MARLBOROUGH — After facing homelessness for themselves and their nine rescued ponies, Emily and George Aho found a new home for their Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center.
The couple and the organization are moving from their Jaffrey property to a farm in Marlborough.
“The sprawling land the ponies will live on is similar to their native home — not lush, not flat, a rocky varied terrain that they will enjoy exploring, keeping them fit and healthy. It’s pony heaven. It’s pony karma,” Emily Aho said.
Emily Aho and her husband run the nonprofit dedicated to conserving the rare breed of Newfoundland pony, and had been using their Jaffrey property. Last year, the couple prepared to move out of state to a new property that would serve as pony HQ, but that deal fell apart after the Ahos sold their Jaffrey home.
With the help of the Northeast Farm Access nonprofit, the couple is moving to the Monadnock Agriculture Center in Marlborough. Northeast Farm Access works to preserve working farms by rescuing struggling farms and getting people invested in making them work.
The 200-acre property in Marlborough will provide the Ahos’ home and provide barns, a hay field and an indoor area for the Conservancy’s educational programs. Emily Aho said the ponies will be put to work, fulfilling their breed destiny.
“Jobs include hauling firewood and sap to the sugar shack, harrowing and other garden chores, driving and sleighing,” she said.
Newfoundland ponies are a hardy, domesticated breed that evolved in rugged Newfoundland, Canada. The Ahos have been working to save the unique animals for more than a decade, starting the conservancy in Jaffrey and working with officials in Canada, where the breed is critically endangered.
The ponies used to roam Newfoundland by the thousands. The friendly breed was easily tamed by settlers and helped clear the land. The ponies worked alongside people in building Newfoundland.
The ponies fell out of favor as people in Newfoundland replaced the friendly pack animal with ATVs and other vehicles. The pony population was at more than 12,000 in the 1970s, but as more of the traditional jobs ponies performed were being done by machines, local laws discouraged breeding, and thousands of the ponies started to make their way into Canadian meat markets.
Last year, the Conservancy celebrated the second Newfoundland pony born in the United States with the birth of a pony named Sam.