Peg Seals got her start riding ponies at birthday parties, and is now one of the top professionals on the East Coast. She owns Freedom Farm in Smithfield, Virginia—a full service boarding and training facility serving the hunter/jumper crowd.

“When I was a little kid, I learned that it was possible to rent birthday party ponies for $8 a day. And then I realized it didn’t have to be my birthday to rent the ponies! So I would save up my $8 and rent a pony for a day. I probably rode the ponies’ legs off,” she laughed.

Her parents saw the love she had for horses, so when Seals was 11, her parents gave her riding lessons as a Christmas gift. She lived in Newport News at the time, and rode with the James River Hunt Club. One of her barn friends had her own pony, so Seals would go with her to visit the pony and watch her friend ride.

“There was a man next door to my friend who had horses and ponies for sale, and I identified one that I thought was really great. The man told me that pony was for sale, and my parents said when I could afford to buy the pony myself, they would let me buy him,” she recalled. “So I saved up money from Christmas and mowed lawns and did whatever I needed to do to buy that pony.”

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Peg Seals: From a $100 Pony to the Hall of Fame