Madison’s Little King Farm to open
for public tours, events
The Eberth family has
operated the farm for 30-plus years
(August 2013) – For more than 30 years, the Little King Farm has worked to establish an international reputation for quality miniature horses. For horse lovers seeking a world-class competitor or a gentle companion, the Madison, Ind., farm was a popular destination.
“Buckeroo” to a
Little King Farm
guest during a Buckeroo-creek
The Madison, Ind.,
area farm is internationally
known for its quality miniature horses.
Until his passing in 2011, the farm’s main stallion, Boones Little Buckeroo, was the face of the breed, easily the most famous miniature horse in the world.
Yet, for Little King Founder Marianne Eberth, the decision to establish the farm and breeding program with her late husband, Ed, was based on more than just her powerful love of horses.
“I wanted my children to learn from nature and not just human and electronic interaction,” she explains. “Horses allow children to get dirty. Horses don’t care what you look like and don’t care if you wear designer clothes. They don’t judge you by your appearance but only by the kindness of your heart.”
Eberth’s daughter, Robin Mingione, who today serves as Little King Sales and Marketing Manager, credits her childhood on the farm caring for the horses with instilling a powerful sense of “responsibility.”
She says, “I feel so lucky and fortunate that my parents gave me that experience.”
Now in addition to sharing its horses with the world, Little King Farm is looking to share some of the benefits of rural life with those who do not have the advantage of growing up in the country. For much of the farm’s history it had been dedicated to breeding and showing. However, changes in the horse industry and Mingione’s personal dedication to education have led Little King Farm to a new chapter. While for many years the farm has been a private facility, new programs are opening the farm’s gates to those seeking an educational retreat or a relaxing day enjoying the nature trails.
Tami Mitz of Washington, Texas, takes part in the Derby Dinner Bell Derby event held at Little King Farm.
With picnic areas and picturesque barns the property provides a lovely backdrop for weddings, birthday parties and workshops. Little King Farm offers a variety of horse-based programs, including Introduction to the Miniature Horse and The Therapy Horse, as well as Youth Nature Walks and Day at the Farm events.
Recognizing that many children and adults today do not have the same opportunities to enjoy and learn from animals the way that she has, Mingione is working to develop the farm’s role as an experiential learning center providing a site for hands-on education. Mingione said she believes that the farm offers educators a powerful learning environment for their students. She explains that a trip to the farm allows students to say, “Not just ‘I’m learning math,’ but ‘I’m learning math by looking at 200 horses and dividing them among the fields.’ ”
She continues, “It opens up their creativity and stimulates them to think on a different level. They can retain something because they actually did it.”
Robin and Steve Mingione pose with “Buckaroo” at
Little King Farm.
She says there are exciting learning opportunities for students from the elementary to the college level available at the farm. The creek and wildlife make biology lessons fascinating to young children, while the property’s caves would give serious geology students an opportunity to study the local formations.
“We are set up where we can do curricular-based field trips,” Mingione said. She invites teachers to contact her about how the farm might add a new dimension to their classroom lessons.
Little King Farm is also making a name for itself as an agri-tourism destination, similar to the way that some area wineries have begun to share behind-the-scenes looks at their own agriculturally based business. The farm provides tours for large groups but is also available for smaller gatherings of people who want to spend an afternoon enjoying the trails or bird watching.
Little King’s 300 acres are home not only to the famous miniature horses, but to a diverse group of wildlife as well. “We don’t hunt here. We do not spray here,” Mingione says emphatically.
This dedication to the health of the land has made the property an idea place to enjoy wild blackberries fresh off the vine or catch sight of a young deer quietly making its way through a field.
Some of the very qualities that initially attracted Eberth to miniatures are the very things that make these horses ideal ambassadors for adults and children who are getting their first exposure to rural life.
“I was originally drawn to miniature horses in the early ’70s because I had grown up with Shetland ponies and wanted my children to experience the responsibility and wonders of owning a horse without some of the dangers involved with small children and large horses. Most non-horse people are drawn to miniature horses as they are approachable and friendly and do not present a threat with their small stature.”
These small, curious horses are able to connect well with people, even those who might be uncomfortable around larger animals, she says.
Mingione said she is happy to be raising her own children at Little King and is hoping to pass on the same lessons that she learned on the farm. She also looks forward to welcoming more area schoolchildren to Little King as they visit on field trips and tours. She says with a smile, “From an educator’s side and a tour guide’s side, there’s nothing better. I get to listen to kids giggle-what better job can you have?”
• To learn more about Little King Farm, visit: www.littlekingfarm.com. For boarding information, tours or to schedule an event, call (812) 866-4006 or email: Robin@littlekingfarm.com
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