The Ponderosa started out with two horses, Johnn’s Belgian, Champ, and Connie’s Morgan, Molly. Besides the horses the farm included pigs, laying hens, cattle including a bull, geese, a bunny, and barn cats. The farm developed into a small business that included selling eggs, cheese, and other products. As the years rolled by, the Ponderosa changed, and along with the change came a new name, Horse Heaven. The Ballentines began operating a stable, which included an outdoor arena, riding lessons, and boarding horses. Johnn was central to Horse Heaven as he maintained the barn, took care of the horses, baled hay and maintained the outdoor area.
I met Johnn when I leased Connie’s horse Pepper. When I came to the barn to saddle up, Johnn was usually there doing barn chores, mending fences, tinkering with the well’s pump, cutting wood, or working on a piece of equipment in his machine shop. The years took a total on Johnn, In 2019, Johnn’s horses, Sam and Myrtle passed away. He missed his horses, and at the same time, his health gradually declined until he was no longer able to work in the barn or his shop.
Johnn was born in Wallace Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania on October 9, 1942, to James M. Ballentine and Dorothy Erma Draper Ballentine. He grew up on a farm in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and attended Downingtown High School. After high school, he became a certified welder and an employee of North American Car in Sayre, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife, Connie Kulsicavage Ballentine, son, Creig Ballentine of Elverson, Pennsylvania, daughter, Cherin Leinweber of Tucson, Arizona, step-grandson, Michael Leinweber, brother, Paul M. Ballentine of Ulster, Pennsylvania and uncles, Thomas Ballentine of Coatesville, Pennsylvania and Hank Ballentine of Tennessee.
When I would come to the stables to ride, I usually spoke with Johnn about ordinary stuff, the weather, or the horses. I’d always said goodbye when I left for home and Johnn invariably would answer “Okey dokey”. This is my final goodbye. He will be missed by his family and friends. May he rest in peace.
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