Home on the Range: Craig and Julie Waldron
When Heather Waldron told her parents she wanted a pony, like so many little girls do, she meant it. There has been no scoffing at the hours and hours of care required, no shunning her responsibilities; she has thrown herself into it, and has a roomful of ribbons to prove it.
“She started riding when she was 6,” her mom Julie says. “Ever since she could talk, it was horses.”
“It wasn’t a fad,” adds dad Craig. “This was serious.”
The Waldrons — mom and dad and their girls, Heather, 16, and Allyson, 9 — live in Burt Lake, on a parcel of acreage that had been in Craig’s family since the 1940s. It’s as picturesque as it is peaceful, a hideaway deep in the forest that opens up to pastures, pristine white fences, a barn that’s beautiful as a house and breathtaking homes, all built by the family’s construction company, Far Hills Construction, dating back to 1967.
Also on the acreage is Far Hills Maple Syrup, started by Craig’s dad and uncles back in 1976. Today, it’s the largest maple syrup maker in the state, with 18,000 taps producing 8,000 gallons a season.
The family of four lives in a 4,200-square-foot stunner at the end of the long drive; Craig’s mom Corky lives about 400 feet away, and in between is the charming barn that houses their three horses and four others that are boarded here.
During construction of the house and clearing of the property a few years back, Craig backfilled in a sloping part of the yard for a riding ring, where Heather practices her jumping on Jelli, an 8-year-old Swedish warm blood.
One of the most distinctive aspects of the home’s construction is that about 150 feet away from that ring, the girls’ parents can watch them from the kitchen window and dining room, through a bank of windows.
Ally, whose pony Arrow is 12, is learning the ropes as an equestrienne, too, and she also takes on the responsibilities of grooming, cleaning, feeding and exercising her charge. Heather is on the Petoskey High School equestrian team, learning the finer points of dressage and jumping as she goes into her senior year next fall.
Fortunately for her, access to all the practice she wants or needs is as near as her own front door. “Their friends board horses here and we always have all the kids over,” Julie adds. “It’s nice to always know where they are.”
Trainer to visit Far Hills Farms
Greg Best, silver medalist in both the individual and team events at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, will visit the Waldrons’ riding arena this summer and offer training opportunities.
Best, now the New Zealand Olympic coach, will visit July 31-Aug. 2. He teaches beginning to advanced hunter, jumper and equitation skills.
A limited number of slots will be available for lessons, while anyone may attend to observe. For more information or to register for the clinic, call the Waldrons at (231) 548-7471.