The Peppermint Pony
© Angela Cichetti Deppe, 2008
Do you do Parties in the Winter?
Some of our most wonderful parties have been in the winter. Winter parties are booked on a case-by-case basis, according to the jet stream. We do not like to book far out in advance, unless you are certain you will accept one of our alternate entertainment services in lieu of rides if there is bad weather. We are in climate Zone 6b - so our travel conditions are much worse than those in DC or Annapolis.
Sometimes we just shut down for the winter, sometimes if it is mild -we can fit you in. If the roads are passable we are always open for a Face Painting or Balloon Twisting party.
© Angela Cichetti Deppe, 2008
How soon do I have to Book?
The rule of thumb is, book as soon as you are set on your date. We start booking for the new year on January 8th, when we have set our pricing and packages for the season. We keep a waiting list.
Check our calendar for available dates. Saturdays are busiest for us, especially following a holiday weekend. Preference is given to parties that start before 1pm, or 4pm or later.
Very frequent question! Luckily, our parties work especially well in modest locations. It loses a bit of charm when we have to spread out too far. We work in your front yard, and do the rides generally on the cul de sac, up and down a side yard, or in the street. It is easier on the ponies to work on a firm surface. We need shade for setup and for the riding area. Our current pony provider is comfortable with backyard work.
But we are a Non-Profit...
So are we! Working with animals isn't profitable...if it is, you're probably doing it wrong.
But seriously, we cannot discount our Saturday times, nor Sundays during May/September/October. If you are having a weekday event or something off-season, we would be glad to work something out for you.
We cannot donate to silent auctions, because we must approve every client and location for suitability.
Are you Licensed?
We are not required to license pony parties. If you are using a venue, our insurance company can add them as an additional insured.
The ponies have all the standard inoculations (including rabies), worming, foot and dental care. They are our show ponies and our treasured family members. They enjoy traveling and working.
The USDA does not have jurisdiction over pony ride businesses as they do with petting zoos so no licensing is required. Horses and ponies do not transmit diseases to humans such as e.coli, salmonella or botulism - so stash the hand sanitizer, relax and enjoy!
Mais Oui! Of course!
We have a patented, time-tested method of carrot feeding that we do in ritual fashion at the end of each party. Please do not bring out your carrots before that time - the children will not be able to stay off of them, and uninformed guests will hand them out.
It is very important that the ponies are fed *nothing* by the guests until this point. Yew, which is a common landscaping plant on older properties, is deadly poisonous to ponies in very small amounts. We don't want any adults communing with the ponies and kids by putting their hands up to the ponies' mouths to 'show' them how to feed them.
I get you! Your best bet is a church or community center, or a friend who has a day care building etc. We do not have a facility for parties.
Patapsco State Parks YES but they are busy
Montgomery County Parks YES
Frederick County Parks YES
Howard County Parks - YES, some
Baltimore City Parks NO
Gaithersburg Parks NO
Piney Run Park in Carroll County NO
Sykesville Parks YES
Where can I have a Party?
How Should I Prepare?
• Make sure your camera and phones are charged, and have enough room on the memory cards.
• Block off parking, preferably with cones/rope/signs/chairs/trash cans such that our staff can whisk them out of the way when we arrive.
• Have some set-ups in the front yard for your guests: chairs for the elderly, drinks, bowls of snacks.
• Move all trikes, active play toys to the back yard
• You don't have to mow, and definitely do not treat with pesticides or fertilizer before we come. Do not prune yew before we arrive - it is deadly poisonous and ponies can pick up the pruned bits when they graze
• Remove sticks from the front yard. Nothing is more frightening to the owner of a mini horse, than a three year old wielding a stick.
• Have your cash balance at the ready, and some sweets for the ponies (uneaten cake is fine). Also some food for the staff.
• We prefer that there are no drop-offs, especially for Pony Lover's Packages. Those moms usually need a break for a reason...and now that child is what we are dealing with!
• If you are having guests who are horse-knowledgeable, please direct them to our page, or at least let them know that we have our 'own way of doing things' so there are no clashes.
• If you have neighbors with dogs, please advise them that you are having ponies at your party.
• Have your dogs locked up, preferably crated so a guest or child doesn't accidentally spring them.
• Know your guests. Do they have sense? i.e. will they lay their baby down next to the mini horse? Will the dad who doesn't want to be there, be in charge of an impulsive child? Do they have a drinking problem and may try to monopolize our female staff?
• Advise us of any detours or issues with your address as listed on Google maps.
• Assign an English-speaking chaperone to guests (or us) as necessary.
Do you Clean Up after the Ponies?
Our ponies are generally the tidy sort. They will potty at the 1 1/2 or 2 hour mark and prefer to do so in the trailer, so if you have a longer event they will be whisked into the trailer at the first signs of restlessness.
We pack a manure fork and container for removal. In dry summer months we recommend you hose down the spots if they urinate on the lawn, so the nitrogen doesn't burn it.
For the birthday child, ages one through five years are the most suitable. Many two year olds develop transitional fears at some point, so you may want to visit a local petting zoo to assess closer to the party date. Don't wait to long, thinking you want them to remember it - a photo album and frequently shared anecdotes will have even a three year old remembering this party...forever.
Age six is a time of great change. Peers become much more important than fantasy. For this reason we do not do fancy dress-up or unicorn parties where the celebrants are over age five.
Mixed ages are lovely! Even adults will find the mini horse irresistible. There is always an uncle or niece who is or was horse-crazy and will love you forever for having this party. The inverse is also true - same-age party guests can present a challenge. Fifteen four year olds often mean fifteen moms with babes in arms as well.
What is the Best Age for a Party?
Who can Ride?
How much Time should I Book?
We have our party selections already set up for certain optimum numbers of children. All things considered, in a birthday party setting we set a maximum of 15 children for one hour pony ride parties, 20 children for 1 1/2 hour parties, 30 children for two hour parties etc. We can do more children per hour in a daycare setting, where there isn't a lot of picture taking, oohing and ahhing. The rides last about two minutes, and there is time taken in mounting/settling/dismounting/oohing and ahhing.
For multi-service parties like a Pony Lover's Package, we like a maximum of 12 children per 1 1/2 hour party, and 15 children per two hour party. After 15 children I will do a custom quote for you, based on what other entertainment you are offering, the age of the children attending, and the client expectations of your area. We may want to add time, or mini horses, or staff, or an extra riding pony - or just lower complexity of face painting - it is our judgement and a decision made on a case-by-case basis.
How do you get your pricing?
I only have a few children...
A good comparison for pricing horse rentals is to compare prices of rental of a piece of heavy equipment and an operator, which represents a similar level of expertise and capital investment. Imagine asking a man like that to take drive a rig an hour away that probably gets 5mpg like ours does - for 'just an hour' of his weekend, to dig 'just a little hole'.
While his machine sits idle when it isn't being used - we have the endless overhead of pony care, prime acreage to rent, insurance, advertising, emergencies, etc. that continues all calendar year in addition to our vehicle and trailer cost - while we are only booked up three Saturdays a month, seven months a year at the most.
That man with with a Bobcat or backhoe can work most of the year, all seven days of it with the same demand, and under the lights if necessary to make the most of decent weather.
And no one thinks twice if the "Bobcat Guy" has a criminal record, or shows up filthy and reeking of his misdeeds.
Still think we are charging too much? ;-)
What about the Weather?
Children who want a pony party are never going to be deterred by a little drizzle, however, we are happy to offer face painting/balloon twisting in lieu of the pony party in case of inclement weather if staff allows. Satin and storms don't really gel- so our costume choices on rainy days will be more on the durable side. Please see our Policy Page for more details. Good communication is a must.
Who can come to my party?
Our Pony Parties are for small children. Our riding ponies have a weight limit of 65 lbs. All children over toddler age must be able to shift their weight into the middle of the saddle and maintain that position throughout the ride.
Special needs children may or may not be accommodated depending on individual situations.
Please advise in advance of any questions or concerns so that we can accommodate you appropriately
we are not a licensed therapeutic riding service. Our ponies are not trained as therapeutic riding animals.
Ponies are large animals. They are only as safe as the people around them.
They can move quickly at times and there are no physical barriers between the animals and people at this party.
Everyone who will be in proximity to the animals at the party must be:
• intellectually able to follow,
• emotionally willing to follow and
• physically capable of following directions, in English, in a reasonably quick fashion.
• must know right from wrong and accept redirection
Any guest (adult or child) without the ability or willingness to follow directions when told the first time must be accompanied at all times by an adult who will take on the responsibility of anticipating and preventing any unacceptable, reckless, or hazardous behavior, and be capable of physically removing them from the scene without delay, if necessary.
We will leave without a refund if we feel a safe atmosphere cannot be maintained or will not be provided.
This includes, but is not limited to, gunfire, aggressive guard breed dogs, fireworks, drunken and unruly guests, verbal abuse, family fights, and a divisive atmosphere.
Any damages incurred to animals, equipment or staff because of lack of guest supervision will be the obligation of the host, per your contract with The Peppermint Pony.
Know your guests!
Responsible parents will know my intent is one of maintaining a safe and happy atmosphere for everyone at your party, and appreciate our sharp eyes and quick reaction times. We cannot have clients who would rather risk the possibility of a pony untied and perhaps set loose by an unsupervised guest who is incapable of and/or unwilling to follow directions (yes this has happened more than once) .
The decision of the handler is final.
The only restrictions we have on riders is weight, and after that the ability to follow directions and maintain a position in the center of the saddle. Carrying a burden off-center over time will mean a sore back and $$$ chiropractor appointments for the riding ponies.
We have a 65 lb weight limit on the small riding ponies. 150lbs on the larger riding pony (who will not be costumed)
We have a special method of doing rides, where we hold onto the child the entire time they are on the pony, such that even the tiniest baby can take a ride.
We are not a therapeutic riding service, so cannot necessarily accommodate children with conditions that make them prone to rages, uncontrolled movements and noises. Please make us aware and we will approve on a case-by-case basis. Absolutely no abuse of the ponies or handlers is permissible, regardless of intent. Their have final say on all pony welfare decisions.
May we Feed the Ponies?
Do you do Parties for Boys too?
yes, we do! Nothing wrong with adding a pony ride and face paint and balloons to any superhero party. We do Wild Wild West themes, Knights in Shining Armor - and of course Pirates with tatty, cool tack and costumes.