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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Bringing Kids and Ponies Together at Pink Pony Farm

Dec 04, 2013 12:21PM ● By Linda Sechrist

“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves—strong, powerful, beautiful—and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.”
Australian poet Pam Brown

For the Jimenez family—father John Paul, wife Joanne, son Jonathan and daughters Juliette and Jilliana—horses are much more than dreams. In fact, they are wholly integrated into the family’s lifestyle, which largely revolves around their two businesses, Jimenez Jumpers and Pink Pony Farm, both in Naples.

While Jimenez Jumpers is John Paul’s specialty, Joanne runs Pink Pony Farm, which offers camp programs, riding as therapy, birthday pony parties and beginning riding lessons. “My husband, a horse professional, is in charge Jimenez Jumpers, buys and trains horses to sell and teaches adolescents and adults how to competitively ride and show horses, while I teach children how to ride and give them the opportunity to learn to love horses. If children want to continue, they can purchase a pony, train with my husband and participate with their pony in competitions,” says Joanne.

The Jimenezes relocated to Naples from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, in 2005. “When we lived in Ohio, we spent January, February and March in Wellington, Florida, where there is an exceptional equestrian center. Horse enthusiasts affectionately refer to Wellington as a playground for horses. It’s where all Olympic riders show their horses during the winter months,” explains Joanne, who adds that in Florida, she and John Paul operated Pine Ridge Farm before relocating to Livingston Woods three years ago.

To demonstrate how easily children grasp the concept of riding early in their lives, Joanne points out that Jonathan, who is 12 years old, began riding at age 5. Juliette, almost 4, and Jilliana, 2, are both riders. “Juliette can trot and canter, and Jilliana can post to the trot, which means she can rise up and down in rhythm with the horse,” affirms Joanne.

Joanne considers riding as therapeutic because it nurtures a sense of self-empowerment in children. “Even when small children have the smallest responsibility for a pony, such as brushing them, picking their hooves or giving them a bubble bath, it bolsters their confidence and helps them emotionally. Riding helps them physically by improving their balance,” she explains. “I’ve also taught children from very difficult family backgrounds,” she notes, adding that she has seen many shy children become more extroverted and confident by taking lessons. “They not only gained confidence after learning to ride, but also blossomed and flourished, despite their challenges.”

Riding horses is hardly a novelty for anyone in the Jimenez family. “Horses have always been such a big part of our lives that we all have a tendency to forget that others consider an equestrian lifestyle as something special. This is just one of the reasons that I take the ponies into the community for events such birthday parties or festivals at local schools. I’m passionate about bringing children and ponies together. When kids ride a pony, they are in the moment, enjoy the ride and flash the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen,” enthuses Joanne.

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