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Horse farm owner exemplifies selflessness



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Jeanne Tuzik, owner of Oak Pointe Stables in Addison, poses with Tjibbe, a Friesian horse. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010 - From raising money to help those in need to educating local school children, Jeanne Tuzik, owner of Oak Pointe Stables on Hosner Rd. in Addison Township, is constantly touching the lives of others.

"We just try to reach out to the community in whatever way we can," said Tuzik, who lives in Lake Orion. "I think it's a responsibility of all business owners to give back at least as much as they're getting."

Her husband of 20 years, Steve, e-mailed the Leader last week from Saudi Arabia, where he lives and works for a construction company, singing his wife's praises and asking us to do a "feel good story" about her.

"She is a selfless person who is dedicated to providing (for) those less fortunate even with all the hardships she has (to endure) with me being away working, raising the family and so forth," Steve wrote.

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Tuzik and her husband bought the horse farm in 2006 after she had been boarding her horses there for a while and helping out around the farm.

"I haven't had a day off in six years, but I love it. It's a lifestyle and a passion," said Tuzik, who gets help running the farm from her 22-year-old son, Michael, his wife, Lindsey, and her daughter, Megan, who's an eighth-grader at Kingsbury Country Day School.

"I've always loved horses," she explained, noting she started riding her best friend's horses as a young girl growing up in Connecticut. "We ran through the state land, through the woods. We had a ball. That's how it started when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper."

Owning the 20-acre farm is a dream come true for Tuzik and although she's by no means a wealthy person, that doesn't stop her from sharing what she has with others.

"We're just a little farm and we don't make any money, but we're so happy and tickled with our lives, we just want to reach out to those around us," she said.

Three times a year, Oak Pointe Stables holds horse shows to raise money for various charities and folks in need.

Tuzik's most recent show raised just over $2,000 for one of her boarders who's battling breast cancer and the poor economy. After working in tool-and-die for more than 20 years, her husband's company folded. He's working again, but making much less.

Prior to that show, Tuzik held fund-raisers for the Oakland County Chapter of the Autism Society of America and the Lake Orion High School Equestrian Team.

"We support all the equestrian teams in Oakland County," she said. "We let them use our facility to practice. We have beautiful jumps. We have three arenas. I also donate all of my training time. Right now, I train all of the jumpers from the Clarkston equestrian team. I've done that for a couple of years gratis."

She also provides services to equestrian teams from Oxford, Brandon and the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills.

Tuzik allows equestrian team members who can't afford to buy or own a horse to lease one from her. Sometimes she lets them use a horse for free.

"We don't want that to exclude them from participating in an equestrian team," she said.

Tuzik is extremely passionate about education. That's why she provides free tours of her farm to school children and has even become a part of their curriculum, again free of charge.

"I believe what we can offer at our facility is just so wonderful and majestic that it should be part of the educational process," she said. "Any educational program that wants to incorporate us, we're absolutely glad to do it."

Kingsbury Country Day School in Addison offers a class where the children come out to the farm and learn about the horse, its history, its mechanics and its nutritional program. The students even get a chance to do a "walk-trot" on a horse.

"You know the horse has contributed immensely to American history. America was built on the backs of horses," Tuzik explained. "I'm very passionate about children understanding the importance of the horse and keeping that alive."

All of the students from Orion's Carpenter Elementary School visit Oak Pointe Stables as part of week-long program that teaches about 80 students a day.

"Because they're a year-round school program, they need to add things to their curriculum," Tuzik said.

In addition to the financial and educational support she provides on a regular basis, Tuzik has worked with people one-on-one to help them regain their lives.

One such example involved a female riding student at her farm who had suffered a stroke and knew traditional therapy wasn't going to facilitate her recovery.

She wanted Hippotherapy, which is "rehabilitating your physical, mental and cognitive skills using the horse to achieve the same goals you would in a traditional physical therapy setting," according to Tuzik.

Hippotherapy uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input.

Unfortunately, due to liability and other issues, she couldn't find anyone willing to take her on. Once again, Tuzik came to the rescue and once again, it was all free of charge.

"We put her on a very docile, wonderful horse named Echo," she said. "We put a team of people around her, so if she fell, we would catch her."

The result?

"Not only has she rehabilitated herself, she's riding her own horse and riding on trails bareback. That's how well she has rehabilitate herself," Tuzik said. "It worked. She knew in her gut that was what was going to make her heal. She's a very smart lady. She knew what type of rehabilitation she needed."

So what does the future hold for Tuzik?

Her plans are simple keep running her farm and someday build a house on it.

"The property is very quaint and wholesome," she said.

She absolutely loves being so close to Oxford.

"I think Oxford is just a beautiful town. The people are just wonderful," Tuzik said. "I think right there in Oxford you have the best of both worlds it can be very rural, yet still have everything in reach, everything you could want."

For more information about Oak Pointe Stables, please visit www.oakpointestables.com.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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