Annual Meeting

Have you received your invitation to our Annual Meeting and Celebration of Horses & Humans Improving Lives – 1st October 2017

Click here to R.S.V.P.

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Leaving a Legacy

Three of the Best!

Kurt Ziemann (center) an early participant at High Hopes, talks fondly of his time learning to ride, with Holly Ridgway (left) and Jonnie Edwards (right)

An overcast afternoon, heavy with the threat of thunder, could not stop nearly one hundred people from visiting the Legacy Garden at High Hopes last Friday.

The celebration, hosted by the Legacy Society, was to honor two of High Hopes longest serving instructors, Jonnie Edwards and Holly Ridgway. Holly has retired as an instructor, but has since gone on to give and give again, as a working Trustee. Most recently chairing the MoonDance Auction.

Students, some of whom had started out with Jonnie, recalled their introduction to a lifelong love of horses through High Hopes, and many volunteers recounted stories of working alongside Holly and Jonnie in the ring and on the trails.

The thunder held off, allowing everyone to enjoy a relaxed get together in the midst of the Legacy Garden at it’s best.

Check out some pictures here – and see more, or please feel free to download full resolution versions on Flickr



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Music under the Stars

Tickets still available – Saturday, August 19th.

Do you miss Symphony in the Meadows?

Well here is your chance to once again soak up the panoramic views of the Connecticut River at Mark and Dorinda Winkelman’s beautiful estate on Hayden’s Point, Essex.

Enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeurves, a gourmet supper and desserts all while listening to glorious music performed by the Trombones of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra (TECSO). Their diverse repertoire of music ranges from Bach to the Beatles.

Proceeds from this special evening will be split evenly and benefit the programs of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and High Hopes.

Terms: Limited to the first 125 people to sign up.

Date is Saturday, August 19 with a rain date of Sunday, August 20, 2017.

Set Bid: $125 per Guest
Donated by: Mark & Dorinda Winkelman, The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding & Coffee’s Country Market


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Meet Griffin

Griffin, age 5, began riding at High Hopes in the summer of 2014 as a participant in our Immersion Camp program run in conjunction with L&M Hospital. Griffin has a progressive and terminal condition known as MPS type III A, a rare disease that prevents his body from breaking down toxins, allowing them to build up in his muscles and organs and affecting him both physically and neurologically. There is no cure for MPS, only experimental therapies – which can be scary.

Since Griffin’s diagnosis, his mother Kerri has wanted him to become involved in therapeutic riding at High Hopes as a way of building physical strength while slowing his disease’s progression. Because of his disability Griffin is non-verbal which makes forming personal bonds difficult, but his love of animals is constant and strong.

Riding at High Hopes works Griffin’s muscles. It strengthens his core as he sits straight and works leg muscles needed for balance. When Griffin dismounts from Petra he stands taller and doesn’t fall as often.

More importantly, riding for Griffin is a fun activity that provides an outlet for his mental energy. Riding breaks through his mental and physical isolation and for a short while each week Griffin is just a happy boy experiencing the joys of being with his beloved pony.

Griffin’s mom, Kerri, works hard to ensure her son has the best care needed to improve his quality of life while extending the time he has available. Riding at High Hopes helps meet those goals but would not be possible without financial assistance.

Your donation provides direct financial assistance to Griffin and hundreds of other children and adults with disabilities from throughout Connecticut and makes their participation in life changing, equine-assisted activities a reality. Learn more here.

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When you shop on be sure to use our Amazon Smile link and Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to High Hopes!

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding

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Continuing Education Units at High Hopes


To maintain compliance as a PATH Intl. Certified Professional, documentation of a minimum of 20 continuing education hours must be obtained during a 12 month period to include core requirements as defined below.

Types, limits & conversions

  • DE Disability Education Minimum
    6 hours (no maximum) 60 min = 1 DE
  • CR Certification Core Requirement
    Minimum of 2 Hours per certification 60 min = 1 CR
  • CE General Continuing Education
    No minimum or maximum requirement 60 min = 1 CE
  1. General Continuing Education Hours (CE) are defined as any allowable continuing education hours that do not fall under Disability Education (defined below) or Certification Core Requirements (defined below).
  2. Minimum of 6 hours of disability education. Disability education (DE) is defined as educational activities that provide the student with greater understanding of the physical, social, cognitive and/or behavioral impacts experienced by individuals with disabilities, mental health disorders or emotional trauma.
  3. Minimum of 2 hours of Core Education relevant to each certification held: Certification Core Requirements (CR) is defined as the specific type of continuing education hours that one must obtain to stay compliant with each certification held.

Visit the CEU Guidelines webpage on the PATH Intl. website to learn what applies as Disability Education.



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Protected: Website staff & marketing committee audit

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picture by Gina Starks

We are sorry to report that we lost a much loved member of our herd last night – Whibley.

Although Whibley had not been at High Hopes as long as many of our herd, he impressed and endeared himself to everyone with his amazing presence; both physical and in spirit … he was a huge horse with a huge heart!

Whibley presented in the Monday afternoon class with abdominal discomfort, initially thought to be colic. He received all the treatment that could be provided here at High Hopes from both Holly and our veterinarian, but it was clear that the issue needed further investigation and Holly therefore transported him to Tufts late last night.

The wonderful team at Tufts did all they could, but unfortunately to no avail and we lost Whibley early this morning.

We hope that friends of Whibley will leave memories and pictures of him at his stall, or on facebook. Anything you send we will add to this page (so be sure to let us know if we should not publish it).

We will miss you big guy! … may your pastures be always green


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Immersion 2017

IMMERSION is a collaboration between Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and High Hopes and made possible by a grant from the Baker Foundation, funding the program through “Autism Speaks”.

Each program enables 12 children between the ages of 4 and 6 to spend four days immersed in equine assisted activities and therapies; on and off the saddle. This year’s participants experienced riding for the first time, met Ezra the therapy dog, enjoyed sensory crafts – and had fun in the sun – all with specific therapeutic goals, supported by the L&M PT team.

Short rotations provide opportunities for skill acquisition. The L&M Hospital provides one-on-one support from Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Language Therapists and specially trained Volunteers and nationaly Certified Riding Instructors from High Hopes complete the team. Children are exposed to a range of sensory experiences both mounted and unmounted. The High Hopes sensory trail is a woodland trail with twists, turns, inclines, sloping paths, and varied terrain. Eight different obstacles challenge the rider’s auditory, visual, tactile, and olfactory abilities and the natural environment that allows the rider to develop skills outside of the regularity of the arena.

A picture tells 1000 words – and in his case, far more. Here are some more wonderful photographs of IMMERSION Summer 2017.

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Trustees 2017-2018


The New Board of Trustees - 2017 - 20187

John Catlett


John spent more than 26 years with the consulting firm Accenture before retiring as a senior partner. He holds degrees from Drew University and Lehigh University.

John lives in Lyme with his wife, Athana, and three daughters, Sarah, Sabrina and Anna.

Read the Press Release 06/28/2017

Jeffrey Ridgway

Vice Chair – Development
Jeff is retired from Boatyards and Building. He has served 21 yrs. on the Board of Trustees with two years as President. His many leadership roles at High Hopes include assisting with the construction of our facility in 1990 and serving as Co-Chair with Holly of the ‘94 and ‘95 Antiques Show. Co-Chairing the 2000 Building expansion project, Co-Chair of the High Hopes Hoedown, now the HH Holiday Market, A member of the Building and Grounds Committee for 27yrs. He is actively involved with many events such as the Concert in the Barn and Symphony in the Meadows. He was the recipient of the NARHA Region I Volunteer of the Year Award in 2009. Born in Africa, Jeff grew up in the UK. He and his wife, Holly, reside in Chester.

Affiliation – Caulfield & Ridgway

Seymour Smith

Vice Chair

Seymour served as Flight Officer and Lieutenant in the US Navy. Currently retired, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Connecticut Bank and Trust Company; Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Signal Capital Corporation; Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of New England Savings Bank and was a private consultant for various healthcare organizations. Seymour has served on the Boards of Connecticut State University, Hartford Stage Company and Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. Seymour attended Hamilton College and received his MBA from Columbia University. His wife, Tia, has previously served on the High Hopes Board of Trustees. Seymour is currently on the Finance Committee. Seymour and Tia reside in Essex.

James Scott Douglas

Vice Chair

Scott is Chairman of the Board of Dancker Sellew & Douglas, an interior solutions firm. He brings extensive volunteer experience to the Board, in particular with organizations supporting children’s issues. In addition to a BA degree in Botany from the University of Vermont, he has completed graduate coursework in accounting and finance. Currently he is Scott and his wife Wendy reside in Old Lyme and Florida, and have four children and eight grandchildren.

Affiliation: Dancker Sellew & Douglas

Jacqueline Kangley


Jacqueline oversees product development and online marketing and sales for Amelie Michel French Table Linens and is the owner/designer of Jacqueline Kangley Handbags. Jacqueline was introduced to therapeutic riding by her Essex Elementary School classmates’ rides at LCVERA. Her first volunteer experiences were with Hawaii’s Haku Baldwin Center, and upon returning to Connecticut 15 years ago, she began volunteering with High Hopes. She currently volunteers in the therapeutic riding program and serves on the Program, Marketing Advisory and Fund Development Committee. She has co-chaired the Concert in the Barn and various auction, decor, and marketing benefit committees. Jacqueline is an alumna of The Hotchkiss School and Dartmouth College. She and her husband Stephen Dedman live in Hadlyme.

Affiliation: Amelie Michel French Table Linens/Jacqueline Kangley Handbags

Deborah Welles


Debbie is a practicing CPA with her own business in Old Lyme. She is married to John, with 3 children and 5 grandchildren who keep her busy. Debbie’s hobbies include hiking, gardening, kayaking, volunteering at High Hopes and family time.

Affiliation – Deborah Welles, CPA, LLC

Jane Bolles

Jane and her husband, Keith, own and operate the Saybrook Country Barn where Jane works full time. A former board member of High Hopes, Jane co-chaired Symphony in the Meadows twice, and was a member of the program committee and the Human Resources Advisory committee. She also coordinated a variety of programs for the families and riders. Twenty-two years ago, Jane learned of High Hopes (then LCVERA) while looking for a place for her then six-year-old daughter who is hearing impaired and intellectually challenged, to learn how to ride and be around horses. Now at 28, Lindsay is still a participant in the program. Jane is a resident of Essex.

Affiliation – Saybrook Country Barn

Sarah Hill Canning

Sarah and her husband Peter live in Stonington; they have two daughters, Kate and Martha. Sarah has volunteered at High Hopes since 2003- most recently carriage driving, and served on the Board from 2007-16. She was the scribe for the Board for several years. She is a past Chair of the Volunteer Committee, and has served on the Symphony, Governance and Development Committees. She was a member of her church Vestry, Director of the Altar Guild and is on the Board of Calvary Nursery School. She is a past President of the Mystic & Noank Library. She holds a degree from Boston University.

Hannah Metcalf Childs

Since 2000, Hannah has owned her own design business, Hannah Childs Interior Design. After moving to Old Lyme on 2004, Hannah began her volunteering at High Hopes by serving as the Decor chair for several of the Concert in the Barn events, later serving as the co-chair of the Motown Concert in the Barn in 2015. She is a member of the RISD Museum Associates in Providence, where she was born and raised. Hannah has served on the Board of the Florence Griswold Museum from 2010-2016, and continues to serve on their Planning Committee. Hannah and her husband, Jamie, have three children, Mac (14), George (12) and Thayer (10).

Affiliation: Hannah Childs Interior Design

Mark Fader

Mark Fader is The William School’s (New London, Connecticut) 10th Head of School since the fall of 2008 after previously serving as Assistant Head. He has over 25 years of experience as an educator, administrator, and coach. Prior to joining Williams he was at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC and at Severn School in Severna Park, MD. A Cum Laude Graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, Mark earned his BA in History and French and holds a Masters of Arts in Education from The College of William and Mary. Mark is active in the shoreline community as former board member at NESS (New England Science and Sailing) and as a member of Ocean Commotion Committee at Mystic Aquarium. Mark and his wife Suki have three children, Jack (20), Ellie (14), Lucy (12) who all volunteer at High Hopes.

Affiliation: The Williams School

Katherine Gibson

Katherine moved to Lyme four years ago with her husband, Andrew, and sons Will and John. Katherine’s career has been in marketing and communications, and she has held positions and freelanced for a variety of companies including Cuisinart, Gorham Silver, Envirosource, and the HB Group. She has also been active in community service, and was the founding director of the non¬-profit Scituate (RI) Farmer’s Market and a trustee of the North Scituate Library. The market became one of the largest farmer’s markets in RI, and awarded annual college scholarships for entrepreneurship and environmental science. During her tenure at the North Scituate Library, Katherine chaired the strategic planning committee and led communications and fundraising efforts for a building & expansion project. Katherine started volunteering at High Hopes soon after moving to Lyme and has co¬chaired the Holiday Market for 5 years. High Hopes was a natural fit for the mother of a son with dyspraxic cerebral palsy and a strong believer in the benefits of therapeutic riding. Education: Princeton University, AB 1985

Laura Giordano

Laura is a seasoned professional in the field of Human Resources with over 20 years of experience in the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industries. An independent consultant she has been with Pfizer and with Aetna Life and Casualty. She has an MBA from the University of New Haven and is certified in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment. Laura has been a member of the Human Resources Advisory Committee at High Hopes for several years. A lifelong horsewoman, she has five horses at her home and is familiar with the special needs of the ageing horse as several of hers are in their 20’s. Laura is a resident of Groton.

Affiliation – Independent Human Resources Consultant

Laurie LaTerza

Laurie was formally a Business Development Manager with the Software Solutions Innovation team at Cisco Systems. Prior to Cisco, she has held sales and marketing roles within AT&T, NCR, and Concord Communications. Her career has spanned multiple industries including Finance, Retail, Manufacturing and Education, as well as various technology transformations. She has been an active volunteer in both Massachusetts and Connecticut with various non-profit organizations. In addition, she volunteers within Cisco to support Women’s advancement in technology and Special Needs initiatives. Laurie holds a Master Degree in Marketing from Bentley University in Waltham, MA and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the University of Connecticut. She currently lives in Guilford, CT with her husband Todd and daughter Sofia. Sofia has participated in the High Hopes program for 6 years, providing Laurie and Todd a bird’s eye view of the incredible benefits received by participants.

Todd Machnik

Todd grew up in Old Lyme and attended Old Lyme High School. Todd received a Civil Engineering Degree from Vermont Technical College. He married his wife, Becky Machnik, in 1978 and has three sons: Tom, Kevin, and Peter. Todd is owner and President of Machnik Bros., Inc., established in 1957, general contractors specializing in site work, underground utilities, seawalls, bridge & dam repair. Todd has been a member of: the Old Lyme Fire Department since 1970 and has served as an officer for 10 years; Flood & Erosion Control Board for 20 years, 5 years as Chair; the Planning Commission as alternate for 5 years; Trustee of Essex Savings Bank; High Hopes Building & Grounds for 5 years, 2 years as Chair; Southeastern CT Youth Hockey Board and President for 5 years; St. Bernard Hockey Manager for 12 years; and course designer and builder for 5 years, along with Becky Machnik, for Lord Creek Horse Trails.

Affliation: Machnik Bros., Inc

Margaret (Mac) Mummert

Mac and her husband, Earl, are veterinarians and own four small animal practices. Her special interests include internal medicine and oncology. She has served in many area civic organizations including the Lyme Garden Club, Child and Family Agency and is a Past President of the SE Connecticut Professional Women’s Network. She serves on the Vestry of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, is a past DC of the Connecticut Valley Pony Club, and volunteers at High Hopes. Mac has two children, Brian and Anya. Anya has been a participant at High Hopes since she was five and, although she has her own horse, she still rides here weekly. Mac earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1977 from Auburn University and resides in Old Lyme.

Affiliation – Companion Animal Hospitals

Vicki Newton

Vicki has spent her 25 year professional career in marketing, communications and web-site development for Fortune 500 Companies. She received her BA from State University of New York after which she continued to study art with the Art Student’s League in NYC. Vicki has owned and worked with horses all her life and in 2000 she, her husband Matt, and son, Alex, moved to their horse farm in East Haddam. Vicki continues her work as a freelance artist specializing in portraits of animals and botanical studies.

Andrew L. Russell

Andy has had an extensive career in broadcasting since earning a degree in Communications Management from Ithaca College. He is VP and General Manager, Hall Communications, where he oversees day-to-day operations for six stations. Andy is active in a number of local organizations including serving as treasurer of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association, secretary and board member of the RCDC (Renaissance City Development Association) in New London, and chairman of the Old Lyme Board of Finance. Andy resides in Old Lyme with his wife Pamela. They have three grown children.

Affiliation – Hall Communications

Robin Schonberger

Robin is a retired, award-winning Art Director who worked for 25 years in the greater Hartford area advertising business, where she specialized in regional and national print and television marketing. She studied in Boston and received her BFA from Tufts University. Robin is active in community service and has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Hartford University Art School and Real Art Ways, and is co-administrator of the Schonberger 9/11 Fund at the Hartford Foundation For Public Giving. Robin has been volunteering at High Hopes for 10 years, most recently in the capacity of Gala Co-Chair, Auction Co-Chair and serving on the Finance/Development Committee. Robin is a published avid gardener and moved to Old Lyme in 2001.

Peter Watt

Peter is Vice President, Consumer Marketing at Outdoor Sportsman Group – Integrated Media, in New York, where he oversees all direct to consumer related lines of business, including subscription and single copy management, as well as retail merchandise. Outdoor Sportsman Group, a media company that publishes 15 outdoor enthusiast magazines, also owns two cable networks: Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Channel. Prior to working at OSG-IM, Peter held various consumer marketing positions at Times Mirror Magazines, The Atlantic and Audubon. In addition to his professional endeavors, Peter is President of the Board of Trustees of Morningside Montessori School in New York, and has served on various committees and was a side walker at High Hopes from 2008-2015. An avid reader, his book group has been meeting regularly for over 20 years. He and his husband, Gerard Cattie, live in New York and spend as much time as possible at their house in Lyme. They are the parents of two school age children, Louisa and Alec. A Larchmont, NY native, he is a graduate of Middlebury College, with a BA in English Literature.

Barbara Willkens

Barbara has worked at Millstone Power Station since 1990.  During her career at the nuclear power plant she has held senior management positons in Engineering, Construction, Supply Chain, and Organizational Effectiveness. She earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Tennessee and completed post graduate courses at M.I.T. Prior to joining High Hopes Barbara served on the Board of Directors at Big Brothers/Big Sisters and was a “big” for 10 years. She is still in close contact with her “little.” Barbara has been actively involved at High Hopes for over 6 years as a member of the Development Committee,  a co-chair of the Auction Committee for 3 years, and most recently as a co-chair  for the June Benefit. Barbara is an avid knitter, gardener, and chef.  Barbara and her husband Wilhelm enjoy traveling to his native home of Austria as well as travelling visit family and friend.  Barbara and Wilhelm live in Lyme with Rhodesian Ridgeback Jack.

Affiliation – Dominion

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What a night! – Moon Dance 2017

As the moon sets on this year’s benefit, it is time to reflect on a perfect summer’s evening, when nearly 600 of our friends and supporters joined High Hopes for our inimitable gala.

Over the years, this premier fundraising gala just gets better and better. We are delighted to announce that as of June 15th, we have had a record-breaking year!


We are truly grateful for your support. Due to your generosity High Hopes is now able to fund over 75% of the operating costs of our therapeutic programs and equine assisted activities. In addition to that, we are able to provide scholarships to ensure that no participant is turned away from the program, due to their family’s inability to pay the remaining 25%.

This event could not take place without all the help of our volunteers, corporate partners, table hosts, committee chairs, and of course our friends like you who purchased tickets. From our main event sponsors Northstar Wealth Management and Dominion Energy; to the beautiful graphic artwork kindly donated by the team at Julia Balfour. From the Old Lyme Fire & Ambulance staff who made sure we were safe; to Power Posse Productions who provided fabulous production and lighting. From Coffees Fine Catering and Taylor Rentals who made sure that we dined in style; to our community volunteers from Eversource and Liberty Bank who, quite literally, rolled out the carpet for us.

So many people came together to make this event a success that we cannot name them all here, but we would love you to visit our Corporate Sponsors and Restaurant Donors page and join us in thanking them with your patronage.

We must finish, by saying a very special thank you to Event Co-Chairs Robin Schonberger and Barbara Willkens.

The team at High Hopes

Click here to enjoy Melissa’s Story again

Please enjoy the gallery below and find many more photographs on our Flickr Page.

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EQliving Gold List … we have been nominated

EQuine Living Magazine has a worldwide audience who appreciate the best that the world of Equestrian Living can offer.

We are honored to have been nominated and recognized as one of the top 10 Therapeutic Riding Programs in the U.S. and one of the top 3 in the North East.

Now we need your help …


Our nomination is one thing, but if we are going to see EQLiving recognize the amazing programs that our Staff, Volunteers, Donors and Families provide, we need your VOTE!

The section is a little difficult to find, Therapeutic Program is under Best Place to Visit, two down from Best Charity or Rescue and one up from the Life with Horses section. You do not have to complete every section (although we are sure that our friends at EQuestrian Living would love it if you did).

We would also love you to share this on social media.

Click HERE to go to our facebook page and share with your friends and family.

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