Inside the Equus Effect

at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center

January 6-8, 2018

Equus Effect Co-founders, David Sonatore, LCSW and Jane Strong, ESMHL, are offering their course for ESMHL Professionals, Therapeutic Riding Instructors, EFP practitioners and men and women with an interest in learning more about mental and emotional resilience.

They believe that in order to serve veterans, people in recovery and men and women who have endured various forms of physical and emotional trauma in their lives, it is essential for prospective practitioners to experience this work for themselves. As they like to say, “You need to live it, to give it.”

Toward this end, they  are offering a three-day introductory course called “Inside The Equus Effect” that will give participants first hand experience with this sophisticated, structured and comprehensive program designed to help clients build successful and authentic relationships that provide the foundations they need to succeed and find satisfaction in life at home and in their communities.


The course includes:

–    Why Horses? – An introduction to the Wisdom of the Prey

  • Somatic Experiencing Tools – for self regulation, self management and emotional resilience
  • Teachable exercises based on Natural Horsemanship Techniques
  • Emotional Agility – a didactic, emotional management piece based on the work of Karla McLaren and Linda Kohanov (Founder at Eponaquest and author of The Tao of Equus, Riding Between the Worlds and The Power of the Herd)
  • Experiential Learning around our four principles – Resonance, Connection, Collaboration and Resilience — through our take-home-tools.

Inside The Equus Effect is intended to stand on it’s own for personal development, as well as to be a pre-requisite for participation in The Equus Effect Training program.  This next phase is intended for ESMHL graduates, counselors in the mental health field and to others who wish to work with veterans, residents at treatment facilities and others in transition (i.e. at-risk youth, cancer survivors, etc.)


Logistics- Cost- Timing

This course is open to 20 participants and will be held at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center

Course dates:  January 6-8, 2018  from 10 AM- 5-PM

Cost:  $750/person


Through this prerequisite course for The Equus Effect Facilitator Training, participants will learn whether or not they wish to/are ready for work with these populations in a sophisticated, successful and effective curriculum that works.

Note:  In 2013, they saw 21 veterans.  As of 2017, they have worked with over 200 and have contracts with two treatment centers in CT.  They  are now delivering the same curriculum in Old Lyme, CT, MA, NY, MD and Denmark.

For more information

For more information and for workshop format & schedule, please visit: or call:  Jane Strong at:  860-364-5363

To find out more about The Equus Effect

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ASADA to benefit High Hopes

For the 2017 Gala Moondance Silent Auction, Trustee Scott Douglas & his wife Wendy, kindly offered to host an authentic asada – a barbecue that typically takes place after a polo match.

The evening asada was preceded by drinks and canapés at Scott & Wendy’s bucolic property, during which their guests enjoyed a talk and demonstration of some of the intricacies of the age old game of polo.

Scott was joined by mentor and friend Gaston Rodriguez. Argentina’s Gaston Rodriguez is a respected member of the polo community, teacher of the sport, and innovator behind the development of polo programs throughout the world that cater to novices as well as seasoned professionals. It was a real family affair, as Gaston’s cousin Luis manned the grill.

It was a perfect, late September evening and Indigo Soul entertained with their repertoire of R&B, soul and light pop. The band featured Carol Piro on lead vocals and shakers, Jeremy Coster on bass and Steve Fava on percussion and supporting vocals.

A very special thank you to Scott and Wendy for opening up their wonderful home. Thanks also to all who bid on this spectacular silent auction item. Your support allows High Hopes to provide equine assisted programs every day,  for adults and children with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. We hope that you had an evening to remember and enjoy seeing the photographs. To see more photos and download your favorites in full resolution please click HERE:






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Supporter Appreciation Night

Last night we were delighted to welcome a group of our supporters and sponsors to High Hopes.

Our evening’s main sponsor – Thank You!


During the evening our friends watched a demonstration by one of our riders, and beneficiaries of the High Hopes Program, Andrea.

This is Andrea’s Story

As told by Andrea’s mom, Irene

Andrea has been attending High Hopes since she started pre-school. Andrea could not speak when she started attending; she only signed basic sign language. High Hopes instructors and Andrea’s teachers in the Lyme-Old Lyme School System set a goal of strengthening her core body system to enable her to speak more clearly. The first week after she attended High Hopes, her sister Elise asked her if she was excited to see and ride the horses. Andrea said the word “whoa,” and both her sister and I cried with joy. Andrea also brought word cards to class and they were practiced while attending her riding lesson. Andrea arrives early for her lessons and brings her school work to study. She has even enlisted some of the college students at High Hopes to listen, as she practices her reading. Andrea has strengthened her friendships with her peers, specifically Peter, a boy the same age who has Down’s Syndrome. Peter and Andrea have been attending High Hopes together, and will finally join each other in the same middle school next year at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

Andrea’s family cannot say enough about the program that she participates in, or the other benefits of therapeutic horse riding.

If Andrea’s progress was not obvious enough … following the demonstration,
Andrea even held a Q&A session with our friends!


Check out the Gallery – if you would like a full resolution copy of any of these photographs, please do not hesitate to contact Communications Manager Sarah Crisp at High Hopes or check-out the gallery on Flickr.




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“Live with positivity & generosity”

We are so proud to be able to call these inspirational boys and their amazing parents, part of the High Hopes family. Check out Sarah Cody’s “mommy minute” video about how the Scotella family are raising money for Smilow Cancer Hospital through their “Bottle It Up!” campaign.

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WIN a Jeep for $50

The 2017 High Hopes Car Raffle is for a 2017 Jeep Wrangler 4×4 Sport in conjunction with Valenti AutoMall

Buy a ticket for $50 and drive away from the 2017 Holiday Market ready for (almost) anything a Connecticut winter can throw at you – or dream of off-road adventures with the soft top down in the summer!

To purchase a ticket call Karena Garrity at 860.434.1974 x 119







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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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Amidst glorious sunshine, the band played, the feast was fantastic, and the smiles were endless, as the High Hopes family gathered to honor participants and volunteers who have gone “above and beyond” this year.

“Our Annual Celebration is a great opportunity to share everything that is High Hopes. It gives us a chance to  recognize a few individuals each year, within a whole family of extraordinary people.” said Kitty Stalsburg, Executive Director. “We would like to give a particular shout-out to Chester’s BBQ for supporting us with their wonderful food, and to recognize Plywood Cowboy for generously donating their music; a band who each have very strong connections with High Hopes.

See all the photographs on Flickr

All photographs credit: Cole Sargent and copyright High Hopes TR.


1000 hour volunteers:

Volunteers are the lifeblood of High Hopes and we wanted to take a moment to recognize some very special volunteers; those that have each donated over 1000 hours of their time to our mission.

Annie Bolduc, Suzie Bolduc, Cyndie Doocy, Steve Mazeau, Donna Perry, Cole Sargent, Karen Siemon, Judith Cohen and Rob Shiely.

Paul Burkarth Rider of the Year Award:

Paul Burkarth Rider of the Year Award

This award was established in memory of Paul Burkarth in 1985 and is presented annually to the rider who has shown significant progress during the past year.

Awarded to: Peter Castelli of Madison. 

Peter has been a participant for over 26 years, most recently in the carriage driving program.

Peter has made continual progress in independent driving, and has a special bond with his instructors and volunteers.

Patrick Moreno Sportsmanship Award:

This award was established in memory of Patrick Moreno in 1993 by Sis Gould.   When Patrick was no longer able to ride, Sis initiated carriage driving at High Hopes, specifically for Patrick, by importing a carriage from England which could accommodate his wheelchair.  This annual award is given to the rider who shows outstanding sportsmanship, consideration of others, and encouragement to his or her fellow riders, exemplifying Patrick’s way of helping others, never giving in to adversity.

Awarded to: Kristin Steele of Essex.

Kristen has been riding since 2005 (12 years).

Kristin participates with her school group from John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River, part of the Region 4 School system, which has a long history of program collaboration with High Hopes.

Kristen is always smiling and laughing and is fully engaged with all of our volunteers and her peers.

Nancy Cash Program Volunteer of the Year:

Awarded to a person who, like Nancy, is dedicated and dependable, always willing to “go the extra mile” and willing to make her volunteerism at High Hopes a priority in her life.  This award, established in 2006, is dedicated to Nancy, honoring another volunteer who shares her positive attitude and her unwavering commitment to helping our riders achieve their personal best. 

Awarded to: Kathy DiLullo of East Lyme,  has been a volunteer since 2013.  Kathy has over 800 hours of volunteering in many roles, including side-walker, leader, barn and in the office.

She is a versatile volunteer who is always excited to learn new roles.  In additional to being a dedicated, reliable volunteer, Kathy exemplifies High Hopes values, especially in her positive, welcoming presence to all.

Sally Aubrey Award:

In 1998, Stever Aubrey, established this award in honor of Sally his wife. In doing so, he donated his artisan’s work of a remarkable bronze sculpture of a mare and foal that is displayed in the High Hopes entry way. This award is given to someone selected by the board and staff who exemplifies the true spirit of High Hopes through commitment, dedication and compassion.

Awarded to: Sarah Hill Canning of Stonington

Sarah and her husband Peter live in Stonington, with their two daughters, Kate and Martha. She has volunteered at High Hopes since 2003 – most recently in the carriage driving program. She served on the Board for 10 years from 2007-16 and was scribe for the Board for several years. She is a past Chair of the Volunteer Committee, and has served tirelessly on the June Benefit “Symphony”, Governance and Development Committees. It is Sarah’s depth of commitment, and her embodiment of the Spirit of High Hopes, which make her this year’s recipient.

Barn Volunteer of the Year:

Awarded to: Cyndie Doocy of Colchester.

Cyndie has been a steady constant at High Hopes for almost a decade. She is  a level 3 horse handler and a driving header, so is  real asset at all levels of program.

But it is for her work in the Barn that she was nominated for this award. She has been a steady and reliable feeder on Friday mornings as well as helping out in program as a Side-walker and picking up substitute spots when available.

Cyndie is very reliable and consistent, and arrives every week ready to feed and help out with the herd. She is a self-starter and likes to get the job done … and done well!

Office Volunteer of the Year:

Awarded to: Sandie Woodford of Old Saybrook

Sandie’s super warm, welcoming personality is representative of all of our values. “As we celebrate Sandie’s year anniversary with High Hopes, we would like to recognize the impact that she has had on High Hopes in that time.” Sandie has been working at the front desk for the past year, getting to know participants, helping out with office tasks and foremost being a positive and happy front desk volunteer to greet participants, families and guests. Sandie is memorable because of her kindness and ability to remember the smallest things with each visitor, participant and staff member. When Sandie is not here, many of the regular participants ask about her, wondering where she is because she works to form connections with each individual. Sandie is also more than happy to share her daughter Abbie with us, driving her here when needed and picking up extra shifts at the front desk when needed. “She has truly been an asset to have here at High Hopes and we look forward to her continued volunteerism.”

Special Award:

Awarded to: Joanne Clark of Madison.

The Program Team at High Hopes also gave a very special award to Joanne Clark.

When Program needed to update their antiquated database, the task was daunting, but necessary to reflect the growing range of services and numbers of participants and volunteers here at High Hopes. Long time volunteer Joanne Clark “jumped straight in.” As well as volunteering as a side-walker and leader, this year she has volunteered a huge number of hours to re-organizing the High Hopes database. This work has improved accuracy and efficiency for everyone!

Davison Youth Volunteer of the Year:

In honor of Jane Davison, who passed in 2016, this award recognizes a young volunteer who demonstrates the true volunteer spirit.

Awarded to: Olivia DeCapua, of Old Saybrook.

Olivia has grown into her volunteer role after starting at young age. She is bright and mature and a strong horsewoman.

“Not only is Olivia a reliable, welcome face on her scheduled volunteer shifts, she often substitutes for volunteers unable to make their slot. Olivia makes a real connection with each horse and rider she works with.”


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Horses love Vet Kids

Thanks to the generosity of the Thompson Family Foundation, High Hopes was able to offer a new program this summer, especially for the children of veterans and service members and it was a huge success!

Children of veterans are a population generally underserved by traditional veterans programs, which tend to focus more on the service member and their spouse or partner. We wanted to create a program that focussed on character building, emotional regulation, team building and communications. While some of the participants had ridden before; none had experienced the learning, confidence building and self-esteem that can come from caring for and working with a horse in the barn.

The bond participants developed with their horses provided a low-key and trusting environment in which they could share their experiences of parents being deployed, or returning from deployment. All our participants and many parents commented on how important it was that everyone in the program “was in the same boat,” with shared experiences and shared emotions; something that is not the case in educational settings.

Crafts were designed to be taken home and shared with parents, in some cases resulting in conversations that had not previously been had. We also provided lots of photographs that could be sent to parents who were on deployment.

Within a few hours of promoting this program it was full and with a large waiting list. With the help of our supporters like you, High Hopes will continue to develop programs for what is clearly an unmet need.

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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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Annual Celebration

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

Click here to R.S.V.P.

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