When I saw the glitter on the hoofs of the ponies, I knew this wasn’t your standard pony-riding excursion.
Sitting on the hills right outside Newberg, Oregon Dream Ponies offers visitors a chance to have their kids experience horses, in a low-key and educational environment.
Horseback riding and living in the country was a life-long dream of Kim Taylor, better known as “Cowgirl Kim” on the farm.
“We always lived in town, and my whole family still lives in town, but I was the odd one that wanted to live in the country,” she said. “Now we have this farm, and I love it.”
Taylor and her husband Bob, known as “Cowboy Bob,” purchased the Taylor’s Hillside Farm, a 5-acre property and started plans for the business. The property is beautiful, surrounded by organic Rex Hill wine fields, which makes it the perfect place to enjoy the wine country around Newberg, while at the same time giving you children a chance to learn about horses and ponies. The indoor arena has a wonderful backdrop no matter where you look, with wine fields on two sides and a view down onto the Willamette Valley on the other.
The Taylors work hard to make sure their farm is more than just a pony ride that you can get at a carnival or a roadside attraction.
“I was an educator and so each of my sessions have an educational element,” Kim said, sitting on one of several picnic tables in front of her covered arena. “We also offer farm tours for the whole family, so they can see what life is like on a farm.”
Not only does Taylor have seven small ponies, which can carry up to 65-pounds, but also ducks, dogs, chickens and a cat. The couple is also cultivating Christmas trees on the property, and plan to have a lot when they are mature.
The experience is an intimate one, without the hustle-and-bustle of riding a pony at a carnival. Your child gets to experience the pony and understand how things work, learn about safety, and really feel like they got a lesson, instead of just a random ride.
“As an educator, utilizing a child’s current level of developmental and going at their pace creates such an environment to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time,” she said. “We want to make this a very positive experience for them. This is a great place to bring kids, or even adults, who are curious about riding horses, but are a little apprehensive about a large animal.”
The couple offer everything from birthday parties with the ponies, to farm tours, pony ride experiences and even a decorating experience where children to help decorate the pony.
“I wanted this to be an environment that got kids past the fear of riding horses and by helping to decorate and touch, it really helps them connect,” she said. “We have ribbons in the pony’s hair, glitter on their hooves and even pink and purple saddle blankets.”
But don’t worry, boys aren’t left out – there is Bob the Pony, who sports a red, white and blue ribbon. Taylor said she worked hard to find the right ponies, and any tricks they know, she spent the time to teach them.
“For me safety is our highest priority, so I wanted to make sure that these ponies – which are really smart – were also the types of animals that would be ok in this setting,” she said. “We have a great group of ponies and they love the kids.”
Taylor also takes the ponies off the farm for farmers markets and other experiences, mostly to promote her farm. However, as a former teacher, she also visits local schools with the ponies.
“For us it’s about sharing the experience and teaching kids about animals and living in the country,” she said.
About Oregon Dream Ponies: Oregon Dream Ponies is a 5-acre farm near Newberg, Oregon that caters to giving people their first experience with horses and ponies. Focused mostly on children, they offer pony rides with a plus – an educational experience about the animals and how to act around them safely.
What to bring: The arena at Taylor Hills Farms where Oregon Dream Ponies is located is covered, but open-air. So make sure to layer yourself and your kids in case the Oregon weather takes a turn. Also, bring you camera and even a lunch, and enjoy the scenery and eat on the picnic tables provided.
Tip: Booking your trip in advance is a must, as during the summer there is a wait to get to see the ponies. This isn’t a roadside attraction, so an appointment is necessary and you can schedule a time through phone or email.
Season: The farm is open year-round.
Getting there: The farm is located along a gravel road at 16725 NE Hillside Drive, Newberg, OR 97132. It is about 15 minutes from Highway 99W.
By Patrick Johnson