People who go to law school tend to be bright, ambitious people with big plans. Melanie Pien is one of them. However, her plans took her someplace completely unexpected.
“I found I didn’t like practicing law,” she says. “When I found this pony ride business for sale, I bought it.” Hence derived Pied Piper Pony Rides and Petting Zoos, the premier traveling pony ride and petting zoo organization in the tri-state region. Mel and her family live in a 19th-century farmhouse on the property.
P3, as its friends and employees call it, is not a backyard pony operation. It is a dedicated business in which Mel and her team go to great lengths to find the right staff (both human and otherwise) to provide an enriching and delightful experience. As a result, on a few modest acres in Patterson, reside some of the cutest, cleanest, sweetest, and kindest ponies, bunnies, chickens, ducks, lambs, and pigs you ever saw. Every one has a name. There is a respectable showing of geese and kittens, but they are not part of the traveling show.
Care is taken in the selection and training of the working ponies. These remarkable and adorable creatures will give pony rides on a city street, in a backyard, on a village green, without a bump, without a snort, without a complaint. They work on Halloween carrying kids wearing wings, tulle, Mylar, capes, and crowns, carrying swords and light sabers without a glance. They work on sidewalks with trucks, taxis, and delivery men on bicycles whizzing past. They work in backyards with two story bounce castles inflated. They work on July 4. They’ve been to weddings, nursing homes, churches, synagogues, and on TV. They are marvelous.
“Yes, people often ask for the same ponies year after year. When we had to say goodbye to old Buttercup in December, you wouldn’t believe how many condolences we received,” Pien said.
Every year, there is a new crop of baby lambs so young they will be bottle fed for months. The bunnies (all female, it is to be hoped) are handled from birth, as are the chickens and ducks, so they are tame to the touch and enjoy human contact. The pigs, Lola (pink and white) and Earl (grey – get it?) are favorites. A new pig, Miss Daisy, just joined the family; she is a rescued black Vietnamese Potbelly. Who knew a pig could have so much personality?
“We have a wonderful crew,” says Melanie, “because, no one does this kind of thing unless they love the animals. The animals recognize that. It makes for a good relationship”. Most of the staff return year after year, with some having over 20 years with farm.
Pied Piper also provides animals for living nativities (Mystic, the silver mini-horse is very popular for these). The staff has experience with special needs children and adults, who find spending time in the presence of these calm and trusting animals to be both rewarding and therapeutic.
Pied Piper Pony Rides and Petting Zoo is fully insured, fully licensed, and approved by the USDA to exhibit farm animals. The animals are also available for print work, movies, and television, and have appeared in a music video. The farm is located in Patterson, NY and the office number is 914-763-6925. Check out the website! Sorry, no farm visits allowed.