As I sit here preparing the first NEECA newsletter of the new year, I find it hard to believe that it IS a new year. 2023 seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. Who is it that said the older you get, the faster the time speeds by? I didn't understand that in my 20's but I sure do now. This growing awareness of how truly fleeting time is brings with it a deep appreciation of "what is", "what has been", and "what could be".

In turn, that got me thinking about NEECA a bit. It seems like only yesterday (but it was1999) that I read a small blurb in the Athol Daily News about a meeting at the Athol Town Hall to discuss plans for an equestrian park in the Town of Athol. Being a life-long horse fanatic, and current owner of two aforementioned critters, my interest was piqued, and I made sure to put that meeting date right in my calendar so I wouldn't miss it. Little did I realize at the time that decision would lead me to a lifelong involvement in something as unique and special as the New England Equestrian Center of Athol.

At that first meeting Elwin Bacon, NEECA's "founding father" for sure, discussed plans for the development of a multi-discipline, municipal equestrian park on approximately 250 acres of land recently purchased on New Sherborn Road in Athol with a grant from the state. At the time, all we had was the property, a vision, and some dedicated people who believed in "what could be". Those initial 20 members or so have now grown to 250; that property that was once raw land now has a 240' x 100' main arena, a warm-up arena, round pen, confidence course, driving area, electricity, a food booth, a new well, and miles of trails; and "what could be" has turned into "what is".

Looking back, I find it difficult to believe it has been nearly 25 years since I attended that first meeting. But once I get over the shock that a quarter of a century has gone by, I am able to appreciate what NEECA is today compared to where we started those many years ago. And more importantly, why.

The why is kind of the key thing here. NEECA is what it is today because of the dedication, talent and determination of a whole bunch of people over a whole lot of years who believed in this dream. While we received a few grants to help with specific projects, most of NEECA's progress and development over the years has been due to the efforts of hundreds of generous people who have donated literally thousands and thousands of hours to turn NEECA into what it is today because they believed in "what could be".

While the NEECA horse park is pretty special in its own right, we need to acknowledge the amazing people that NEECA has brought together in pursuit of this dream. This organization has become much more than a place, it is a community of dedicated, generous, caring horse lovers who are quick to support each other when needed. On a personal note, I just hate to think about all the wonderful people that I wouldn't have in my life if it wasn't for NEECA. More than a few of my horse friends from other areas have commented on how lucky I am to have something like NEECA where I live, referring to both the actual park and our "community". A fact that I am keenly aware of

So as we embark upon yet another trip around the sun, I am grateful for "what is", mindful of "what has been", and eagerly anticipating "what WILL be". I wish the same for all of you in 2024, and the years ahead, in the hopes that the Best Is Still Yet To Come.

Caroline Mansfield

President, NEECA Board of Directors

"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success." Henry Ford



Great learning opportunity from the comfort of your own home. What better way to spend a chilly winter night? All lectures will be on a Tuesday evening in January, start at 7 pm, and there will be a question & answer period at the end of each lecture.

Register to receive a ZOOM link at

Lisa Damon/ Tues. 1/9


Lisa is a Certified Equine Holistic Nutritionist and Aromatherapist.

She is the owner of Damon Farm and has been helping lots of horses/dog/humans feel better by eating right for many years!

She is passionate about helping horse owners feed their animals correctly in order to give them their best quality of life.

Linda LeBlanc/ Tues. 1/16


Linda graduated from the University of Maine, Orono in 1973 with a major in Wildlife Management, and a minor in General Education from the School of Education. She received her master’s degree (Training and Development) from Lesley College, Cambridge, MA in 1993.

Linda will be discussing potentially toxic plants that can be found in our area, some may be in your horse's own pasture!

Wendy Ashe/ Tues. 1/23


Wendy has ridden and owned horses for over 37 years, & been a farm owner for over 20 years.

She is an attorney, has been an insurance agent since 2003 and is an Agricultural & Farming Insurance Specialist, making her uniquely qualified to address all issues concerning equine insurance needs. Wendy will cover liability, farm, and health/mortality topics in her talk.


Just renew your membership by December 31, 2023 and you can designate a fellow horse lover to receive a Free NEECA membership. Just click here to renew today.

At NEECA's last Board meeting of the year the 2024 Board officers were elected. Caroline Mansfield will remain on as president for 2024, Pam DeGregorio is Vice President, Terry Lupien has taken on the role of Secretary, and Sue Ellen Mowcomber continues as Board Treasurer. Other returning Board members for 2024 include: Althea Bramhall, Linda LeBlanc, Kory Laughlin, Terry Lupien, Margo Petracone, and Peter Whitmore.

The Board regretfully accepted Stephanie Tessier's resignation, effective December 1st of this year. Stephanie was Board Secretary for the past number of years, coordinated and helped out at numerous events throughout the years, and was a valued voice during our monthly meetings.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Steph for all she did for NEECA over the years. She will be sorely missed, but we're hoping she will continue to be involved with NEECA in the coming years as much as her busy life will allow!

If you'd like to get to know a little bit more about our Board members, please go to and click on each Board members' individual name.

NEECA Hats Still Available!

Chilly days are ahead. What better way to keep your noggin warm than by sporting a NEECA Winter Hat? The orange hats sold out quickly, but we do have some blue and black ones left. Only $20 each. Contact Caroline at [email protected] if you'd like to order one!

Interested in listing your business? Sign up and payment can conveniently be done online at, follow link from home page.

We now have NEARLY 30 businesses listed in our Online Directory! Looking for a service or horse related item? Go to or click on direct links below!


AB Insurance Group - Farm/Equine Insurance

Awakening Renewal Therapeutic

B & D Mansfield -field and pasture mowing

Wendy Bryant-Equine Dentist

Deja Vu Women's Consignments

EquidDoc Veterinary Service

Equipoise Equine Body Work -

Excalibur Farm - hay

Family Pet Vet - small animal vet

Grandscape Complete Outdoor Services

Kindful Training, Cathy Drumm

Hardwick Farmers Co-op

Hess McWilliams Veterinary Services

Hometown Realtors, Althea Bramhall

It's A Pleasure Training - Pete Whitmore

Josh Siegel Saddlery

Mallet Roll Off Dumpster Service

Mending Fences Animal Wellness

Morin Real Estate, Terry Lupien

Mount Tully Pet Hotel & Store

Natural Balance Equine Dentistry

Petersham Pump

Rosewood Farms Equine Transport

Stonebrook Farm, Devin Burdick

Triple T Fencing

Ken Wildman, Farrier

What to know about riding at NEECA.....
  • The NEECA gates are usually closed in order to deter mischief, but they are NEVER LOCKED
  • Park is open from Dawn to Dusk every day
  • Members are welcome to ride at the park anytime
  • If you would like to use the Main Arena, cost is $5 per 90 minute session, and you need to contact [email protected] to schedule a time
  • We ask that you sign a waiver before riding at the park. You can do so online:
  • Please close the gate when you leave, as long as there is no official event taking place that day
  • Clean up around your trailer before leaving. There is a dumpster on site for trash, and please pick up all manure left in parking areas

About NEECA Membership Benefits.......

The following businesses and professionals support NEECA by offering special discounts to our members (current NEECA membership card most be shown to receive discounts):

Community Horse Magazine (spring/summer and fall/winter online issues)

Hardwick Farmers Co-op (3% Off All Purchases, add'l 7% off on special Members Sale Days)


Horseback & Body Massage ($10 off, 413-320-7690 )


Family Pet Vet Service ($15 off annual exam, 978-249-4626)

Déjà vu Women's Consignments (10 % off, Main Street, Athol)

Orange Tractor Supply (10% off all HORSE supplies)

Mending Fences Animal Wellness (Discount off Massage + MagnaWave Treatment for your horse. $180 value, only $155 for NEECA members, 508-864-9840 )

White Pickets Studio (10% off, Petersham, MA)

Plus NEECA members receive special rates on certain NEECA sponsored events throughout the year.

"The mission of NEECA is to preserve and protect land for equine interests while promoting good horsemanship and educating equestrians for the betterment of the horse now, and for the generations to follow."