Our Story

 

Hemphill's Horses, Feed, and Saddlery, Inc. is a new business operating in the footprint and in the spirit of what was formerly Hemphill’s, Inc.   The new “Hemphill’s” is family owned and operated by Emily Mitchell and Bill Rafuse.  Together with our children, our extended family, and the community at large, we aim to create a mecca for horse lovers across Maine and New England.  We are stepping into a tradition of providing a one-stop shop for all things equine with the sale of horses, tack, and feed, as well as a camp horse rental program, we intend to expand our offerings to include educational clinics in a variety of disciplines, seminars on veterinary care and nutrition, competitions and fun family friendly events.

We are a retail facility offering feed, tack and riding equipment and general farm supplies, as well as horses for sale and lease.  Creighton established a reputation as a talented horse trader with an eye for quality horses and people from around the state continue to look to Hemphill's as a retailer of affordable horses.  The feed operation is one of the biggest in the area and supplies feed to local sub-dealers as well as to horse farms and horse owners.  The tack store has space to sell all basic needs for horse and rider. It will continue to offer basic farrier and vet supplies, grooming equipment, horse clothing, stable and fencing needs, clothing and tack, and will be expanding its line of english riding apparel and equipment as well as team penning gear and other customer requests to meet the demand of area riders.

Hemphill’s was founded by Creighton and Margaret Hemphill and was family owned and operated by the Hemphill family for over 30 years.  It grew to become an icon and institution in North Vassalboro.  We are lucky to inherit the good will and great reputation that they developed over a lifetime of trading horses, selling tack, and retailing feed.  We are excited to keep Hemphill’s open and thriving for the next generation of horse enthusiasts in Maine.

Emily has officially been riding horses since she was 6 years old and met the age requirement to take lessons at Oak Grove Coburn School riding program which was run at the time by Ivy Rasco.  Before that, she convinced family members to take her across the street to the Riverside Fire Station whenever there was a horse show and convinced friendly competitors to let her sit aboard a horse or pony between classes.  At age 7, she competed her first pony, Miss Kineo, a camp horse from Hemphill’s, at that same show.  Creighton Hemphill supported her from the rail and smiled when she won a trophy on her camp pony.  She worked for Creighton as an exercise rider during high school and learned invaluable lessons about horses and people from him and from the Hemphill’s staff.  Her passion for horses has taken her around the country and world including time spent riding for the equestrian team at Princeton, working at a dude ranch in Colorado, teaching lessons in New York’s Central Park, and guiding rides and managing a stable for a riding vacation resort in southern Spain.  Her love of family and Maine brought her home again for law school and, ultimately, she came full circle back to Vassalboro and opened Lupine Farm, LLC, a small and thriving stable offering boarding, lessons, shows, sales, and summer camps.  Her husband, Bill Rafuse, joined her on her life’s journey shortly after she started Lupine Farm and he has embraced their farm life wholeheartedly and been a true partner in its’ growth and expansion since 2009.  Emily and Bill have two children, Elliott and Willa, who are growing up with a love of horses, tractors, playing outside, and the wonders of childhood on a farm in Central Maine.

Bill Rafuse is a farm boy at heart.  He spent his formative years on a small farm in Oakland where his parents raised hogs, chickens, and vegetables and managed bait ponds for his father’s small business.  He grew up in a family owned small business environment helping his father out at his hunting and fishing store, Charlie’s Log Cabin.  He also has a passion for summer camp and the camp philosophy after spending nearly 20 years combined as a camper and then as a counselor at Camp Tracy.  After graduation from the University of Farmington, Bill split time between Maine’s coast and Maine’s mountains working as a carpenter and contractor building fine homes on Great Diamond Island and condos at Sugarloaf where he also worked as a ski instructor.  He moved to the farm with Emily, started helping her with the horses and camps and managing the grounds before and after his day job selling insurance, and never looked back.  He has added gardens, chickens and sheep to their growing project list and menagerie and continues to look for ways to incorporate sustainable agriculture practices and creative land use into their daily operations.  Together with his wife, Emily, he is raising the two beautiful children, Elliott and Willa, mentioned in Emily’s bio.