"When Lacey got old enough to work, I asked her what she wanted to do," said Mary Baldwin, Lacey's mom. "And she said she wanted to do something with horses, and then she came up with the idea of pony parties. It's all her thing."
Since September, the 17-year-old Antioch High senior has been horsing around throughout East County with a business called Pony Party Passions. Helped by her mom and a friend, Jimella Taylor, Lacey brings Belle of the Ball and Thunder and Lightning to birthday parties, weddings and family gatherings.
For $125 per hour per pony - $175 for both - little buckaroos can hop on, saddle up and experience their own little slice of cowboy or cowgirl heaven.
For many, it's their first introduction to equines.
"Pony rides are usually how most people get to meet horses," said Mary, who boards the ponies in Bethel Island. "We view the parties also as our opportunity to let them see how wonderful horses are, and to maybe educate people a little in the process."
They learn that horses are measured by the height of a man's hand - approximately four inches. Both of the Baldwin's ponies are 13.2 hands tall, a standard pony size.
While affectionate and playful - "they're like big dogs," said Lacey - they can spook easily and should never be shouted at or approached from behind.
Although strong and powerful, horses are also subject to a variety of aliments.
"Horses are beautiful animals, but they are delicate," said Mary. "Look at poor Barbaro. To watch a horse run, they seem so strong, yet you have these great, heavy animals standing on these bitty legs."
Lacey's biggest expense is the upkeep, including inoculations for West Nile Virus and the regular visits from the horseshoer every six to eight weeks. Then there is the cost of boarding them and general care.
"They are very expensive," said Mary, "but worth it, of course."
Both of their ponies are rescued animals, bought from owners who had rescued them from abusive environments. While the ponies have found a loving, safe home, what they have brought with them is equally as special.
"This has been a nice thing for Lacey and me to do together without yelling at each other," said Mary, who has been around and raised horses all of her life. "She's going to be 18 soon, and I wanted to find something that we could do as a mom and daughter. It's been wonderful for both of us."
"There is just so much about riding that I love," said Lacey, laughing as Thunder and Lightning nuzzles her shoulder. "And it's a sport, no matter what anyone says. It works muscles you didn't even know you had."