Suki Flash did not grow up with horses but that did not stop her from finding ways to ride. She would search for excuses to visit a friend in Nantucket who had horses and later worked 15 hours a week in order to get an hour-long group lesson. “Loving horses is a mutant gene,” she joked. “It’s a serious disease and there’s no known cure.”
In 1979, Flash bought an old dairy farm in Hinesburg and rechristened it as a horse facility called Neverland Farm. “I was quite young at the time and had no intention of growing up,” she said. “I still don’t.”
Neverland Farm provides a variety of services but what Flash enjoys most is teaching. “I love the challenge of it,” she said. “I love helping someone communicate better and get the most out of their horse and have a better relationship with their horse.”
Flash also boards between 15 and 25 horses whose owners come by as often as they can to ride. Often, she is asked to take the horses out when their owners are unable to visit. Flash also does some small scale breeding of Oldenburg horses.
While most people take lessons on their own animals, Flash has two lesson horses for the equine-deprived. Although she started out with camps and other activities for children, she sees her operation as mostly an adult barn. “It’s just evolved into a community of adults, but I also have a couple of phenomenal kids,” she said.
Flash focuses less on beginners than those who have some experience and want to ride better and safer and have more fun. She believes all horses should have some Dressage background as a foundation for whatever else the rider decides to do. Flash helps riders train for competitions because she believes these events allow them to set goals and work towards them, but she makes sure her students learn about grooming and taking care of their horses in addition to riding technique.
Flash is a member of the Green Mountain Hounds fox hunting group. Club members don’t hunt live foxes but rather a scent of anise laid down by a human. “They don’t chase live animals,” Flash said. “It’s a marvelous way to get out and explore new countryside and have a wonderful ride which can be a gallop or more sedate. There’s a lot of camaraderie.”
Flash recognizes that horses have become more and more expensive and she wants to figure out a way to help people have the pleasure of a horse without total ownership. However, for those who can afford it, she does recommend horse ownership, especially for kids. “It’s money well spent,” she said. “The responsibility and delayed gratification for kids is an incredible lifelong lesson.”
Neverland Farm has evolved and Flash is thrilled with her almost four decades of work. “This is a wonderful community of riders,” she said. “Some people do some things, some do another and some a little bit of everything. This is a supportive place which is almost like a sanctuary. People come here and work with their horses and leave feeling better. That’s my goal for this place. It’s almost therapy.”