Ever since I was a boy, I have stayed away from horses, ponies, stables and barns. You see, I have allergies. Bad allergies to everything associated with horses, ponies, stables and barns. Which is ironic as I grew up on a horse farm. Anytime I went anywhere near the barns I would be nearly incapacitated with teary eyes, a constantly gushing river of snot from the nose and unstoppable sneezing. We tried going to the allergy specialist once. His name was Charlie Brown. A name like that instills confidence in your doctor, right? Yeah, I thought so. Anyway, he scratched my back with a needle and dripped about 50 drops of various substances on my back with the theory that, should I be allergic to any of them, the drops would redden indicating a reaction. The theory worked. I did react. However, I reacted to all 50 substances meaning that I should probably have been spending my life in a bubble. Needless to say, we did not return for a followup.
Which leads me to our first stop in Europe. Collendoorn and Pony Park City. A large ranch full of horses, ponies, stables and barns. Puzzled?
In researching our trip, Deanne came across a listing for this place called Pony Park City in a, wait for it…… anti-Trump video. That’s right! Trip planning based on places Trump doesn’t know about.
When Deanne saw Pony Park City mentioned, she knew it was place we had to go visit. Allergies, Shmallergies.
Here, you can rent a cabin which comes with your own personal pony to love, cuddle and brush. Luckily, we have a little girl who has always dreamed of having a pony that she could love, cuddle and brush. Rationalizing that I could fill myself with allergy medicines prior to going and build up an immunity, she booked us 4 days here.
We are into our third day. It is actually a very lovely place. There are families everywhere each pulling their own little pony around. The trails around the area are very nice with lots of room to wander around. Each morning, you go to the central barn and choose your pony for the day. Once you have chosen the pony, you bring it back to your cabin. You can feed it, brush it, put braids in its hair and take it along the paths with the kids taking turns riding on the pony’s back. As the ponies do not come with saddles, bits or reins, fine control of the pony can be challenging and the ponies can often be stubborn and ill-tempered if you try to take the pony in a direction that is anywhere away from a source of food, which is just about anywhere! The one English family review we read, (and there are not many as this is not a well-known site beyond the Netherlands, so it is mostly just Dutch and German speaking tourists here), said that, while a lovely place that you should visit, it is a concept that would never happen in North America due to issues with liability. The ponies are not guaranteed to be friendly and can buck, bite and refuse to move. Liam was almost bucked off once and Siena has had the ponies try to bit her on several occasions. The ponies we have had don’t seem to like being brushed at all! It has been a bit of a dose of reality for our children. Ponies are not always magical!
That being said, the kids are having a delightfully glorious time. They have enjoyed riding the ponies around the site and Siena was up extra early this morning yearning to head out to make sure she got an Appaloosa pony. We have had splendid walks and everyone has been super friendly whenever we got into a spot of trouble with the pony. The cabin is rustic yet comfortable with a full kitchen and most everything we would need, though the beds are a little hard. The weather has been fantastic too! After the sweltering heat of the Maritimes, the cool, pleasant, yet sunny days here in Collendoorn have been a relief. We have not attempted any of the shows (which veer more towards the kitschy, politically incorrect theme of Cowboys vs Indians) as they are all in Dutch. Most importantly, my allergies have thankfully not been an issue, and it has been a wonderful place to relax, do some reading, enjoy the outdoors and see the kids pleasure in riding their pony through the sun-dappled wood trails.