Horseback riding, a multi-generational legacy
Mary Herbert, owner and operator of Forrestel, is a fifth generation member of the family who built Forrestel into the magnificent summer camp and working farm it is today. The farm was established in 1825 and in later years Mary’s grandfather, Eugene Peter Forrestel, purchased it from his brother-in-law during the Depression. E.P. bred and raised Belgians including national champion Roscoe Peel.
“Papa” discovered his love of farming and horses – he had pigs, Jersey milking cows, and Herefords. He sold bulls to President Roosevelt and Belgian horses to President Grover Cleveland. Grampa was quite a guy.
E.P.‘s daughter, Marjorie Forrestel, had a passion for horses. Her beloved mare “Persian Slipper” produced several foals. Her youngest colt “Moran” became one of the top five confirmation hunters in the United States in 1992. Mary’s parents also played an instrumental role in the growth and development of the summer camp, and their legacy lives on today.
Mary spent her youth riding and competing in show jumping. As a young adult, she developed an interest in dressage and took instruction from Gran Prix rider Sidley Pain and Olympic Gold Medalist Edith Master. She continued to ride and compete while earning her degree in Theology from Boston College. Shortly after she ran the lesson program for Debbie and John Shaffner, the Gran Prix rider who campaigned the Olympic jumper, Abdullah.
From day camp to overnight camp
In 1980 Mary returned to Western New York and began to develop her own program at Forrestel. The summer camp program began as a small horseback riding day camp that catered to local children. As interest grew, Mary started offering overnight camp in addition to the day camp program. Now Forrestel offers 6 sessions to children who come from all over the United States, Canada, and overseas.
Over the last 30 years, the camp has developed its own unique place in the horseback riding industry. It is one of the stateliest equestrian properties in the region and offers high quality English horseback riding instruction. Forrestel is known for its friendly, accessible, down-to-earth atmosphere. Staff originates from all corners of the globe, including such faraway places as Australia and New Zealand. Summer campers and counselors alike become part of the Forrestel family and return year after year.