"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Our farm is located in the heart of the Mad River Valley, overlooking the scenic Sugarbush ski slopes. We practice natural horse care - a science-based approach to equine husbandry which produces happier, healthier horses. We take into account the physical, mental, and emotional needs of our horses, and our farm is specially designed and structured to meet these needs.
Horses evolved to live in herds, and to travel great distances each day, walking and foraging for food. When deprived of these natural behaviors, horses may become depressed, anxious, and/or afflicted with chronic health and behavior issues. We do our best to provide our horses with an environment that mimics the lifestyle they would naturally engage in - this includes ensuring that they spend the bulk of their time outside in a balanced herd, moving around varying terrain as their bodies evolved to do.
Our horses eat a high-forage diet, and we use a slow-feeder system to ensure that they eat consistently throughout the day.
This keeps the acid in their bellies low, and their blood sugar balanced, preventing common issues like colic, ulcers, obesity,and laminitis.
Unless they have preexisting metabolic issues or inflammatory conditions, we do provide the horses with daily grazing on our expansive, hilly pastures, which challenge the horses' movement by providing them with steep hills to balance on as they play and graze.
However, access to our pastures is verycarefully limited and regulated during months when the grass is rich and high in sugar, to prevent inflammation, laminitis, and other issues associated with a high-sugar diet.
During months when the sugar in the grass is lower and more stable, we adjust access accordingly.
Shelters and salt/mineral stations and watering stations are carefully spaced and designed to remove the need for resource guarding or conflict behaviors.
Our paddocks are purposefully designed to encourage movement over hills and inclines, which keeps our horses strong, fit, and aware of their bodies.
Our horses receive the finest individualized care, including bodywork/chiropractic/acupuncture/massage therapy as needed.
We are particularly proud of our hoofcare program, which utilizes the most current research and materials to support our equine athletes. Our head trainer, Jess, was one of three individuals who proposed a rule change to FEIF which resulted in the organization now allowing alternative hoof protection (nonmetal composite shoes and hoof boots) in sanctioned Icelandic sport competition. Since then, Jess has been the first professional rider in the US to compete in both sanctioned and World Ranking competitions using composite shoes instead of metal, and we have experienced tremendous benefits to our horses' health since utilizing this advanced hoofcare technology.
Here at the farm, we use a balanced trim style which is biologically appropriate and provides our horses with a healthy base of support and good posture and balance.
We use composite shoes or hoof boots for our own horses, and make use of glue as well as nails depending on the individual horse's needs. However, we have metal shoes available for boarders who wish to keep their homes shod in metal.
Our horses spend their days engaging in natural, healthy social behaviors such as play and mutual grooming.
The result is a mentally, physically, and emotionally balanced horse who is ready to work with his or her human partner.
Boarding With Us:
By design, we keep our program small and intimate so that every horse receives the one-on-one attention he or she deserves. With that in mind, we offer full-service board to a limited number of horses.
We offer paddock/pasture board in small, balanced groups with carefully spaced shelters, automatic waterers (heated in winter), and carefully regulated pasture grazing.
We have roomy box stalls in our stable available for use when necessary. While we specialize in Icelandic horses, we do occasionally board and train non-Icelandic horses when space allows.
None of our own horses have developed summer eczema (a non-contagious skin allergy which horses imported from Iceland occasionally develop in the US), although all are imported from Iceland. We attribute this to the climate, altitude, and wind-exposure we have here, and to our management practices in regards to manure removal. We have very few flies bothering the horses in the summertime as a result.
That said, we have had extremely good results managing summer eczema horses that have been boarded/placed in training with us. For horses who suffer from seasonal allergies, we have a good management treatment protocol which includes stabling at dawn and dusk, and use of powerful fans to prevent insects from landing on the horses.
Our farm has a spacious outdoor riding arena overlooking the mountains.
The ring boasts three area lights so that we can teach and ride all year round (even close to the solstice when the daylight hours are short).
Our farm offers easy access to endless miles of trails and dirt roads.
The dirt roads are similar to the riding roads in Iceland, and because they are plowed in the wintertime, they remain in excellent condition for riding year-round.
As of September 1st, 2017, we also offer access to a fenced ½ mile exercise track on which we can allow our horses to run freely together in a herd, similar to the way they would on a "rekstur" in Iceland. The track loops up and down hills and over challenging and varied terrain, providing excellent physical and mental exercise for our horses.
This track is also useful as a riding trail for young or beginner riders who do not yet feel comfortable riding on unfenced roads and trails, and is equally useful for introducing young horses to trail riding without the added risk of passing vehicles or wild animals. Below is a video of the first time our horses were let loose to explore the track:
We work hard to foster a friendly and supportive community for our boarders - not just a place to ride, but a "barn family." We live on-site and closely monitor our horses day and night.
Spaces are limited so contact us for rates and more information!
Click through the photos below to see more pictures of our horses enjoying life on our farm: