17-Year-Old Takes Charge at Pony Tails Farm
Brittany Wunsch is reinvigorating the business her parents founded.
Brittany Wunsch has taken the reins of Pony Tails Farm in unincorporated New Port Richey.
Wunsch, 17, is the daughter of Bob Wusch and Judy Mandel, the founders of Pony Tails. Brittany grew up at Pony Tails Farm. Now, she runs the business and is working to rejuvenate it.
Pony Tails is in the business of putting kids on the backs of ponies and horses. It hosts parties at its 4.3-acre farm on Sunbeam Drive. At these parties, kids can ride ponies. The party package also includes presentations from the farm’s petting zoo and a hayride.
Pony Tails also brings its ponies, horses, and petting zoos to parties held elsewhere. The business also holds horse riding parties that include the petting zoo and hayride. Riding lessons and a saddle up club are also available.
Brittany’s parents created Pony Tails 16 or 17 years ago. They performed many of the same services Brittany provides now. Bob Wunsch built the business through word of mouth, Brittany said, and was well known. He would give Brittany little business cards to hand out.
While growing up, Brittany “used to go to all the parties” that Pony Tails was involved in, Judy said.
“She used to wake up and say ‘Whose birthday is it today?’” Judy said.
Brittany shared the farm with horses and ponies, including Macaroni, a pony older than she is. Her favorite pony, though, is Duchess, who she’s had for six or seven years.
When she was young, her parents always said she would take over the business, “but I didn’t want to,” she said.
When Brittany was 15, her father died. He had health problems and weight problems and had been in and out of the hospital. On Oct. 25, 2010, Bob Wunsch died of congestive heart failure at the age of 54.
Although it still had some customers, the farm went into hibernation, and business had been slow even prior to Bob Wunsch's death. Other things took priority after Bob’s death. Judy has fibromyalgia, which makes physical work difficult, and also had difficulty with depression in the wake of her husband’s passing.
Within a year of her father’s passing, Brittany reconnected with Nic Wilson, who used to go to school with her from pre-kindergarten second grade. Wilson, now a Ridgewood High student, and Brittany became boyfriend and girlfriend.
Wilson then started working at Pony Tails Farm.
This past summer, he and Brittany were working at the farm when he asked “Do you want to restart the business?"
She ultimately decided to give it a go.
“Why not?” she reflects. “There was no one else to do it.”
Brittany also said "We might as well go down trying, if we are going to go down."
She took to Facebook to promote the business and increased its presence dramatically. She hosted open farm events this fall where she showed off what Pony Tails has to offer.
She runs the business and works with Nic. Judy is still the business owner because Brittany is still 17, but her role mostly focuses on giving advice to Brittany. Brittany is the boss and makes the decisions.
Brittany watched how her father worked and emulates him, Judy said. She also has added new programs to the business.
“I’m very proud of her,” Judy said.
"Nic and Brittany work well together," Judy said.
"They took over more and more, and they really turned everything to gold," she said.
Brittany recently drew up a business plan for Pony Tails.
“I just want us to keep this going for as long as we can,” she said.
Brittany isn’t sure where her future lies. She is eyeing a career in child are,
Running the Pony Tails business is “interesting, but it definitely takes a lot, a lot, a lot of work,” Brittany said.
The horses keep her busy even at the predawn hours.
The job also has its exciting moments, too.
She sees the impact being around the ponies has on kids.
“It’s exciting to see the reaction on the kids’ faces,” she said.
Want to check out Pony Tails?
Pay a visit to the farm at 9645 Sunbeam Drive in New Port Richey. The farm can be called at 727-862-7000 to find out more about its pricing.