by Ayleen Gontz | photography by Rachel Borucki
Little horses and little people make a great combo.
If you need to see proof, take a day and head out to the Land of Little Horses Farm Park, five minutes west of Gettysburg off Rt. 30.
Although the Battle of Gettysburg surely touched this 100-acre farm, you won’t find any monuments or history markers here. The focus is truly on the miniature horses that live here with their myriad farm friends.
The Land of Little Horses opened in 1970 as the Gettysburg Miniature Horse Farm when two Merchant Marines returned from Argentina with 25 Falabella miniature horses. Today, descendants of the original horses, Sea-Time and Sea-Dudley, join a herd of 35 miniature horses of various breeds and 100 more farm animals.
“Something unique to us is the access to our minis,” says Maggie Baldwin, co-owner of the farm park since November 2017 with her husband, Bill. “You can feed them, groom them, greet them as they roam the park. . . . This year we’re focusing on the park and the public and finding the right combinations of attractions so we can share what we love about the park with our guests.”
The entrance to the Land of Little Horses is at the back of the parking lot. If you have small children or have an affinity for horses yourself, be prepared. The ticket counter shares space with a gift shop that’s filled with horse-related toys for kids and horse-related everything else for grown-ups. Our best strategy: Buy the horse feed, save the gifts for the end, and make a beeline for the real little horses.
Once you’re inside the farm park, check the time and plan your party’s horse feeding and farm animal petting around the schedule of events. According to co-owners Bill and Maggie Baldwin, who became the park’s fifth owners in 2017, you’ll need about three or four hours to cover the entire park.
Before you start, take a few minutes to show your children how to feed the horses. As the staff will show you, flat, open palms are the key. Place a nugget in your hand and hold it out to the horses. And keep an eye on your young ones: The horses are very gentle and used to small visitors, but fingers can sometimes get in the way of nuggets.
At 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., you can greet the horses in the performance ring of the Main Barn. Then turn your attention to the stalls that line the left and right walls. A number of horses will be outside their stalls, ready to be brushed and petted and, of course, fed.
The Mane Event happens in the climate-controlled arena behind the Main Barn at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Bleacher seating lines the long edges of the performance ring, and snacks and drinks can be enjoyed during the show. Developed for children and engineered to show off the horses’ skills, this 30-minute show has a circus-like feel, with horses jumping, doing tricks and even trying to talk. Sure to wow is Mystic, a fairytale unicorn come to life.
“One of my favorite things is to watch the show from the stands and see the whole crowd gasp when our magical mystical unicorn comes out,” Maggie says. “Seeing the smiles and the excitement on the children’s faces never gets old.”
At 1 p.m., head to Western Town, located in the wooded corner of the farm park, for the family game show, Are You Smarter Than a Horse? Over the years, the staff has discovered that some horses have the ability to work out math problems and answer questions. Sometimes they even stump the guests.
At 2 p.m., an entertaining educational talk and a training display take place in the Main Barn. You’ll learn about the history of the farm park, learn how the horses are cared for, and get an insider’s look at how the horses are trained.
The day finishes with the herd release at 4:30 p.m. Head to the Main Barn, where you’ll learn what the horses do with their evenings off, then watch the horses head out to pasture.
The Land of Little Horses is inspected and licensed by the USDA and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
If You Go
Land of Little Horses, 125 Glenwood Drive, Gettysburg, Pa. • www.landoflittlehorses.com • 717-334-7259
HOURS: Open Memorial Day to Labor Day; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
COST: Adults 12 and older: $15.95; Children 3-11: $12.95; Seniors, active military, and AAA: $12.95; Season pass: $49.95