Just off of Jolly Road, just barely in Mason, is a magical spot. The first time I visited, I could barely believe it was so near a highway, a university, and the big, stressful world.
Firefly Farm, presided over by the magnificent Sarah Fowler.
A woman of unexpected talents and mighty depths, she's a slight blonde with excellent biceps, several horses, a little (24-year-old) pony named Cupcake, a couple of smart dogs, chickens, ducks, cats, bunnies, and I think I spotted a couple turkeys. Each is named, each is loved.
There's a near-constant stream of "minions" who work for her, doing chores around the farm in exchange for lessons and riding privileges. But these aren't ordinary horseback riding lessons. They are centered around getting people to pay attention to the way a horse thinks and feels and acts. To respect the ... humanity? ... of the horse.
It's a lesson in connection, in relationship, in patience.
It's also terrifically fun. One of the first times I got to meet her horses, a boy horse (please remember I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, with no horses. The terms I use are the ones in my mind, and possibly not precisely correct. Forgive me) had just learned to unzip and zip zippers with his mouth. I was wearing a long winter coat, and he kept bumping my chest with his nose, and Sarah laughed. "Oh, he's trying to get to your zipper." She held out her glove (that had a zipper on the back) to him, and he delicately grasped the tab on the zipper and ZZZZIP, ZIIIP, ZIIIP, ZIIP. He zipped and unzipped with obvious pleasure and, I think, pride. "He's like a toddler. They learn a new trick and they want to do it all day long."
She runs lessons all year round, and in the summer and a few other times of the year, she has horse camps and horse courses for kids. She welcomes children of all levels of experience to work with the horses, get to know them, and to ride. They build their own obstacle courses, learn how to put on all the saddle-type things (remember, I'm not a horse person), and how to brush and generally make life wonderful for the horses. And apparently they decorate them!
But the most lovely thing is that her farm, her horses, her teaching, they are only one facet of her sparkling self. Do yourself a favor and meander over there sometime. You'll like her.