Thank you volunteers on the Groton Work Day!

Future equine campers at New Discovery Campground at Groton State Forest will love the new corrals in place thanks to the efforts of more than a dozen volunteers who showed up on Saturday, May 21 to pound in pipe, lug and install corral panels, paint and enjoy lunch and equine conversation! Thanks to Peter Otto, Brenda and Morris Lasell, Mike and Phyllis Civitello, Heidi Krantz,   Steward Hammond, Angelita Guzman, Meg Costello,  Bob DeSorbo, Nancy Boldt, Dick Chase,  Patty Hammond and Chelsea Magnant for their time and talents!

Work on Saturday was made possible because of support from donors, including those who bought tickets for our quilt raffle, and to Sue James who made the quilt...donate to help us finish this project,. $3800 TO GO!


Dear VHC Members,

The Northeast Kingdom Equestrian Trails (NEKET) ride is scheduled for September 8-10 and is open to all VHC members at no additional cost.   Go to for general information on the Victory Basin ride.  Similar to past years, this year’s event will offer a combination of camping, informal trail riding and organized rides. Attendees can come as early as September 8th to camp and ride on their own both Thursday and Friday. Saturday will involve organized rides over several trails and a group pot luck in the evening.  Sunday small groups or individuals usually return to favorite locations before breaking camp midday.

Because this ride is open to all VHC members, we wanted to start planning for the ride by offering our impressions of last year’s ride and solicit suggestions and help from folks that participated in the ride or have expressed an interest inVHC trail rides.   Last year was a mixed bag in terms of a successful ride. Looking back, our impressions are:

Attendance was down due to: 

  • Our attempt to charge VHC members a fee for the ride.   Just before the ride the VHC board determined that no charge should be made to members based on historical precedents.  Nevertheless, some were still upset.  There will be no charge for this year’s event. 
  • Folks may be tired of riding the same Kirby and Bog loops (see attached map). We have identified an additional variation for the Kirby Loop andanother that would allow for a shorter version of the Bog Loop.  As soon as things dry up we need volunteers to ride and map these areas. We’ll also have to confirm access and insurance across private parcels.
  • Other than the VHC website there was no publicity about the ride. We should consider posters placed in local gathering spots. 

What other thoughts do you have about how attendance could be improved?  We heard that a poker ride one day may be an attraction.  Also, the gift swap at last year’s Willoughby Ride was a big success. 

Water for horses was a planning and execution nuisance.  One member provided her personal 500 gallon tank. Another member borrowed a trailer, picked up the tank and filled it several towns away. We are looking for a simpler way. Walt, the campsite owner, has indicated we can fill the tank at his place. 

Firewood was not a problem.  Just a few folks bringing wood seems to meet this need.

Sign-in went OK and the presence of a tent created a clear focal point for sign in and announcement.  The wind/rain storm the next day damaged the tent.  We can patch it together enough to work this year but it is clearly on its last legs. We had to scramble for a couple of tables and chairs.  

When we switched from charging members for the ride we asked them to donate to the Scholarship Fund if they felt like it.  We collected $140 for the fund and will probably also ask for donations this year. 

Camping went well. We had one instance of loose horses and everyone seemed to locate their rigs where they wanted.   

 The Saturday pot luck was adequate but not very exciting.  Is adding a gift exchange or preplanning who brings what types of dishes a good idea?

As far as we know, the signs posted on Route 2 and at close-by intersections provided adequate direction on how to get to the camp/ride site. 

In past years a porta john has been placed at the campsite for the period of June- September.  Last year it was placed there only for the week covering the NEKET ride.   The rental is expensive and we received no complaints about it only being available for the ride week.  We propose a ride week -only approach this year.  Any comments? 

Once again we are looking for volunteers to help plan and manage the ride period. Areas where we need help include:

  • Laying out new trails
  • Pre-ride trail maintenance
  • Trail marking
  • Installing signs
  • Providing firewood
  • Organizing the pot luck
  • Rider check-in and checking papers
  • Leading organized rides
  • Camp site cleanup
  • Water

If you have impressions of last year’s ride and comments, suggestions for this year’s ride or any interest in helping contact me at or call 802-624-0544. We will be holding a planning meeting in June, date to be determined.

Thank you,
Jim Nickerson


SEPTEMBER 22-24, 2017

Please join us on our annual ride in beautiful Tunbridge Vermont.

This is a two day ride w/plenty of camping at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds. It includes all meals, showers, stalls or paddocks, a silent auction, 50/50 raffle and bonfire.

There are lots of new friendships to be made and old ones to re-kindle.

Saturday night dinner features “Prime Rib” cooked on site with all the fixings to accommodate.

Can’t wait to see you all there.

Check out the VHC website for entry forms and more information.

Any questions, contact Patricia Branon – 802-343-4140.






We are ready to install the next three corrals at New Discovery Campground. Please come and support the Vermont Horse Council’s efforts to improve your riding and camping experience. Many hands make light work – we could utilize the help of 15 people.

WHEN: Saturday, May 20, 2017 (rain date May 21, 2017); 9 am – 4 pm (if you can only stay for a couple of hours that’s okay too).

WHERE: Meet at New Discovery Campground, Groton State Forest, 4239 VT RT 232
Marshfield, VT 05658

WHAT TO BRING: work gloves, a lunch and water

For more information please contact:

Phyllis Civitello
110 Edwards Rd.
Chelsea, VT05038
(802) 685-2275

If you are interested in making a weekend outing of this event, camping is available to people helping on this project (pre season privileges). Please contact Phyllis for reservations and more information about this option.

Learn to Speak HORSE!

Champlain Adaptive Mountain Program (CHAMP) partners with Vermont Horse Council to offer a one-day clinic with horse trainer and equine-assisted learning instructor Sharon Wilsie of Wilsie Way Horsemanship Horse. Join Ms. Wilsie on Sunday May 21 at the Good Hope Farm in South Hero to learn a practical system for “listening“ and “talking” to horses in their language.

Horse Speak can be used by any individual who works with horses. It promises improved understanding of what a horse is trying to tell you, as well as providing simple replies you can use to communicate with your horse.

Champlain Adaptive Mountain Program (CHAMP) partners with Vermont Horse Council to offer a one-day clinic with horse trainer and equine-assisted learning instructor Sharon Wilsie of Wilsie Way Horsemanship Horse. Join Ms. Wilsie on Sunday May 21 at the Good Hope Farm in South Hero to learn a practical system for “listening“ and “talking” to horses in their language.

Horse Speak can be used by any individual who works with horses. It promises improved understanding of what a horse is trying to tell you, as well as providing simple replies you can use to communicate with your horse.

Ms. Wilsie will share a number of exercises to practice regulating your intensity, helping you begin to manage what’s going inside your body as well as outside bringing your communication to a whole new level.

The clinic runs from 10:30 am until 4:30 pm on May 21 and participants can register to audit, or participate with their horse. Registration includes lunch. Proceeds benefit CHAMP equine assisted therapy programs and the Vermont Horse Council.

Details and registration can be found at or email


Vermont Historical Society to Feature History of the Morgan Horse


Vermont Historical Society to Feature History of the Morgan Horse


A new exhibit about the history of the Morgan horse will open at the Vermont History Museum, operated by the Vermont Historical Society, in Montpelier at the end of April. The exhibit is the first to be shown in their new Local History Gallery after a major renovation of the museum. The Local History Gallery is located within the Freedom & Unity exhibit and was created to spotlight rotating exhibits created by Vermont’s more than 190 local historical societies and museums.

The paintings, photographs, and objects in the temporary Morgan horse exhibit are from the collection of the National Museum of the Morgan Horse, formerly of Middlebury, Vermont. Amy Mincher, director of the National Museum of the Morgan Horse, said, “We are so honored to be asked by the Vermont Historical Society to share some of our collections at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier. It is a perfect fit, as the Morgan horse is a quintessential part of Vermont’s history.”

The exhibit provides an overview of the history of the Morgan breed, including information about the first horse, Figure, who was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts, but came to live with his owner in Randolph, Vermont in the early 1790s. The Morgan horse became an essential element on New England farms, helping clear land, hay, and drag sleighs through the woods during sugaring season. Visitors to the exhibit will also learn about how Morgans were race horses, important Cavalry mounts in military conflicts from the Civil War to World War I, and became grand show horses, bred and beloved by individuals throughout the country. The exhibit will be on display through August.

Some items from our collection that will be featured in the exhibit.

When can you see the exhibit?
The Vermont History Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.  It is located in the Pavilion Building (next to the State House) at 109 State Street in Montpelier, VT. Visit their website,, for more information. All are invited to explore and celebrate the renovated Vermont History Museum for free on Saturday, April 29 from 10:00am to 3:00pmVisitors will be greeted by a lighter, brighter entrance to the museum and the new National Life Gallery featuring the impressive Paul Sample mural, “Salute to Vermont.”

AHC Urges Horse Community to Take Part in USDA Agricultural Census

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is preparing to conduct its 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. Horses will be included in the Census.  Every five years, USDA-NASS conducts an agriculture census to determine the number of U.S. farms and ranches and gather vital information about U.S agriculture, including the horse community. The census is a valuable tool to help the USDA determine land use and ownership, livestock populations, operator characteristics, production practices, farm income as well as other important information.

The announcement of the USDA-NASS census comes as the American Horse Council has initiated their 2017 Equine Industry Economic Impact Study. The AHC economic study questionnaire will be finalized this month and begin collecting data in the following weeks. These two separate, yet concurrent studies will provide both the industry and the public with a strong image of the state of the industry in 2017. The AHC strongly encourages everyone who is offered the opportunity to participate in either, or both, of these studies to do so. The economic impact and the census are critical to promoting the horse industry. 

The AHC continues to promote the USDA-NASS census due to the critical need for the horse community to be properly accounted for in the federal governments agricultural findings. The information collected by the Census will be used to develop federal and state agricultural policy for the next five years. It’s vital all farms and ranches with horses participate in the census so the USDA, and the nation at large, has accurate information regarding the size and scope of the horse community.

Farm or ranch owners who participated in the last Census in 2012 will automatically be mailed a survey that can be filled in and mailed back. If a farm or ranch was not part of the 2012 Census or has not received a form in the mail, the owner can go to the USDA’s census website and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June.

According to the USDA guidelines for the Census, a farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products, including horses, were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.

Further information on the 2017 Census of Agriculture can be found on the USDA’s website


The Vermont Horse Council is pleased to announce the 2017 grant/scholarship program.   Details for application can be found on the VHC website

Three areas of focus are included for consideration:

1.     College scholarship (Cliff Murray and Floyd Fuller Memorial Scholarship for accredited college study)

2.     Youth & 4-H scholarship (4-H, Pony Club, youth activities geared toward individuals 19 years of age or younger)

3.     Adult Continuing Education for VHC members (individual accredited college courses, clinics, American Horse Council activities, workshops).  


Due to our unusually late spring, travel to the practice location is tenuous.  Therefore commencement of the drill team practice has been postponed until April 20, 2017; 6 - 7 pm at Charlie Ballou’s arena (3138 West Street, Brookfield, VT 05036).  We welcome all participants. For more information please contact Jeannette Cole ( or 802-485-3087).  

Learn about equine lameness and Support the VHC!

Register Now! 

Learn about equine lameness and Support the VHC!

April 8 Equine Lameness Clinic at Lazy Acres Equines 867 Pearl St., Brandon

Featuring Dr. Matt Rose, DVM and Ellen Miller of Ellen Miller Riding School

Potluck lunch, Great information, Kick off the Spring Riding Season!

Proceeds support the programs of the Vermont Horse Council

go to to register

Important 2017 Priorities Link -Newsletter Correction

To all VHC members:  my feedback request is working.  I have had several comments about the newsletter.  Thank you all who have sent encouragement, to those of you who have sent improvement ideas, to those of you who have sent pictures for the next newsletter and finally to those of you who have found errors.  To that point, the link to the important 2017 priorities was broken and therefore didn’t open properly.  Here is the corrected link

Thank you again for all of your support to our organization. 

Most sincerely,
Jeannette Cole, VP VHC and Newsletter Editor

Call to Action -March 6, 2017

Hello VHC Members and Friends,

The Vermont Farm Bureau has been working to change the definition of farming to more fully include equine establishments. I’ve pasted below, in italics the most recent language that has been presented to the House Committee of Agriculture and Forestry and the Senate Committee on Agriculture. VHC Secretary, Terry Rose and I spoke before these committees in February, and they are primed to hear from their constituents. I am meeting with Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Anson Tebbetts later this month and will bring this message to him as well.

We need your help to advance this change! Please follow up with your representatives and senators to support this change. We need the most help in the house. A call, letter or email goes a long way – VHC can’t lobby, but as voters, you can reach out to your senators and representatives. You can find their contact info at Find Your Legislator

Among the items you could address are:

1. Change language from equality issues to horse farms should be encouraged as preferred rural development
2.  Change it from receiving tax advantages to horse farms support the rural economy: hiring employees, paying property tax, paying education tax while putting very little demand on the public purse, considerably less than housing developments.
3. Change it from loss of farmers and farms in the next fifteen years through retirement to make Vermont open for horse businesses.
4. Change it from loss of equipment dealers, open lands and feed and seed dealers to horse farms will keep them operating.

Add your own thoughts. You'll need to start the conversation now in crossover week when your legislators are home.  Talk to your own legislators and get them to talk to Dick Lawrence, R, Caledonia county and/ or Carolyn Partridge, D, Windham County. They listen to their constituents!!!

Thank you for taking action –

Heidi Krantz, President
Vermont Horse Council

Here is the info sent by Lyn DesMarais of the Farm Bureau to The Committee Chairs:

Dear Chairman Starr, Vice Chairman Pollina, Madam Chair Partridge and Vice Chairman Lawrence, 

Our horse farmers understand your concerns that they produce neither food nor fiber. But like ornamental plants, farm stands and Christmas trees,  they do believe that they are an integral part of Vermont's agricultural working landscape.  They also believe that they, through the care and handling of their animals, feed, haying, manure management and the like, engage in more  purely agricultural practices than some diversified agri-businesses. 

Mainly they want to wholly belong and to be treated equally by all Vermont agencies as agriculture and not just by a few.  Vermont Farm Bureau policy fully supports this request.  
We'd like to ask you to amend the definition of a farmer in the current use law which is found at 32 VSA chapter 124 , section 3752(7)  (it would be a new small Roman numeral 4 or (iv))  to be the same as the language below, which is also from Vermont statute,  Act 250. 
It is the definition of farming found in 10 VSA (section) 6001 (22)(G): 

(iv) who is engaged in the raising, feeding, or management of four or more equines owned or boarded by the farmer, including training, showing, and providing instruction and lessons in riding, training, and the management of equines.




Midstate Riding Club Drill Team

Equestrian Announcement

Are you looking for some exercise for your body and mind? Would your horse benefit from the same? Then please come and join the Midstate Riding Club drill team.

Equestrian drill teams have evolved from their original military origin into synchronized, precision maneuvers on horseback purely for the enjoyment of participants and a variety of audiences. Horses learn to modulate their gaits effectively, work in close proximity with other horses and become softly responsive to rider cues. Teams can consist of 4 to 20 members and often perform to audiences worldwide. Two famous drill teams of note are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Queen’s Guard. Competitions are held within the United States under the governance of the United States Equestrian Drill Association (USEDA). This might be our future vision, but for our team, we will start with the basics.

We will begin human practice on April 6, 2017 at 6 pm at Charlie Ballou’s indoor arena. The address is 3138 West Street, Brookfield, VT 05036. All you need to bring is your enthusiasm. Drill safety, patterns and music will be the order of business for the first four weeks.

May 4, 2017, weather permitting; we will bring our horses to the Midstate Riding Ring in Randolph, Vermont. From that day through September 7, 2017 we will improve our drill skills with our horses each week.

All members are welcome to attend free of charge. Jeannette Cole will be the drill coach and will offer guidance and encouragement from the ground. If you are not a member, but would like to join the group please access the membership form on the Midstate Riding Club website (

All sessions start at 6 pm and end at 7 pm. Helmets are required for all mounted sessions. We will start slowly, working at a walk or a trot. Therefore, if you are a beginner to drill team we hope you will feel quite welcome. These sessions are about having fun with your horse, enjoying time with your equine community and learning new skills.

Hope to see you in April!