TALES FROM THE TRAILS
Ponies & Palms Show Stables is a family type of place in more ways than one. Owner Leslie Butzer started the business in 2004 with a twofold vision: breeding hunter ponies to be future champions, and creating a barn that acted and felt like family to clients. She succeeded at both.
Tucked away on 20 acres in western Boca Raton, the facility includes two large barns, a schooling ring, a derby field, a covered arena, a round pen and many grass pastures. The farm offers boarding, lessons and showing. Leslie shares the enjoyment of her business with her daughters. Lisa is a top amateur rider and helps run the farm, Lindsay is a future veterinarian, and twins Lena and Logan are also involved.
By 2008, the farm expanded into a top lesson barn, catering to young children eager to learn to ride and immerse themselves in the daily responsibilities of caring for ponies. The barn was elevated to a whole new level in 2010 with the addition of trainer Gary Duffy.
“I grew up riding and showing,” Lisa said. “When I started working with Gary, I became really confident, and this year I’ll be showing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in the 3’3” Amateur Hunters. We have a nice group of adults who ride with us, but we mainly have children who come out after school and on weekends. This is a place to relax and disconnect from the crazy world.”
There are also plenty of get-togethers and parties going on.
“We’re all about families coming out and having a good time without any pressure, people brought together through their love of horses,” Lisa said. “All of our ponies are talented and have the best temperaments. They’re safe, sane, and reliable to help kids gain confidence and experience. Our clients are people who want to learn to ride and be comfortable around horses. We have people at all ends of the spectrum, from pleasure riders to people going to local school shows, and some who want to show at a higher level.”
Tom Panico boards Vickie, his Thoroughbred mare, at the farm. “Vickie loves the oversized stalls,” he said. “She’s content and happy. The grooms are excellent and very personable. The stalls are kept spotless, and I love the grassy paddocks. The covered arena means I can always work her, regardless of the weather. The kids are very respectful. I always enjoy being there. I’m also pleased that they welcome other trainers and are open to natural horsemanship.”
Courtney Glotzer recently graduated from the University of Vermont and is bringing her horse back to Ponies & Palms. “I trust them to always do what’s best for the horses,” she said. “I never worry. Their riding facilities are great, and the atmosphere is uplifting and fun. There are no negative people there.”
Rebekah Watkins boards four horses there, and her daughters Brielle, 5, and Skylah, 3, ride ponies. “It fits all my needs,” she said. “I can ride and show, and the girls can ride and show. It’s like Disneyland for kids, very safe and family-oriented. They can play on swings or with the puppies, and there are always eyes watching out. This is how it should be. I highly recommend this barn to all my friends, especially anyone with kids.”
Over the weekend of Dec. 12-13, the farm conducted a clinic with top trainer Trudy Glefke.
“We’re hoping she’ll stay with us permanently,” Lisa said. “I think she’ll be a good fit.”
Linda Wolosyn, who helps keep the Posse shows running smoothly, was on hand to visit with her old mentor. “I rode with Trudy every day back in the 1970s, starting when I was 8,” Linda said. “Before and after school, and every summer my mom sent me away with her. We drove to shows in Virginia and Tennessee. It was great. I learned so much from her. I still use what she taught me — don’t interfere with the horse, and don’t use a lot of bits and gadgets. I’d love to see her here on a permanent basis.”
Carolyn Berry attended the clinic. She rides at Ponies & Palms, along with her two daughters Olivia, 9, and Eve, who celebrated her seventh birthday at the clinic, complete with hats and cake.
“This barn is a gift to me and my daughters,” she said. “This is our family time and our sport, a place where we come together with nature. The teenage girls are wonderful role models in terms of character and sportsmanship. I can’t imagine a better place for me and my girls.”
For more information, call (561) 756-4442 or find “Ponies & Palms Show Stables” on Facebook.