, happy to graze in
 the lush green pastures.

The farm’s official philosophy is “Retired horses are
 given the time and space to remember and learn how to just be a horse again.”

Mitchell Farm is a
 non-profit equine retirement facility that holds several fundraisers throughout
 the year to offset the cost of caring for the 29 retired horses that currently 
occupy the 50-acre homestead.

th. For more information about the festival, volunteer
opportunities or how to donate to the farm go to, www.mitchellfarm.org.

Karena Garrity September 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Sorry for the misprint it should read James Iarusso.
Wendy Vincent September 17, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Fixed it. Sorry, you did send that to me in an email. I forgot to change it.

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