The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 25, 2005


Foss Farm to have a new state-of-the-art riding ring

It all started with a phone call. The Old North Bridge Pony Club, an educational non-profit dedicated to teaching children how to be safe and responsible in riding and caring for horses, was outgrowing its current space at Foss Farm.

"We have weekly riding lessons for the club, but we have so many active members now that we can't all get together as a group any more," said Lisa Brem of Long Ridge Road, club president. John Dowcett, a home builder from Prospect Street, and parent of club member Sarah Dowcett, responded with a stunning offer: he would donate all the labor and machine time to build a second ring at Foss, in an area already used by the club. "John's offer was incredibly generous," Brem said. "We essentially upgraded the Foss facility with a $40,000 riding ring that only cost us $10,000 for materials." The Pony Club got working quickly on raising the money for the materials and fencing, but is still looking for more donations in order to meet its goal of $10,000. One local couple has already donated $1,000 toward the arena fund.

The new ring at Foss has the dimensions of a large dressage arena — the same size as the Olympic riders use. Dressage, the training of the horse using a series of proscribed movements, is both a sport in itself and a foundation for many other equestrian sports. It is beautiful to watch when performed by a master, and has been likened to both figure skating and ballet. Equestrian competitors travel far and wide to use a large dressage arena and pay a ring fee of up to $25 per hour.

"It is an incredible asset to our community that we have a state-of-the-art riding arena open to the public," said Beth Platt, of Peter Hans Road and vice president of the Pony Club. "It will increase our ability to run events and fundraisers which will in turn bring more money back into the maintenance of Foss, and will enable our members and other Carlisle residents to have the use of a great facility."

Dowcett has continued his generosity to the town and Foss Farm by offering an additional $10,000 in labor and machine time to help clear the new growth forestation that has encroached upon the open space in the last 20 years. "We have a small window of opportunity right now," says Dowcett. "In another 20 years, Foss Farm will be nothing but dense trees. We can't go to sleep on this."

The Conservation Commission has agreed to look over the Pony Club's plan for tree clearing during its next meeting. But more fundraising will be needed in order to restore Foss to its traditional open field appearance. To donate to the Foss Farm maintenance fund make checks payable to: Old North Bridge Pony Club, and send to: Beth Platt, 75 Peter Hans Road, Carlisle, MA 01741. Old North Bridge Pony Club is a national non-profit; all donations are tax-deductible. For more info about pony club: and

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito