Spreading out over 20 acres on Joliet Road, and straddling the lines between Jolietville and Westfield, sits an Indiana treat for the whole family.
Prancing Ponies continues its 5-year Pony Dayz tradition of delighting children, with parents and grandparents trailing good-naturedly along, while they explore a little slice of Americana countryside.
The land has been in the family for decades and the business is co-owned by husband-and-wife Bart Rowland and Donna Rowland, their daughter Brooke Peyton and son-in-law Michael Peyton. Brooke’s brother Colton Rowland, sister Sadie McClung, grandmother Jean Barnett, and aunt, Cindy Barnett, round out the family faces you may see taking admission tickets, helping with parking, or tackling other duties on any given Friday.
For those who may have seen Prancing Ponies out in the community, it may have been through one of the birthday parties or corporate events where they have been in demand since 2013.
“We’ve probably given over 10,000 pony rides here on the farm, at festivals, and parties through the years,” Brooke Peyton says. “We easily do 150 pony parties a year, have had 5,000 families to the farm, and about 200 kids in summer camps per year.”
Peyton, a former preschool teacher, is relishing her time gained with her three young children, ages 11 months, 6 years old, and 8 years old. She gives full credit for her dad, who created the whole concept behind Prancing Ponies.
“It was 100% my dad’s idea. We told him he was crazy, and we were completely wrong,” she says. “It continued to expand and it’s the third year we’ve offered summer camp and the fifth year we’ve been open to the public.
“We love experiencing a kid’s first pony ride or their first experience on the farm,” Peyton says. “A little girl said, ‘I waited my whole life to ride a pony,’ and she was maybe 3. It was adorable.”
Friday afternoons during the summer mean Pony Dayz, where gates open to an eager young audience for pony rides. But that’s just the beginning: Children can hold bunnies, meet chickens, pet livestock including sheep and goats and even get to leave bragging they walked a pig.
Ponies are almost always the main attraction and a summertime Down on the Farm camp series encourages campers to brush them and learn about equine care before sitting atop their first pony. Arts and crafts and farm living round out the camp adventures, which book up early.
Multiple events during Pony Dayz and during the week include:
The Farm Stand continues in its second year, making home grown produce available 24/7. Load up on seasonal, locally sourced Indiana tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, peaches, melons, and pumpkins, as well as beef and pork, so be sure to bring a cooler. Even the collection method is charmingly old-school, with a little technology added. Pay using the honor code by cash, credit or check.
New recreational structures have been added to the play area to allow children to play while spreading out in more space, with the farm theme incorporated throughout. It also features haybales with slides, a giant corn-filled sandbox, a chicken house with play eggs and chickens and rideable tractor toys.
The Country Store will open midsummer, with local artwork and handmade crafts from local artisans such as Free Spirit Leather Co.
An expanded picnic and parking area will also allow for a less-crowded environment. Coolers are welcome for families to bring lunches or snacks and drinks. Shade trees provide generous respites for quick breaks. Flushing bathroom facilities and handwashing stations are on-site.