Margaret Coulter – Founder/Director
Newport resident and lifelong equestrian Margaret Coulter brings a wide range of life’s experience to Road to Independence. With a BA from Colby Sawyer College, Margaret has worked in numerous fields in the region. . Margaret worked as a direct service provider for Turning Points Network; managed the Lake Sunapee Area Lodging Bureau; worked in guest services, as a lift attendant and snowmaker at Mount Sunapee Resort. She was the founder and co-owner of a retail children’s shop in New London. Margaret also worked as a photo lab technician and photographer at Sierra Photo and at Mt. Sunapee Resort.She is a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning and is working towards PATH certification as a Therapeutic Driving Instructor. In her spare time she competes her Cleveland Bay mare and is C-2 HM,D-3 Traditional and C-1 flat level in the Pony Club HorseMasters Program with 8T Acres Pony Club Riding Center. She has been an advocate for her 55 year-old differently abled brother, for as long as she can remember. She has been his job coach, medical care advocate, and community advocate as well. She knows first-hand the happiness and heartache of the differently abled community community.
Barbara Marzelli – VP/Treasurer Barbara has a BA from Colby-Sawyer College is the mother of 2 and lives in Newbury, NH. In addition to running her own gardening business, she navigates her young adults special medical needs and assists as he navigates his after high school plans. She advocates on behalf of others during legislative hearings in Concord. Her passion is seeing the “whole picture” and understands that sometimes it takes a village to help raise up one individual.
Deb MacMahon – Treasurer – Deb is a certified accountant and lifelong equestrian and manages ”Mares Run Farm” with her husband in Goshen.
Nicole Dubaere –Niki has a degree in Elementary Ed & minor in Special Ed from New England College; she is a mom of an 10 yo daughter and caregiver for an 88 yo woman in New London. She organizes and runs a small summer camp for 5 girls in Bradford,NH. She is a community volunteer and is passionate about animals and gardening on their small family farm in Bradford, NH.
Ginny Parker – Ginny is a guardian/mentor for differently abled 26 yo daughter and an an advocate for many. She is a Special Olympics Coach for basketball,swimminh,bowling,track & field and snowshoeing. In her spare time she is a jewelry & floral designer and has previously been a a kitchen and restaurant manager.
Debbie Walker –Deb has a degree in Early Childhood Ed and minor in Business. Currently she is a Real Estate Associate @ Coldwell Banker Lifestyles and a job coach/mentor for a differently–abled man. Previously Deb started and managed a children’s retail store in New London and was an employee at Craig Hospital working with quadriplegics and paraplegics. She is an advocate for individuals with cognitive & physical challenges as a survivor of a closed head injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
Chakola’s Place Donkeys – Support Staff
Donkeys/Burros/Asses are all names for the same animal. “Donkey” is the English name, the Spanish name is “burro” and the Latin is “Assinus”, commonly called ass. In the US the most frequently seen donkeys are the standard donkeys.
A mix of many breeds, colors and types, the standard donkey is divided into three sizes:
- Small standard – 37″ to 40″
- Standard – 41″ to 48″
- Large standard – 49′ to 54″
In addition to the Standard size donkeys, there are the Miniature donkeys, those under 36″ tall and large donkeys which are called American Mammoth Jackstock. These donkeys start at 54″ for females (called jennets or jennys) and 56″ for the males (called jacks; castrated males are referred to as geldings.).
Donkeys of all sizes can be used in many ways. When well treated, they are willing to do most things that they are asked to do. All sizes may be ridden, obviously the miniature are only suitable for smaller children.
They can be driven to a cart, used to pack and the larger ones are courageous guard animals.
They are often great alarm systems, alerting everyone to visitors. They are very often kept as babysitters for other equines, and as general pets.
The donkeys at Chakola’s Place come in a variety of sizes and perform a variety of activities, all in the name of fun.
In the fall we participate in the Save Your Ass Donkey and Mule Rescue Show in Acworth, NH. At this show, we compete in in-hand classes, showmanship classes, driving classes, obstacle classes, costume and game classes as well as coon jumping classes. At one time donkeys were used to hunt raccoon as they could jump obstacles, such as stone walls, from a stand still. A coon jumping competition involves jumping a single rail from a stand still. The donkey that clears the highest rail wins.
We have walked in the Newport Winter Carneval Parade and Homecoming Parades, also the Wassail Parade in South Woodstock, VT. We have walked with the Sullivan County Democrats in two local Old Home Day Parades.
Additionally, we take walks through the woods down to the nearby “Goshen Ocean” on hot summer days. Penny’s donkeys have introduced many children and adults to the joys of working with animals.
Donkey And Mule Bios!
A total of nine donkeys and one mini mule live at Chakola’s Place. Seven are mini donkeys, one is a standard, one is a mammoth donkey. Each donkey has a definite personality. While each donkey can be counted on to respond calmly and reliably in any given situation , each donkey will have their own opinion on the matter.
Circle C Mattie – “Mattie”was born in Alberta Canada in 1991 and imported by Penny de Peyer. She is what is called a frosted sorrel color at 25 she is the elder stateswoman of the farm. As the oldest and the most reserved, she is our go to donkey for individuals who might be a little bit timid or walking through an obstacle course for the first time. Mattie pulls a cart and is always a good sport about however we outfit her.
Chakola’s Nutmeg was born in 1998 and is a dark brown jenny. She has had several foals. She has been ridden and regularly competes at the shows in the miniature classes. She is also in the early stages of learning how to drive or pull a cart. She is owned and bred by Penny de Peyer.
Chakola’s Pepper is an 11 year old, miniature black jenny. She is Nutmegs’ daughter. Peppper is a veteran of the show ring. She is in the early stages of driving. Pepper is our visiting therapy donkey and has never hesitated to go any of the places we have asked her to visit and is a favorite wherever she goes. She has paved the way for our other donkeys who now join us on visits. She has even made a home visit.
The largest donkey on the farm is Chakola’s Okemo. She is a jenny born in 2002 in NH and is owned and bred by Penny de Peyer. Kemo looks like a pure bred Poitou but is in fact only a part bred. She exhibits the long hair and all other characteristics of the pure bred. The Poitou Donkey is the hairiest and most endangered donkey in the world. Kemo competes in the Mammoth classes and is a favorite among participants who like to groom the donkeys. Kemo has been started driving and we look forward to her progress as a driving donkey.
One of the newest additions to the RTI farm crew is Leonard, the mini mule! Leonard was in need of a job and he has found many jobs with us. As a new addition, Leonard joined us to a visit at Sunapee Cove, walked in the Bradford 4th of July Parade and won the obstacle class at the Save Your Ass Rescue Donkey and Mule Show.