Premier Farms in Hersey is a pony lover's dream come true

Premier Farms owner: "I’ve been a horse fanatic since I was young. It’s in my blood."

HERSEY — Premier Farms is the go-to spot in Osceola County for horse lovers or those who want to know more about the pony breeding process.

Started in 1994 by lifelong horse lover Monica Millstead, the farm has bred dozens of ponies to show at competitions or to be adopted. She started with Arabian horses, and then when she took a trip to Wisconsin and visited a miniature horse farm, she was immediately in love. So, Millstead and her husband sold their Arabians and bought a stallion and two mares to start breeding ponies.

"There is a big market for miniature horses. I have sold quite a few. I usually have like two or three babies a year, three tops, and some of them I like to have them go into show homes, and some I like to have to go into pet homes.”

All of Millstead's horses are double registered with the American Shetland Pony Club and the American Miniature Horse Registry, otherwise known as ASPC/AMHR. 

Millstead said the hardest, most nerve-wracking part of the breeding process is foaling, or when they are about to give birth, due to possible complications.

"That is the scariest part to me is that time of year. I hold my breath all through that time," Millstead said.

Millstead said horses are far more intelligent, sensitive, and emotionally in tune with their owners than people typically think.

"If I’m having a crappy day and I’m really sad, I’ll go out to the pasture and I’ll just sit out there, and everybody just comes and just stands there with you, in a way that they can give you comfort," Millstead said.

Millstead even said some of her horses in the past could have been therapy horses with the proper training, given how sensitive they were around her.

"When you’re mad, they know that too. If you go out there and raise your voice, it’s like ‘uh-oh, we’re in trouble,'" Millstead said.

"Some horses are so smart. They watch everything you do, and they’ll go right behind you and undo what you just did," she said.

Horses are "mind-blowing" sometimes, according to Millstead, and they think more than people realize.

Millstead cautions people against breeding ponies without knowing the proper precautions and process to do so safely, pointing to the pervasive problem of dwarfism among horses, especially ponies.

She said she's seen people pay thousands of dollars for a horse with dwarfism, not knowing that the condition will result in the horse's lifespan being drastically reduced.

"I see this all the time and it’s sad. Most people don’t know what they’re doing unless they study the breed, just like anything, even a dog," Millstead explained.

Millstead invites anyone from the public who wants to learn more about the process of breeding horses or potentially get into it themselves, or even just to hang out with her many animals, to come to visit her farm in Hersey, which is at 4275 155th Ave. 

Learn more about Millstead and her farm at Premier Farm's Facebook page, visit facebook.com/pfmhm.