Country Life Farm Expands

The Pons' family's Country Life Farm of Bel Air, Md. announced Friday the acquistion of Merryland Farm, a 159-acre horse farm located in the Long Green Valley of Maryland.

The final details were settled on Aug. 16 as Country Life purchased the property from William Rickman, owner of Delaware Park. Jeff Warring, a former assistant trainer to D. Wayne Lukas, will become farm manager on Sept. 1.

Merryland Farm has been renamed "Country Life Nursery at Merryland Farm," and the new property will become home to mares, foals, and yearlings owned by Country Life Farm and its clients. The main farm at Country Life will remain the home for the farm's six stallions.

"We wanted to link the names of these two established farms, as well as describe the new farm's function as a nursery," said Josh Pons, who operates Country Life Farm in partnership with his brother Michael and their families. "Sort of like Oriole Park at Camden Yards. We are fortunate to have purchased such a turn-key facility only eight miles from Country Life. It has 83 stalls, eight run-in sheds, a five-eighths-mile training track, and 18 miles of new board fencing."

Urban encroachment has been a growing problem for Country Life Farm and this new property will help make both farms stronger, according to Pons. "It's in a well-preserved agricultural community that was kind of leap-frogged by development. We needed a place that was close enough to get to on short notice, but had to be out of the expensive property.

"The new farm will make things a little less hectic. Country Life Farm, with the stallion operation, will be the showroom floor. The new farm will be like the baby factory. It will allow us to expand and house the number of mares that we need to take care of with our growing stallion operation.

Founded in 1939 by the late Danny Shea, Merryland was noted for its quality clientele. William Woodward, Stuart S. Janney Jr., and David Werblin at one time or another had their yearlings broken there. Mrs. Henry Obre and her son Michael Wettach bought the farm from Betty Shea Miller in the 1960s, and Miller managed the property until the mid-1980s. Purchased by Seymour Cohen, the farm was gifted to the Baltimore County Parks and Recreation Department in the early 1990s before being sold, at public auction, to Rickman two years ago.

"Betty Miller phoned us the night we settled on the property," Pons said. "Under her care, the farm was a place of merriment as well as serious business. We intend to keep that spirit alive. Merryland is a special kind of place, and it's the perfect fit for an expansion of Country Life."