Showing posts with label personality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personality. Show all posts

Friday, May 10, 2024

Mini horses making large impact at Riding To The Top

By Nicole Levine

Riding to the Top, Windham’s local non-profit therapeutic horse riding center, has welcomed two new mini horses, AppleJax and Apollo, to their farm.

AppleJax is a 9-year-old mini horse who joined
Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center
in Windham last fall. He has carriage driving
experience and is expected to become part of
RTT's carriage and unmounted therapy sessions
along with RTT's school-based programs, field
trips, and summer camps. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Riding to the Top (RTT) has been serving the Windham community for 31 years and offers services such as therapeutic riding, therapeutic carriage driving, equine assisted learning, and hippotherapy for individuals ranging in age from 3 to 90-plus. They assist with a wide range of disabilities.

Despite their size, mini horses are classified as horses and not ponies. They have a significantly longer lifespan than larger horse breeds, and can live into their 30s. Because of their size and calm nature, they are known to make fantastic therapy animals, providing individuals with comfort and companionship.

RTT has been home to mini horses for many years, however when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, much of the farm’s normal operation was up in the air.

During this time, a friend and donor of the farm was looking to find some companions for her own horse. The minis that were living at RTT in 2020 were then relocated and integrated into her herd. This became the mini’s new home, and it was later decided that it was in their best interest to stay where they were, and not relocate them back to RTT again.

The organization had continued to work with their generous friend, and began providing mobile field trips during COVID, where they would take the minis on the road.

“This proved to be very popular and we realized that the minis were easier to transport and less intimidating for people of all ages,” said Sarah Bronson, RTT’s executive director. “In 2023, we started looking to have minis at the farm again.”

Currently, RTT has two mini horse residents. AppleJax, who, following an assessment in Western Massachusetts was donated to the farm last fall, and Apollo, who is a new addition just this spring.

Both of the mini horses work with unmounted therapy sessions, and are planned to be an active part of RTT’s school-based programs, field trips, and summer camps.

AppleJax also has carriage driving experience and is planned to join the program for that at RTT in the near future.

Currently age 9, AppleJax has been doing very well on the farm. Bronson describes him as having a curious and adventurous personality.

“AJ's been working on his ‘office skills’ and is pretty comfortable visiting all of our staff in their offices,” she said.

Apollo is 17 years old and is continuing to adjust to his new environment, after arriving only a few weeks ago. He is a “free lease” horse, meaning he has an owner, but resides on the farm where RTT takes care of his needs.

Following protocol, Apollo was in two weeks of quarantine to ensure the safety and health of the rest of the herd on the farm. He's been doing well, and is slowly being introduced and spending more time with his new mini buddy, AppleJax.

Apollo is currently located in the mini paddock also known as RTT’s ambassador area. Although visitors do not have access inside the gated area, people visiting the farm can easily see the minis and can pet them through the fence.

RTT volunteers say that the minis are much less intimidating due to their size, which could serve as a great introduction to equine riding and therapy for those new to horses. Although less intimidating, they still need as much care and leadership to guide them, just as the other horses require, especially in any new circumstances.

The minis, like the rest of the horses, eat hay and grain, but in significantly smaller amounts. Their veterinary and farrier costs are roughly the same as the rest of the ponies and horses, which is estimated to cost around $5,000 per year.

RTT’s minis also require the same grooming and farrier care as the other horses at the farm.

However, due to their size, they require more flexibility from their groomers while picking their hooves and trimming their feet. By utilizing a pedestal, this process is made easier and more comfortable for AppleJax and Apollo. It is still one of the challenges that come along with grooming the minis.

RTT is excited to welcome back mini horses to their farm and programs. They make a wonderful addition to the diverse group of horses at the farm.<

“We believe that the minis will be a great fit to have at RTT again and are looking forward to being able to have them active in all sorts of programming.” explained Bronson. “Training is an ongoing process and involves lots of people handling them, working them in a variety of environments at the farm and then expanding their horizons to off-farm activities.”<

Friday, July 28, 2023

Windham mourns loss of business leader, community champion Bartlett

By Ed Pierce

George H. Bartlett Jr. will be remembered as a kind individual who uplifted his community and a reliable friend who wanted little praise for his volunteer efforts on behalf of others.

Longtime Lakes Region resident and Busy
Bee Laundromat owner George Bartlett Jr.
has died at the age of 84. Through the years
Bartlett has been a fixture at charitable
events locally and was an active member
of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club and the
Sebago Lakes region Chamber of Commerce.
Bartlett, 84, died Friday, July 21 after a short illness. He owned and operated the Busy Bee Laundromat in Windham for 38 years and was heavily involved in the activities of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sebago Lake Rotary Club.

Since the 1990s, he also served as an international ambassador for the Rotary Club, making numerous trips to Romania representing Maine and making treasured friendships with Romanians.

Other than his trips to Romania, Bartlett lived for most of his life in the Windham, Raymond, and Casco areas. His mother, Olive Sawyer Morrill of Westbrook married his father, George H. Bartlett Sr. in the 1930s and the couple moved to the Little Sebago Lake area of Windham where they started a family. George Jr. was born in 1939 and his father owned the Bartlett Radio Company.


While helping at his father’s business after school, young George developed an interest in mechanics, and he went on to become a mechanical engineer and have a business of his own launching Busy Bee Laundromat in 1985.

“My father was in business for many years, and he gave me some great advice,” Bartlett said during an interview in 2020. “He told me that a business goes through ups and downs and the best way to keep a business going is to serve the people,” Bartlett said. “That’s exactly what we do here.”

According to Robin Mullins, the President and CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Bartlett was well-liked by nearly everyone he met.

“One thing was his outgoing personality. He said hi and spoke to everyone he met,” she said. “He also had an infectious smile. You couldn't help but smile with him, even if you were having a bad day.”

Mullins said that Bartlett was a member and huge supporter of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce for years.

“The two things that stand out the most for me were first, he hosted many of the chamber’s After Hour events, or what we call Business Breaks,” she said. “During the Business Breaks we have 50/50 raffles for local charities. George would offer to squeeze himself into a dryer at the laundromat if folks gave extra dollars to the charities. We made lots of extra money for charity because of this. Second, George was a Rotarian who came to me and asked what I thought would be a great local charity to benefit from the Polar Dip, which was part of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club's Annual Ice Fishing Derby. I, of course, recommended the chamber's charitable trust, ‘Feed The Need.’ We started the Sebago Lakes Region Polar Dip for Feed the Need in 2021 and have raised over $22,000 for the 12 food pantries in the Sebago Lakes Region thanks to George.”

Huge loss

His loss will be huge to the chamber, Mullins said.

“George was my partner on the Polar Dip. I relied on him for so many things,” she said. “I have already asked myself, ‘Will I be able to do this without him?’ The answer is yes, but it will not be easy. I have to keep it going because that is what George would have wanted. The 2024 Sebago Lakes Region Polar Dip will be dedicated to my Polar Dip partner and my friend, George Bartlett.”

In years to come, Bartlett will be remembered fondly, Mullins said.

“George will be remembered for three things – his love and dedication for the Sebago Lake Rotary Club. He truly believed in the work of the Rotary and traveled to Romania several times to partner internationally. He will also be remembered for his never-ending supply of energy. George was a worker and he never stopped. I often referred to him as the ‘Energizer Bunny.’ And lastly, George will be remembered for his ability to give you a hard time and do it in a fun, jovial manner.”

Cyndy Bell of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club says Bartlett joined the club in 1985 and has been part of the fabric that has kept the club relevant and a constant in the community ever since.

“He just had a passion for the organization,” Bell said. “One event that brought him a great deal of joy and pride were his trips to Romania. In 1998 as part of a Rotary International project to meet medical needs for Romanian hospitals, the Sebago Lake Rotary Club collaborated with six other Rotary Clubs and began gathering medical equipment, collecting over $750,000 worth of equipment that included 12 refurbished dialysis machines from the Maine Dialysis Center. He traveled back to Romania to coordinate the distribution of the equipment and over the past 20 years he has returned 16 times, working with their schools, bringing books and supplies collected by Rotary clubs in Southern Maine including his local club and helping schools establish Interact Clubs, a high school version of the Rotary Club. While there, he stayed with his adopted Rotary family, making long-distance, long-term friendships.”

Outgoing personality

Bell said Bartlett’s outgoing personality was contagious and he was passionate about anything he was involved in.

“He always showed an interest in you and what you were doing or your business. And he always invited you to a Rotary meeting and encouraged you to join,” she said. “George was involved in everything that the Rotary Club was hosting. He especially was very involved in preparations for the Polar Dip held during the club's signature Ice Fishing Derby fundraiser every February. Even when things weren't going smoothly, he always had a positive attitude and made the event a success. George's presence will be missed in every event the club sponsors moving forward. He always had an ‘idea’ how to make events better.”

Funeral services are pending, and Bartlett is survived by his wife, Jane, three children and other family.

Mullins said she believes Bartlett’s legacy will be one of unselfish service to his community and a responsibility to help his friends and neighbors.

“George did what he did because that was just how he was wired,” she said. “It was who he was, a concerned community leader who wanted to make a difference. And, boy, did he ever.” <