Super Senior: Mike Mauss

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 12:55 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Williston is a town in transition. From its commercial core at Taft Corners, to the new neighborhoods that were once farmland, Mike Mauss has seen it all at Windswept Farm.

“When I moved here, this was a dirt road,” Mauss said.

The farm is a little oasis of agriculture just outside the village. Once a dairy operation, it’s now exclusively equine. Mauss shares the duties with his wife, Tina. “Every morning, we clean these stalls,” she explained.

They board horses and train people to ride. “She’s really, really good with young riders, giving them a correct start,” Mauss said.

“I think we’re both really patient,” added Tina.

Mauss focuses on the more experienced riders. The mornings, though, are for chores. There are no days off for the couple. “Keeps us strong,” TIna said.

Mauss is 80 and even before he steps into the barn, there’s a routine. “I start out with tai chi to limber up, then I do sit-ups, pushups, leg-lifts,” Mauss said.

“He sits there and planks with one hand - wow,” Tina said.

The exercising of the mind comes in the afternoon. “I spend a lot of time studying why horses function the way they do, why their biomechanics work, how their bodies work,” Mauss said. It’s dressage -- literally the French word for training

“A lot of the kids tease me, they say I’m so old I must be a vampire. Well, there’s a certain amount of truth to that. When you’re dealing with young people all the time, it keeps you at the top of your game,” Mauss said.

He has been teaching riders for close to 50 years. “It’s constant. You’re feeling what your body’s doing and you’re feeling what the horse’s body is doing,” he explained.

In harmony on the farm. “This land is absolutely so beautiful,” Tina said. The couple only owns five acres of land. They lease 80 from a neighbor, mostly for haying. But the future of this land staying untouched -- along with their farm -- is in doubt. The property owner is considering building homes.”

“If we lose this pasture land here, we will be out of business,” Tina said. “My goal is to raise enough money to buy out the development rights of the land.”

Reporter Joe Carroll: What’s your feeling, do you think you’ll be able to do it?

Mike Mauss: I guess I’m optimistic, I hope so. But I’m optimistic by nature, so.

For now, the couple will keep doing what they do best, steering horse and rider in the right direction. “I’m very happy to have had the occasion to be here and to relate to all the people I’ve known over the years, and they’ve made my life very rich,” Mauss said.

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