Gemara Farm has been in existence since 1980, but we started out with Arabians instead of fox trotters. It took several years for us to come to our senses, but once we got our first fox trotter, we were hooked. There's definitely some truth to the saying "To ride one is to own one". Actually, to own one is to own two, three, four.......uh, now the total is much higher.
Our MFT journey began when Bonnie traveled to MO and went to see a family friend who had fox trotters. She intended to come home with a trained mare but ended up with an untrained 18 month old gelding. After waiting for him to get old enough to ride, the training commenced with the help of Sandi Forester, Bonnie's dressage instructor at the time. Talk about the blind leading the blind! We had good long distance guidance though from Lee Ziegler who was very helpful with her articles and e-mails. The first time Char hit a flat foot walk going across the field, Bonnie was giggling. Since getting him going and moving the Arabians on to new homes, she has ridden nothing else other than fox trotters.
We have always believed in doing things as naturally as possible--horses living outdoors, training without gimmicks, and we have been doing the natural hoof trim since the '90s. In addition, Bonnie took several years of classical dressage lessons on the Arabians. When the switch was made to MFTs, she rode and trained a couple of them that way too. However, after discovering natural horsemanship and what it can do for horse and rider communication, that has become the way we start and handle all the horses. The dressage lessons helped learn rider/horse body control and equitation, and it ties in well with the natural horsemanship work that starts on the ground. The ground work then transfers to saddle work and has been our answer to how to develop a working partnership between horse and handler/rider. Our horses are a lot more fun, safer, and more responsive on the ground and under saddle with this kind of handling and can go on to do whatever discipline of riding anyone would want.
Our farm is not fancy, but it suits us. We grow our own hay and sell some of it. We have several boarded horses plus cats and a dog that have adopted and now own us. Bonnie worked with Mario Rossi, a horseman (DON'T call him a trainer!) in Concord, GA ,and in turn she now helps a few people who want to learn more about natural horsemanship. We call it the "trickle down effect". Continuing to go to clinics both as an auditor or a participant has kept us involved in digging deeper into how to improve our horsemanship and help our horses.