Spending the Afternoon with the Horses at Friesians of Majesty Farm in Townsend, VT

Monday, September 26, 2016
Note:  Since the time this post was written, it has been brought to my attention that the owners of this farm have been the subject of an animal cruelty lawsuit and several horses in poor condition were taken away.  It is not my place to be a judge and jury of people, but I also do not want to ignore what I've researched to be fact.  The how's and why's are not for me to decide.  

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.
-Winston Churchill

Back in the day........before the popularity of Disney princesses and purebred puppies, when asked what they wanted for their birthday, little girls would answer, "a pony".  In recent years, I actually haven't heard any little girl ask her parents for a pony but I'm pretty sure if more little girls (and big ones) were to visit one very special horse farm in Townsend, VT, ponies would regain their popularity at the top of many wish lists.  Wish list or not, I dare any visitor to the Friesians of Majesty to not fall head-over-heels in love with these majestic creatures.
Friesians of Majesty Othello
A few months ago I was checking out a local bus company's tour schedule when I came across a trip to a horse farm in Vermont.  Ironically, that trip is taking place this week.  I decided to go on our own though, and this past week we took a drive to Townsend, VT, to check out the Friesians of Majesty.  A beautiful drive, about an hour past Manchester, on 650 acres in the heart of the Green Mountains, is one of the largest Friesian breeding farms in the U.S.   Home to over 80 friesians, this equine home-sweet-home offers breeding, riding classes, driving lessons, camps, training, horse-drawn limousine services, carriage and sleigh rides.  They also feature equestrian performance!  I wasn't sure exactly what our tour and performance would be like, and will admit I'm not a horse rider or owner, but I do love animals and there's no mistaking that horses are beautiful animals.  What we got during our 2 1/2 hr. visit was so much more than we ever expected.
Home of Friesian Stallion - Othello
In case you're wondering what makes a horse a friesian......according to Wikipedia:  a friesian is a horse breed that originated in the Netherlands.  Friesians are graceful and nimble for their size.  It is said that during the Middle Ages, a friesian's size enabled them to carry knights in armour.  Although they nearly became extinct, friesians are gaining in popularity and are known for use with harness and under saddle and also in the field of dressage.
Robert Labrie owns and operates Friesians of Majesty, along with his wife, Laurie and their staff and interns.  I'm not going to go into great detail about how Robert got to where he is today because hopefully you'll visit one day and hear the story straight from the horse's mouth (no pun intended), but I will tell you that Robert acquired his stallion, Othello, in Holland about 9 years ago. Othello was labeled as a reject of sorts at the time due to a low sperm count and was scheduled to be castrated.  Robert had an idea that he could remedy the situation and purchased Othello and flew him back to the US where Othello became the first in Robert's long line of beautiful friesians who now call Friesians of Majesty home.
Friesians of Majesty
It turned out that Othello was no reject.  In fact, Othello now happens to be the top friesian stallion in the world, holding more distinctions and awards than any other friesian stallion.  Othello stands 17 hands tall and is quite possibly the most majestic creature I've ever seen.  He comes from a long line of champions.
Award Winning Stallion Othello
Friesians of Majesty
Robert Labrie - explaining Othello's 'conformation'.
Award winning Othello
Friesians of Majesty
Award Winning Othello of Friesians of Majesty
Friesians of Majesty in Townsend VT
Award Winning Friesian Stallion
Robert's other champion breeding stallion, Mathijs 
Mathijs, award winning friesian
Mathijs getting his usual neck scratch from Robert.  "Ooooh, that feels good."
One of the mares in the maternity barn.
Robert demonstrates how tame the foals are due to his patent-pending 'imprinting' process.  He was able to walk the colt, without a harness, up and down the stable corridor without it running away and without the mama calling out or coming out of the stall.    Friesians of Majesty also happens to be the home of the #1 rated mare in the U.S.
Robert demonstrating carriage (prom) driving.

During the performance part of the tour, we got to see a 3-4 week old foal demonstrating just how graceful and skillful these friesians are in the ring. 

Friesians of Majesty
Friesians of Majesty in Townsend VT
 The tour and performance would have been worth the ticket price ($25.00 per person), but what really made the experience complete was Robert's storytelling.  From Robert's history with horses, to his acquisition of Othello, to his explanation of embryo transfers, visitors to the farm leave with a very full understanding of this beautiful breed of horse and a strong respect and admiration for Robert's passion for producing friesians and sharing that enthusiasm and love for these fine creatures.

While it is understandable and not surprising that Robert takes pride in his award-winning friesians, there is no denying that his business is led by his love of his animals, first and foremost, followed by his pride in them.  That was obvious throughout our visit and was reinforced in Robert's closing comments when he explained that he cannot take credit for the success he has seen in this, his second career.  Robert credits his grandfather who taught him to drive a sled as a 6 yr. old kid, as well as the previous owner of the farm, his guardian angel and the Good Lord above.  Robert is a kind-hearted, genuine and sincere man who has not let his success and notoriety cloud his identity nor his ability to keep perspective.  He is an example of what happens when you are able to follow your heart and pursue a career in something you love, all the while demonstrating that pride does not have to replace humility.

Friesians of Majesty
Wall of Fame
Friesians of Majesty
Maternity Barn
I could write for days about things we learned and saw during our visit, but that would spoil it for everyone who might visit Friesians of Majesty.  Robert and Laurie offer tours over 60 times per year from May through October.  You can find dates for remaining shows this season on their website under 'Visit Us/Performances'.  Link to their website is: http://friesiansofmajesty.com/   Although this is a beautiful, easy drive I will warn you that cell service is sparse once you move out of the Manchester area.  I'd recommend you GPS your route and write it down for back-up.  I'd also recommend a terrific video I found on You Tube of a VT tv program featuring Robert and Friesians of Majesty.  This video includes Robert telling the story of how he came to this career and shows performances by his stallions and also a great demonstration of his embryo transfers.  The link to that video is:
You will notice there are several videos on You Tube featuring Othello and other stallions from Friesians of Majesty.  They certainly don't take the place of visiting for yourself, but they are beautiful to watch and will definitely help you see why people fall in love with friesians!
Follow their Facebook page for more information and events: https://www.facebook.com/The-Official-Friesians-of-Majesty-Page-
Thank you Robert and Laurie for sharing your equine heaven with us!  
If you're looking for a great place to eat on your way home....we recommend the The Publyk House in Bennington.  The food was wonderful and the atmosphere divine.  We ate on the deck and this was our view:
Bennington VT

And......if you happen to like liver, bacon and onions........I can attest that theirs was maybe the best I've ever had!   Melt in your mouth delicious!  John had their turkey dinner and that too was delicious that night and the next day for lunch!  The salad bar could have been a delicious meal all by itself!! Check it out!
Thanks for reading!  Please share and come back soon to Life As I See It!!!

Fish Creek on Saratoga Lake - Where There's More to See than Rowing Regattas

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I haven't been to the Florida Everglades since I was 10 when my grandparents took me on a road trip to Florida. That was a long time ago, I won't admit how long, but suffice to say my recollection of it isn't all that vivid.  We may not have the Florida Everglades, but we do have Fish Creek and while it may not contain a two million acre wetland ecosystem, it sure provides an abundance of natural, mostly untouched beauty.
Life As I See It Photography.net
Fish Creek played an important role in this area's history.  In 1702 Johannes Schuyler settled on the lands along Fish Creek near what later became Schuylerville.  Schuyler established farms and erected mills and other buildings as early as 1709. Together Schuyler and farmers who bought or leased the land established the town's first major settlement, Fort Saratoga.
Cruising on the Adirondack Cruise & Charter
Fish Creek is the primary outlet of Saratoga Lake, flowing east for about 13 miles eventually emptying into the Hudson River in Schuylerville.  Natives of the area know that fish creek is a popular spot for rowers.  That's nothing new. In fact, in July of 1874 the Rowing Association of American Colleges hosted the University Race for Championship at Saratoga.  Columbia won and it was described as the most exciting race ever witnessed.  Competitions continued for several years. The tradition was revived in 1986 with the first Head of the Fish Regatta.  By 2010 this regatta had grown to be the second largest regatta in the country. (Wikipedia)
Life as I See It Photography aboard the Adirondack Cruise & Charter
Not much has changed.  This year's Head of the Fish Regatta will be held the last weekend in October.  Several other regattas are also held on the creek.  Aside from the rowers, visitors to the creek will be in good company - of paddle boarders, kayakers, fishermen and boaters. You might even see paddle board yoga happening among the lily pads. Everyone who takes part in any kind of water sport on the creek knows its beauty and compared to the busy traffic on the lake, the creek offers a more serene commune with nature.
Life As I See It Photography.net

Fish Creek on Saratoga Lake
One of my favorite venues on the creek is the ever popular Harvest & Hearth, home of the delicious wood-fired artisan pizza made from fresh, organic ingredients.  Located next to the popular Kayak Shak, Harvest and Hearth offers pizza with a view and located just next to Stafford's Bridge, both businesses draw large crowds all season long.  For more information about Harvest & Hearth, you can read my earlier blog post: Harvest & Hearth - Pizza with a View  You can't beat it for delicious, fast healthy pizza!  Yes....I said healthy.
If you're not a kayaker, a paddleboarder, or a boater and still want to see the creek, the best way to do so is aboard an Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co. cruise.  Captain Hal has added some cruises up Fish Creek to his Fall Schedule.  Adirondack Cruise & Charter will be running a 90-minute Fish Creek Foliage Cruise.  There will be a brief stop along the cruise at Harvest & Hearth where you can have your growler filled with your favorite fall beverage.  You'll get to enjoy the trip up the creek as you meander around the bends with assorted wildlife and beautiful foliage along the way.  This cruise sails on Thursday and Friday at 4:30pm, as well as Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 and 4:30pm beginning on September 15th and running through late October.  Tickets for this cruise are $20 per person and can be purchased on their website: http://www.adkcruise.com/
Coffee Cruise aboard the Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co.

Life As I See It Photography, the blog

Captain Hal will also be running a very special 2-hour Fish Creek Harvest & Hearth Dinner Cruise. The perfect ending to your Saturday, this cruise departs at 6:30pm and stops at Harvest & Hearth to pick up wood-fired pizzas.  Menus will be provided and meals are ordered prior to departure. Dates & ticket prices for this cruise are to be determined.

Saratoga Lake's outlet - Fish Creek
If you're a regular Life As I See It blog reader, you're probably already familiar with the Wake on the Lake Coffee Cruise.  If not, you can check it out:  Wake on the Lake Coffee Cruise. This one hour cruise (as well as the ever popular Sunset Cruise) also sometimes cruises up Fish Creek.  Fish Creek offers a calm alternative when the lake gets too choppy.  Naturally placid and beautifully reflective, as beautiful as Saratoga Lake is, it's hard to not fall in love with the serene natural beauty of the creek.
Morning Reflections

Fish Creek, Saratoga Springs NY

Adirondack Cruise & Charter

Morning Fog on Fish Creek

Great Blue Heron on Fish Creek

Great Blue Heron on Fish Creek

Fish Creek on Saratoga Lake
Fish Creek

Fish Creek on Saratoga Lake
We may not have the everglades, but we are lucky enough to have the beautiful Fish Creek.  If you haven't already been fortunate enough to experience this picturesque and serene area, consider checking it out aboard one of Captain Hal's cruises.  Watch history repeat itself as Captain Hal brings back the glory days of Saratoga Lake's history when the lake boasted beautiful vessels like the Steamboat Alice and the Lady of the Lake.  Public cruises on Saratoga Lake are long overdue and finally available.  Don't miss out on this great way to see one of the areas most beautiful resources. To read some fascinating historical facts about Saratoga Lake and surrounding areas, check out this website: Saratoga Lake Through the Years
To check out other cruise opportunities with Adirondack Cruise & Charter Company:   http://www.adkcruise.com/
To learn more about Harvest & Hearth:
To explore the creek by kayak or paddle board, check out the Kayak Shak at:

Thanks for reading!  Come back soon to Life As I See It!!!

Telling Time through the Seasons of our Lives

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
How do you tell time?   Do you wear a watch? Not me, never been part of my wardrobe.  Do you use your cell phone as a clock?  Maybe your car clock, your cable box, your microwave?  What about keeping time beyond minutes?  How do you keep track of that time?

Today marked the beginning of the school year for kids in our town.  It marked the beginning of another academic year - or perhaps the first year - of the academic life for kids.  New backpacks, new sneakers, a long list of school supplies purchased, new teachers, new friends, and another year of learning new and often challenging things.  Often in life, time is marked by "experiences" and milestones, not by clocks.  When babies are born, their lives are first remembered and recorded as milestones - first full night's sleep, first smile, first tooth, first step.   As they grow older, we measure their age, not by hours and minutes, but by huge changes in the knowledge they gain from day to day, in the rapid ways they seem to mature, their independence, the surprising ways they express themselves.
Telling Time through the Seasons of our Lives

Once in grade school, although able to "read" a clock, we tell time by the significant events in our lives - new friends we make, holidays, school events, and of course the passing of one school year followed by summer vacation and and the start of another school year.  Later junior and senior high are times of socialization, new and recycled friends, first love, homework and increasing independence.  These are magical times, and typically times of fun and lack of worry, just true living for every new experience teen years offer. There is no worry about time, except perhaps impatience for the passing of it for the purpose of getting to the next big privilege - later curfews, driving licenses, dates, etc...
In college, time is counted in semesters.  It's funny and sometimes unbelievable how from that initial teary eyed moment your child leaves for college until they graduate four years later suddenly seems to pass in an instant.  Where did those four years go?  Wasn't it just yesterday we were  packing up the car - without a nook or cranny to spare - and decorating that first dorm room?  How can this be graduation already?    How did it happen?

Then life really begins to make time pass quickly.  New jobs, careers hopefully, new lives in apartments of our own, serious relationships, marriages, children..............and now that circle of life, the clock of life begins again.  As parents we begin to tell time all over - with those early milestones.  But as we tell time by the milestones of our children, we continue on our own journey with careers and responsibilities.   Perhaps we begin to mark life moments by the passing of our elderly grandparents, or even our parents.  And while we are witnessing life in the fresh and exciting moments of our children, we are also being reminded that moments are precious and they are also temporary.  The moments we once took for granted are fleeting and pass more quickly with each passing year.  Before we know it, we are middle aged and maybe retired.  The biggest bulk of our time, our minutes are behind us.  We might realize that although we have photos and memories of "the good times", many of those minutes, hours, days, even years, are but a blur in our memory bank.  We can't quite remember it, we can't get it back, all we can do is look forward.  Time has passed so quickly and regardless of our age and wisdom, we have not mastered controlling it from speeding along with us in tow.

No matter how you tell time, or what season of life you are in, you have probably experienced the phenomenon of time rushing past you.  You have probably looked in the mirror and wondered where your youth went.  You have probably, at least once, wished you'd savored some moment, some experience, some person more.  I know I have.  But time is unforgiving like that....we can't go back.  We can't stop or turn back the clock.  All we can do is embrace today and look forward.  In fact.....today is all we really have for sure.  Today is the only time that really counts.  Today is the "TIME" that really matters.  No matter what season of life you are in........savor it.   Embrace it, love it, appreciate it and don't waste any of this season's moments regretting the past or worrying about the future.  This is YOUR time - today, this minute!  You don't need a clock, you only need the good sense to look around you, love the people in your life and make the most of your life - no matter the season!  Don't cry because your baby left for kindergarten today!  Savor this new and exciting milestone in his or her life.  Today is an exciting day for your child.  Kids understand, they don't weep over their new growth, they embrace it.  Each phase of life - yours or your baby's - is exciting and something to be savored.  Life is full of changes, that's what makes it interesting.  Embrace those changes!!  Enjoy them, celebrate them and above all.....remember them.

Share this post with someone you know who might be experiencing a special season in their lives.  Whether it be the season of a new birth, a child going off to college or perhaps someone experiencing those trying times in the autumn of their lives.  No matter your circumstances, embrace the season! Time Marches On
Salem NY Clock Tower
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