BY SISSY WICKES
The name Ponies & Palms brings a smile to all who invoke the image of warm weather and beautiful ponies. Further illustrate the picture with smiling young riders, encouraging trainers, and multi-colored horse show ribbons and the picture of the Butzer Family’s business is complete.
Located in lovely Boca Raton, Florida, Ponies & Palms offers a home based lesson program, a successful horse show program, horses and ponies for sale and lease, and a group of stunning home bred ponies. Leslie Butzer, mother of six and founder of Ponies & Palms, is dedicated to quality in all of her equestrian pursuits. From breeding accomplished pony mares and proven stallions to establishing a prolific training and sales program, Leslie strives to provide the best in horses and ponies, training, and care for Ponies & Palms clients.
Established in 2006 as Boca’s Welsh Ponies and Palms, the business was emblematic of Leslie’s love for the Welsh pony breed. She explains, “The Welsh breed is ideal for the growing child. Their beauty and intelligence are unsurpassed and have impressed me since I was a young girl. My goal was to produce the best hunter ponies in the country. “ Butzer purchased a high quality stallion in Bristol Houdini and imported several broodmares from Wales. The mares not only competed successfully, but produced wonderful foals. After the prodigious launch of her breeding program, Leslie transitioned the farm into Ponies & Palms. “After many foals, it became apparent that we could make any child’s dreams come true. It was a natural progression to become Ponies & Palms Show Stable.”
Leslie fills the role of supportive parent, but also instills the importance of placing the animal above all else in her children. She believes that competing should be fun, constructive, and inspirational. “At Ponies & Palms, our philosophy is to educate and give children a healthy, safe environment to interact with these beautiful ponies.”
Daughter Lisa, 24, and young twins Logan and Lena, 8, are noteworthy riders on the premier circuit throughout the east coast. Lisa began in the hunter ring and now competes in the Medium Amateur Owner Jumpers with the intention of moving up into the national Grand Prix level. Logan and Lena are well known at the shows, not only for their lovely ponies, but for their constant smiles and good sportsmanship. The twins can be found in the pony ring, often jumping around with their trademark sunglasses and wide grins, well mounted on proven show pony veterans.
In 2018, Logan, then seven years old, competed in the USEF Pony Finals in the Medium Pony Hunters on Don Stewart’s Play It Cool, a pony that he had only ridden a few times. Catch riding at Pony Finals as a seven year old is just short of herculean and Logan produced a commendably smooth round to the delight of the crowd. His sister, Lena, is also an accomplished pony rider with numerous Championships and top ribbons in Pony Hunter classes from Florida to Vermont. The twins are always well mounted on lovely veterans of the pony ring. Names such as Spellbound, Rico Suave, Boca’s Blue Nile. Rockette, Spice It Up, Boca’s Toy Soldier, Woodland’s Talulah, and Boca’s Tommy Terrific are part of the Ponies & Palms roster.
As with any family in the horse business, the Butzer children are used to animals coming and going in their barn depending on the activity of sales and leases. Ponies & Palms always has an array of talented horses and ponies for sale and lease at many different price points. Lena and Logan are accustomed to rotating ponies as the population shifts with sales and acquisitions. As sister Lisa explains, “They are used to riding whatever we have at the time. They may have to switch on and off of ponies, but they always have something nice to ride.” She compliments her siblings as “the next rising stars” in the show ring and consistently supports their efforts.
Marielle Golden is an integral part of the Ponies & Palms operation. A beautiful rider who is small enough to ride ponies, Marielle has extensive experience in the hunter, jumper, and equitation rings. Over the last two years, she has developed a lesson program at the Boca Raton facility. With four tried and true lesson animals, she teaches everything from once a week lessoners to more frequent riders. With a covered arena to teach in, excessive heat and rain do not stop Marielle, who never misses a lesson. Golden also offers riding and training services for boarders at Ponies & Palms. Many of these clients attend the Winter Equestrian Festival shows, local Florida shows, and participate in a show circuit that travels north after the winter circuit. Patient, professional, and well educated, Golden is the perfect trainer from the first ride to the show ring.
Leslie Butzer is still passionate about ponies and pony breeding. With “Boca” as a registered breeding prefix, she has produced quality foals for the past six years, including five by the eminently successful pony, Entourage. Entourage is now famous as a performance pony, but was a stallion until a few years ago. Butzer has a beautiful son of Entourage named Boca’s Entourage that she is considering standing as a breeding stallion. In addition, she has numerous homebreds of all ages available for sale. Some will make their debut in the Medium and Large Green Pony Hunters in early 2019.
As small animal veterinarians, Brian Butzer and Lindsay Butzer – husband and daughter of Leslie – have been involved in cloning animals for several years. Working with Viagen, a pioneer in animal cloning, they are very familiar with the process of cloning cats and dogs. Leslie is considering the process for two of her best ponies, Rico Suave and Spellbound. She explains, “The cost of cloning is coming down and I would love to replicate these two ponies. I would keep them as breeding stallions so they can pass on their unique qualities to the next generations.”
From breeding to performance, Ponies and Palms strives for the best. The Butzers believe in quality of pedigree, temperament, and athletic ability. They breed and show quality ponies, offer a robust sales and lease program, and provide a beautiful place to ride and train as a beginner or an accomplished equestrian. Visit poniesandpalms.com or on Facebook for more information.
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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