DressageDaily’s “Boss Mare” Mary Phelps-Hathaway has a new “Boy Toy” and her husband JJ does not mind at all! Phelps-Hathaway purchased “Buddy” an American Shetland pony, carriage and harness this winter in Florida from Johnny Robb, media magnate who has among several accounts the American Shetland Pony Club and the American Miniature Horse Registry. The 12-year-old 10.1 hand pony who reminds Phelps- Hathaway of Ashley Holzer’s Dressage Olympic mount Pop Art in miniature, has had an illustrious career in both pleasure and CDI competition. "Buddy is a super star pony ." said Johnny Robb. "He was in our back pasture waiting to find his person. He and Mary were destined to be together. Now she knows why I collect these little guys. They are awesome."
“I have driven off and on my whole life.” said Mary, who has worked with multiple National Pairs Champion, Larry Poulin. “I actually began my career in media and photography 30 years ago at Pompano Park where I groomed and trained standardbred race horses.” It was at Pompano Park where she met and apprenticed with photographer Cliff Latour who launched her career in photography and reporting. Phelps-Hathway was a member of the Florida Harness writers, serving as president for a year in the 1990's, and has been a long time member of the FEI's International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists.
“Buddy” knows it all, and I am taking lessons every week refreshing and learning new skills. Driving is very much like riding dressage. You use “half halts” and position for collecting. Reinsmanship and technique are important. With Buddy, I know I am safe, and can just focus on technique and having fun.
Fun is an important part of Phelps-Hathaway's plans for the summer of 2008, who has expanded operations 3 years ago purchasing property in Columbia, Kentucky where Phelps-Hathaway Enterprises Inc is currently building a second structure on their 127 acres in south central Kentucky to accommodate their growing business. "This area of Kentucky while very rural has some of the finest high speed fiber optic technology, developed by the state to help rural areas transitioning from tobacco farming. We manage most of the websites and photo business from this location." They also have a home office in Deleon Springs, Florida, where the [#26523 override="Equine Insurance operations" title="Equine Insurance operations"] are managed by long time employee and CSR Tracey Scharf, while Mary and husband JJ travel and are on the scene with friends and clients at over 25 competitions a year. "Having Buddy has helped me to relate to the needs, worries, and details of our clients." Said Phelps-Hathaway who has her pony insured with her company Markel.
"Buddy recently broke out in hives and just as I advise my clients I called in to report his condition to our claims department, even though the problem was a minor one and you do not anticipate filing for a claim." One of the most important requirements in an equine insurance policy is to report any issue with your horse if you are calling a vet for anything other than routine care. No matter how much we emphasize this in bold red writing it is often an issue when an actual claim is reported. It has happened time and again where an issue which was minor develops into something more, and when a vet files a report, we often learn that something may not have been reported at the onset."
Phelps-Hathaway has also used her connections in the industry to barter for services such as shipping. "When we bought Buddy, Jimmy Welsh, of Elite Horse Transport LLC had contacted us regarding promotion for his company. If it had not been for Buddy, we would not have been made aware of his new company which operates out of Richmond Kentucky where Jimmy and his wife also have a farm and rehab operation. We traded shipping from Florida to Kentucky for a listing in our Virtual Vendor section, and Jimmy gladly took care of Buddy on his farm for a couple of days while we arranged for him to be picked up." Now when Jimmy calls to check in, he refers himself as the shipper of the famous pony "Buddy" even though he has shipped some of the biggest and best dressage and jumper horses across the USA.
Plans to compete this year include the Nashoba Carriage Classic in Germantown, Tennessee September 19-21. "We owe it to Buddy to continue his illustrious career because he is so talented. But mainly this is about having a good time. I deal with high level competition in our business all the time." said Phelps-Hathaway who just returned from San Juan Capistrano covering the Dressage Olympic Selection Trials. "I sent Debbie McDonald photos of Buddy yesterday, and she e-mailed back immediately saying she wants to do this someday too, I think I may have started a movement!"
Back home in Kentucky, Mary and he corgi Tasha travel by 4-wheeler through the woods and creeks to the barn where Buddy is boarded at Cameron Hill Farm owned by Kathy Blank. "It's faster through the woods than by the road, and saves on gas!" Blank's daughter Christy Warrington also works for Phelps-Hathaway as the manager of photo operations.
"To be able to transition from the two worlds of life with horses is an amazing blessing to have. My whole life I have wished for a pony when blowing out my birthday candles." said the 57-year-old Phelps.
"I recently lost my best friend, my Mom, and it has been an enlightening experience. On the day she died unexpectedly of a heart attack she found this hat in the church thrift store where she volunteered each Thursday. I saw the hat in her house, and wondered where it came from, when her friend told me she had snagged it for 'Mary and her pony'. After all, one of the most fun things about driving is getting to dress up and wear a nice hat. Thanks Mom!"