Meet Nancy . . .

For Nancy, the therapeutic impact of her time at High Hopes goes far beyond the emotional effects of sharing herself with horses, gaining confidence and learning a new skill; it is felt physically, resonating throughout her entire body.

For the past 13 years, our horses have aided Nancy in reaching her goals of gaining critically needed body strength and control. She has ridden astride a horse, in the saddle, and happily reaped the benefits of that physical activity. Now, she has moved onto a different kind of horse intensive challenge, working with instructor Lauren Fitzgerald and our carriage horses Candy and Blessing. Nancy has acquired a new skill as a driver, utilizing the motion of this activity to strengthen her body by helping her to gain and increase her core strength through shifting her weight and making use of the rigid surface of the carriage to balance herself. Nancy has also been working hard on holding the reins for the entire lesson, a task she is making great advances with, while at the same time expanding her hand eye coordination and dexterity.

Resulting from the impact of motion,  Nancy has acquired a new skill as a driver, utilizing this activity to strengthen her body by helping her to gain and increase her core strength through shifting her weight and making use of the static surface of the carriage to balance herself.

Because of YOU,  we have the resources to meet Nancy’s ever changing physical and developmental challenges.

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Judith’s Story

Judith had always loved riding horses and caring for them. So much so that she owned her own horse and ran a barn for several years. After her second hip replacement at age 54, Judith said it nearly broke her heart when she found she could no longer ride due to limitations of motion and stiffness from arthritis.

Five years later, Judith contacted High Hopes Therapeutic Riding to ask if they could help her solve her problem and get her back on a horse.

Today Judith not only rides, she thrives! “I walk, trot and canter and I’m a better rider today than I was before my hip replacements,” she said. “My instructor Lauren pushes me and gets me to do things I never thought I could do. I believe one of the most respectful things you can do for someone with a disability is to treat them as if their learning is unlimited.”

The benefits of therapeutic riding have not only improved Judith’s balance, coordination and posture, it also has increased her self-confidence.

“I recently had some unexpected life changes that were devastating, and the staff and horses at High Hopes helped get me through the experience. I appreciate having had the opportunity to heal my spirit and can now return the kindness.”

When she’s not riding, Judith volunteers in the office or uses her artistic talent to create welcome signs for High Hopes visitors. And some days she brings horses from the paddock to the barn and grooms them. “To know that I’m entrusted to care for a High Hopes horse is something that’s very precious.”

You can read more about High Hopes and Judith in the March/April issue of Connecticut Horse Magazine.

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Read all about it! The High Hopes Rider is out! Winter 2017

The Winter 2017 Rider Newsletter is hot off the press.  Inside this edition, read all about it—A memorial to Janie Davison; Our Valentine Sweetheart, A profile on one of our sweetest in the herd, Candy; Time, Trust and the Truth of Matters focus on equine assisted therapy for victims of domestic violence; and Volunteer Spotlight on Nate and Zane–a father and son team at High Hopes!  Sit back, relax and enjoy the winter issue of RIDER!



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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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High Hopes Offers Riding Lessons to the Public

Learn2Ride Community Riding Lessons Winter Session !

Lessons begin week of November 28th and run for six consecutive weeks.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is offering riding lessons for community members who want to learn how to ride, brush up on old skills or try a new activity.  High Hopes instructors specialize in individualizing riding instruction in a safe and supportive environment. With a wide variety of breeds, riders are matched with the right member of the herd to meet their needs and ability.  Attendees can sign up for either riding or carriage driving lessons. There is a rider weight limit of 180 lbs. for safety of the horse and rider.

All lessons are offered at High Hopes’ 120-acre site at 36 Town Woods Road in Old Lyme, and are 45 minutes to one hour each, once a week, beginning November 28, 2016.

WINTER LESSON SERIES: beginning November 28, 2016

Lessons run for 6 consecutive weeks.   6 weeks- $360

Youth/Adolescents Group: Saturdays at 3:00pm

Adult Group: Tuesdays at 5:30pm

For more information, contact Sarah Carlson at, or 860-434-1974, ext. 115.





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#GivingTuesday is November 29, 2016

High Hopes is participating in this global day dedicated to giving.

We encourage you to use #GivingTuesday as an opportunity to help improve the lives of people with cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities through the benefits of therapeutic riding – right here in our community.

No matter the size of your gift, your generosity will help us reach even more individuals and have a greater impact on the lives of men, women and children, right here in Connecticut.

Join the worldwide #GivingTuesday movement and click here to make a difference in your community!

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Thank you High Hopes Volunteers!

Volunteers are the key to the good work High Hopes does bringing Therapeutic Horsemanship to those who need it the most.  We’d like to take a moment to show our appreciation for your service.  Your spirit and energy makes High Hopes a special place for one and all.  Click on the video below for a message just for you, our volunteers!

Congratulations to our 2015 Volunteer Award recipients!  They will be formally acknowledged at our Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 18th from 1p.m.-2p.m.  All volunteers are welcome to join us on Sunday for the meeting and for our Open Barn Day from 11a.m.-1p.m..


               Nancy Cash Program Volunteer of the Year:  Neil Mann

            With nearly 700 hours in the past seven years, Neil upholds the High Hopes values by consistently being welcoming and supportive of riders, volunteers, staff, and all those whom he encounters. In addition to regularly volunteering two days a week, he often substitutes in the riding program and regularly volunteers for special events. He’s the go-to guy for the Holiday Market raffle, putting his winning personality (and cowboy hat) to work selling tickets and promoting High Hopes to hundreds of guests.


                                 Office Volunteer of the Year:  Carol Colangeli

               Carol is long standing, dedicated volunteer who is a leader among the office volunteers. She is always willing to sub, often trains new volunteers and takes initiative with reception duties. Her personal experience with a grandchild who has special needs makes her very understanding of families coming to High Hopes. She relates to and advocates for participants and volunteers, helping to connect them to the staff or information they need. Carol communicates well, checking in on Mondays to share Saturday updates. Carol’s loyalty and welcoming personality make her a vital part of High Hopes.


Congratulations to volunteers who have reached 1,000 hours of service!

Sky Todd

Deb Welles

Daryl Hornby

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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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