Mountain Moon Farm’s grand opening at Country Cedar Farm
By Madison Hakey | The Charlotte News
On June 1, Annie Fitzgerald, trainer at Country Cedar Farm, will launch her new business, Mountain Moon Farm. Fitzgerald’s new business will operate out of Country Cedar, and will offer an array of services including riding lessons, boarding, horse training and summer camps.
Before coming to UVM, Fitzgerald lived and trained in Medfield, MA. Starting out at just seven years old, she continues to take lessons with the same trainer when she goes home. “She was the inspiration for me doing this myself.” It wasn’t until middle school that Fitzgerald started to get serious about horses. She started showing and giving ground lessons at 12 years old, and giving riding lessons at 18.
Fitzgerald gained a new perspective when she came to Charlotte. “I was surprised to see how many horse farms there were, specifically in Charlotte,” she says. This amount was intimidating when she first scoped out the competition. “Who am I to say I can do this better than any of these people?” she said.
Fitzgerald soon realized that she would have to work hard and hope that people would come to her. “Keep your head down, work hard, and people are going to respect you and come to you.” In addition, she learned how to brush things off. “Try not to take anything too personally,” she says, “it’s not usually about you.”
This can be extremely hard in a business where relationships are often very personal. “It’s a very deep passion for a lot of people and when you share that, it bonds you,” she says. Throughout her life, Fitzgerald’s closest friends have been made through an interest in horses. There is a reason people call the community at the farm a “barn family.”
In the end, everyone is there for the horses and wants what is best for them. “It can tend to get a little bit out of sight when things get a little messy, but when it comes down to it,” she says, “the grounding factor is that we are all here for the horses.”
The horses, of course, are Fitzgerald’s favorite part, but it’s the “problem” horses that are her passion. Just recently, Fitzgerald started training Summer, a rescue pony who is nervous and untrusting. In the past two months, the improvement has been dramatic. “Seeing your hard work pay off in the life of another animal is really amazing and very unique to this business,” she says.
Another unique part of the business is the intense emotional stress. “Ups and downs are inherent in everyday life, but in this business, they can be high highs and low lows,” Fitzgerald says. However, she wouldn’t give up any part of it. “Every little bit along the way, I can trace to something that seemed bad at one point, but that moment was necessary in order to bring me to the next important thing.” Everything has a silver lining, and Fitzgerald chooses to see it.
She doesn’t need to look too far to see the positive aspects of where she stands now. It may be more challenging to build a business in a small town and the financial implications of sustaining her work may be trickier in Charlotte than in Medfield, but the town’s beauty energizes Fitzgerald. The peace and serenity that she and others have found on the farm is unmatched anywhere else. “It’s beautiful!” she says. “There’s amazing scenery, there’s a ton of space, it’s quiet and the quality of even the grass is better for the horses.”