50th Anniversary

Judy Lovelace

One day Judy received a phone call from Sis Gould, someone Judy had never met, who said “I understand that you like horses. Would you be interested in volunteering in a new program?” This program was started in 1974 with Betty Green’s special education class at Essex Elementary School. Judy’s reply was “sign me up” and that’s how she became the first volunteer. The program was called Lower Connecticut Valley Educational Riding Association (LCVERA, now known as High Hopes). Eventually, Judy’s den became the office for LCVERA, and her VW bus became was used to shuttle equipment for the nomadic program.

With ten volunteers and eight participants the program operated on a shoestring. For example in 1978 Judy initiated a three week summer program, shuttling equipment to different sites in her VW bus. The following year there wasn’t enough money for gas to get to venues, and the program had to be suspended.

Judy’s enthusiasm, organizational skills, knowledge of people, and job experience were a good fit and in 1984 she became the first acting executive director.

As executive director, in 1989 Judy felt that the organization reached a point where it was time to stop being nomadic and find a permanent home. Together with Sis and Lytt Gould, and her husband Jeffrey, they stood on a hill in Old Lyme, looked down at a beautiful parcel of undeveloped land, and said “this is the place.” That decision led to the creation of the current facility, that enabled growth and recognition as one of the premier therapeutic riding centers in the country.

Credit: Thank you to David Lamer for the beautiful interview video footage of some of our founders and individuals we will be featuring this year on our social and on YouTube.

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