It is every riding instructor's purpose to instill
an appreciation for, and understanding of the horse, physically and psychologically.
A knowledge of form, function and progressive development of the horse's
natural ability to perform to its utmost capability is the aim of the
informed horseman. All aspects of the animal's growth need fostering.
To this end, Manitou Farm's methods of training and care follow as closely
as possible the natural inclinations of horse and rider. This includes
herd (team) cooperation, playfulness (games), competition (shows) and
travel (trail rides). Close cooperation between man and animal leads to
trust, friendship and healthy dependency. This union, once realized, is
of the highest of attainments and can carry over to productive relationships
in a child's future life.
established at South Mountain Pass in Garrison, NY, in 1948, by Nora
Caroe . In 1955, Leona Dushin moved to the area and continued teaching
horsemanship to children, adults and sometimes handicapped riders. Her
operation, called The Horse and Pony Club was sponsored for a number
of years by the Garrison School PTO. As the operations of Manitou Farm
expanded, it became a branch of the US Pony Clubs, Inc. In 1978, it
became apparent that the handicapped and emotionally challenged benefit
enormously from the contact with equines. That year the Foundation for
Therapeutic Riding was established, which Included recreational therapy,
hippology, equine facilitated mental health and the inclusion of "at
risk" persons. The work with handicapped riders brought benefit to children
and adults who took regular lessons with Leona as they were presented
a chance to volunteer help and understanding to people with disabilities.
In 1961, Leona
Dushin was involved in organizing the Taconic Trail Riding Association,
combining different riding clubs in the area. Its development spurred
from the enthusiasm for recreational riding of the parents who were
involved in organizing and running the Garrison Horse Show from 1960
till 1966. At that time a number of established riders and trainers
visited the club, such as George Morris, Victor Hugo-Vidal, Lenden Gray,
"Uncle Joe" Joe Vanorio, Karen MacIntosh.
group, with the cooperation of others throughout the state, led to the
formation of the Empire State Horse Council (now the NYS Horse Council).
A Trail of Two Cities, an organized ride from Van Cortland Park in the
Bronx ,NY, to Albany airport, evolved, to spotlight the fact that NY
State had closed all its horse trails In 1948. This, in turn, led to
the formation of the Greenway, an attempt to establish a continuous
non- motorized trail on both sides of the Hudson River. It has always
been an uphill battle to obtain access to public lands for riders. Leona
Dushin and her supporters continue to battle prejudice against horses.
Presently, she is working on mapping of available riding trails in Putnam
County. Most of the horses used for activities are bred and raised on
the farm. They are dominantly of the Morgan breed with chestnut coloration.
The uniformity in size and color suggested the establishment of the
Red Horse Troop Drill Team, composed of adult riders and parents who
wish to participate. The Drill Team was established in 1982, and since
then has taken part in community events and commemorative parades around
the area. Since 1976 Leona Dushin has also been offering gymnastics
on horseback called vaulting, which builds confidence, balance, flexibility
was chosen to represent the Morgan Horse as a Dressage Horse in the
1983 Year of the Morgan celebration at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington
KY. Becky Thatcher an a pony clubber rode the farm's Harmony Blues and
Mrs.Dushin rode Manitou Parader in the Pas De Deux. Mrs. Dushin also
rode her Morgan sidesaddle in this. Muscoot Farm, the Westchester County
Model Farm, invited the Pony Club to put on a horse exposition in 1985.
The New York state Morgan Horse Club invited the vaulting group to perform
in 1998 at Muscoot, where Leona Dushin also demonstrated Unicorn riding
(driving a horse from a ridden horse) and team driving (driving two
horses from a ridden horse) in dressage movements. In 1966 the Club
organized a weekend of horse transportation at Garrison's Landing, instigated
by Russell Wright. A parade of American breeds dressed in 19 century
costumes, a museum of carriages, a horse drawn hay ride, ginger horse
cookies, lemonade, pony rides and pony cart rides were featured.
Art Center, recognizing Dressage as an art form, requested a demonstration
of the Drill Team and of Leona Dushin's third level dressage horse "Man
in the Moon". The New York State Horse Council in 2001, commanded a
performance of the Red Horse Troupe Drill Team at their annual meeting
in Brewster. The Lewisboro Horsemen's Association and the Honey Hollow
Pony Club have been hosts to vaulting demonstrations and lessons. The
Farm has participated in the Founder's Day Parade in Cold Spring, as
well as 4th of July parades in Peekskill and in West Point, where they
also performed Drill Team for many years. The Troupe has also performed
at "half times" at many Silver Spur Horse Shows and Peekskill Rotary
Club Shows. The club has participated in vaulting and clinic demonstrations
throughout the region.
Leona Dushin was born Leona
Margaret Christina Hauff. She came from a family of well reputed horsemen.
Both her grandfather and her father where known in horse circles around
Long Island. Leona had her first pony when she was 5 and a thoroughbred
jumping horse at the age of thirteen. In high school she was a member
of the June Taylor Dancers. During the war she helped train race horses
from Long Island tracks. She started teaching riding at the age of 16
as president of the Queens College Riding Club. At the age of 19 she joined
Ringling Brothers Circus where she rode in a menage (quadrille with eight
horses) trained by Captain William Heyer. She studied with Dr. H.L.M.
Van Schaick for four winters. She also completed three Pony Club instructor
courses including one at Teala-Wooket Camp with "Cappy" Marsman. Heyer,
Van Schaick and Marsman, coincidently, were on the same Netherlands Grand
Prix team at the 1936 Olympics.
| She was a
New York City teacher of Middle School Science for seven years and a Bilingual
Educational Evaluator for six years before retirement. She has been selectively
breeding Morgan Horses for 44 years for disposition, gait and uniformity
of size and color. These horses have proven to be outstanding for teaching
children. Leona Dushin recived a BA in Art and Education from Queens College,
an MA in Science from City College and an MA in Special Education also from
City College. She has a bilingual ancillary license to teach Spanish. She
is currently working on a degree as Certified Social Worker and a PHD in
Animal Behavior. Leona Dushin has five kids and two grandchildren.
Dushin was a District Commissioner of the Garrison Pony Club for 40 years.
She served on the National Comities of Games and Camping. She is the member
of the North American Riding for the Handicap association and is a Special
Olympics equine coach. The Foundation is also a member of an equine facilitated
Mental Health Association.
Manitou Farm / located in historic Garrison NY South Mountain Pass / across
from 123 Deli / 845 737 75 56 /