A typical Thursday for Brandy Lipsey, our Horse Trainer at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, begins at 5:30 am and may last as many as 12 hours. It’s “prep” day for the Mini Horses, when Whinnie the Pooh, Sweet Jane and Molly get bathed, clipped, exercised and trained in preparation for their weekend shifts as the stars of our Mini Moments tasting experience. “If you have to work, you can’t do much better than this,” says Brandy. “I get to play with little horses all day.”
Brandy has played with horses since she was 16 years old, when she worked two jobs and saved enough money to buy a horse, and then mucked 26 stalls every day to pay for its board. Her first experience with a therapy animal was her 210-pound English Mastiff, Magnum, whom she trained to work at an adult day care facility.
Brandy began working with Jamieson Ranch Vineyards in 2013 when she learned about Founder Bill Leigon’s interest in therapy animals. She and her husband had recently sold the muffler and tire shop business they’d run for years and Brandy was casting about for something to occupy her time. She already owned Whinnie the Pooh, having rescued him when he was just eight years old (he’s now 29). It wasn’t long until she rescued two additional mini horses – Sweet Jane and Molly – and began an outreach program to schools, hospitals and clinics under a program started by Bill Leigon. The Mini Moments tasting experience is an extension of that program.
Brandy is not surprised that the mini horses who provide such comfort and pleasure to children with autism and adults with dementia are so fascinating to guests at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. “Horses are very peaceful animals,” she says. “They soothe your soul.”
Whinne the Pooh
Horse trainer Brandy Lipsey says Whinne the Pooh is actually more like Eeyore than his namesake – a bit of a grouch who is nonetheless sweet, kind and gentle. “You can just hear Eeyore’s voice when you ask Winnie to do something; he’s like ‘whatever.’ But he does it.”
Sweet Jane is a boss mare; if she were in the wild, she’d control the herd. “She’s the alpha, which made her more challenging to train,” says Brandy Lipsey. It took a year and a half, but now Sweet Jane is as docile as a lamb. “She’s pretty bonded to me, but she’s still her own gal.”
Molly is a little skittish – her nickname is “sissy girl” – but she scored Level 5 on the Pet Partners therapy animal examination, which is the highest score an animal can get. She’s also got a curious streak, and has been known to pull things out of women’s purses when they’re not looking.
Our family-friendly experience offers guests the opportunity to enjoy our award winning wines while interacting with our delightful miniature horses Whinnie the Pooh, Sweet Jane and Molly.