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Furry friends at Fingerpaint Pony Farm

What began as a life-long dream to own a piece of land became a reality called Fingerpaint Pony Farm. In 2003, Bill and Judy Carlson purchased property in Peyton; and, after living in Colorado Springs for 37 years, they moved to the country in 2005.Bill Carlson said the farm in Peyton was ideal for them because it had a lot of trees, and it was protected from the wind.In 2004, the Carlsons bought a horse and two Shetland ponies ñ Sugar and Spice ñ for their grandkids. They didnít stop there. Their love of the Shetlands enticed them to purchase additional ponies from Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. ìTheyíre like potato chips. You canít have just one,î Bill Carlson said.Bill and Judy Carlson traveled through the ìheart of the Midwestî to find the best breeds. He said they were interested in breeding Foundation Shetland ponies, which grow to 42 inches at the withers; and Classic Shetland ponies, which grow to 46 inches at the withers. ìWe bought the best of their best,î Carlson said.They currently own 10 studs and 40 Shetland ponies. ìThat makes us by default probably the largest pony breeder in the state,î he said. In addition to breeding, they raise and sell Shetland ponies.The Carlsons have made trips to Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota to show their ponies one to two times per year. Carlson said Shetland ponies were popular 20 to 25 years ago, but people began to prefer miniature horses. The Shetland ponies are great for children because ponies are closer to the ground than horses, so a fall isnít so far,î he said. ìIf youíre riding, sometimes youíre going to come off; sometimes when you want to and sometimes when you donít,î Carlson said.They often hear misconceptions that Shetland ponies are mean. They disagree. ìShetland ponies are loving, nice and sweet,î Judy Carlson said.Bill Carlson said another advantage of Shetland ponies is their intelligence. ìA pony will figure out real quick who is in charge,î he said. ìThere can only be one person in charge, the rider or the pony.îThey are retired from their 9-to-5 jobs, but that hasnít slowed them down. ìA farm is a never-ending chore,î Bill Carlson said.The Carlsons enjoy living in Peyton because of the nearby conveniences in Falcon, the views of the mountains, the peace and quiet of country living, the wide-open spaces and their neighbors. ìWe like the people out here,î he said.Before retiring to Peyton, Bill Carlson was a consulting engineer in the mining industry. He is a Colorado native, born and raised in Pueblo, but he said he has lived all over the state. Generations of his family have lived in Colorado since the late 1800s. Bill Carlson graduated from the Colorado School of Mines, and his first job was at U.S. Steel. After serving in the U.S. Army and returning from Vietnam, Carlson went to graduate school and worked in the mineral processing industry 40 years.Judy Carlson was born in California and attended high school in New York City. After spending summers in Colorado, she decided to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder and settle in Colorado. Judy was a bookkeeper for 30 years before retirement.This year will mark their 50th wedding anniversary. The couple has five children, 23 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.While working in the mining industry, Bill Carlson traveled to about 70 different countries. ìWhen I went to a country, my only time at the tourist capitol was checking out of the airport, getting in the car and then another plane.î he said. ìThen you go to the mines, and you see parts of the country very few people ever see.îHis mining assignments varied from primitive to posh and everything in between. Carlson said he was sometimes required to travel for long periods of time, but he has fond memories of visiting Machu Picchu in Peru, skipping rocks in the Arctic Ocean in Russia and sipping wine from a variety of wineries on the Ukraine/Hungarian border. But visiting the blood diamond areas in Africa was dangerous, and Carlson said he feared for his life. He said he decided to retire when ìit stopped being fun.îToday, heís having fun with ponies.Carlson said breeding ponies is similar to human genealogy. ìItís kind of like having kids,î he said. ìYou have a general idea (resemblances) from the parents and the grandparents, but sometimes the long lost uncle will turn up.îThe Shetland pony parenting skills are similar to humans, too. ìYou have a gamut of mothers in this herd that would be probably as varied as if you had that many human mothers,î Carlson said. ìItís really amazing ñ from the really good moms to the lackadaisical moms.îBill and Judy Carlson expect to welcome eight more newborn ponies to the farm by the end of July. He said they have witnessed close calls on the road in front of their farm from people driving by and screeching to a halt to see the Shetland ponies. ìWeíve almost had several wrecks from people looking at the babies,î Judy Carlson said.They welcome visitors of all ages at Fingerpaint Pony Farm and have invited schools and scouting groups to see the Shetland ponies.Bill Carlson said the farm was the right choice for them. ìWeíve really enjoyed it,î he said. ìItís been a kick.î

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