Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center Serving all individuals with unique abilities and health needs

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A Busy Spring at Ivy Hill!

A Busy Spring at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center

Though the spring weather was slow to arrive this year, things were not slow at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.  As March became April and then May, Ivy Hill was busy with a number of annual events.

Ivy Hill’s first event was their 12th Annual Silent Auction and Silent Auction 2018Dinner, which took place on Saturday March 31st, at Lansdale’s beautiful Pinecrest Country Club.  The silent auction drew a lot of attention with five different tables broken down into separate areas of interest and filled with tempting items.

The five tables included Art and Photography, Something for Everyone, Wine and Beer, Sports and Outdoors and the popular Date Night Table.  The silence disappeared as the live auction turned from lively competition to bidding wars for some very popular items.  The biggest battle ensued over a “behind-the-scenes” Washington, DC Capitol Tour with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.

As the dust settled from the auction and guests finished their meals while being serenaded by the acoustic strings of Jamie Stem, we were all reminded of why we were there.  A member of Will Lavery’s family shared some stories of Will’s experience as an Ivy Hill rider and what therapeutic riding has meant to Will and his whole family.  Suellen Hanks took the floor next and gave a powerful and moving talk about the unexpected benefits of being a volunteer at Ivy Hill.

We will be back again next year for another evening of food and drink, sharing of stories from Ivy Hill and a chance for people to have another crack at a winning auction bid

Next up was the 4th Annual Kentucky Derby Gala, “Horse, Hats and Hope held at Ivy Hill on Derby Day, May 5th.  As guests enjoyed live music by Tori Roberts, our first annual chili cook-off was launched and made even better with fresh Mint Juleps.  Other events included the Annual “Best Hat” and “Best Bow-Tie” contests and the ever-popular goat races – though goat coaxing might be a more accurate description.   This was all leading up to the premier event – where Justify won the 144th Run for the Roses live from Churchill Downs and viewed on a large screen television, which was set up inside Ivy Hill’s beautiful indoor arena.

Proceeds from both events will benefit the care of Ivy Hill’s horses, as well as, the therapeutic riding programs that enhance the lives of individuals with physical, social, educational and/or psychological challenges.

Ivy Hill’s Spring Home Horse Show, was the third event of the spring and the  first of two such events held each year in the spring and fall.  Riders displayed their skills of horsemanship, equitation, dressage and trail classes while interested family members and spectators gathered to watch and cheer them on.  Winners received ribbons and the chance to share what they have accomplished with friends and family.  The chance to participate in a horse show on HorseShow2018home turf will come in handy as we set our sights on shows later in the year.

Visit Ivy Hill’s website at www.ivyhillequestrian.org.



Ivy Hill’s Triple Crown!

Ivy Hill has its own version of Triple Crown events every spring with three important horse shows.

May and June are always exciting for horse lovers but the excitement is really building this spring wondering if we’ll have a new Triple Crown winner on June 9th.  If Justify wins, he will be only the 13th horse to accomplish this feat!  The Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center will be watching and cheering along with everyone else as the 10 horse field steps foot on the track at Belmont Park this Saturday.

Ivy Hill has its own version of Triple Crown events every spring with three important horse shows.  The Thorncroft and Devon shows were held on May 26th and 27th, allowing just a few days before heading off to the Special Olympics at Penn State University.  This presents a rigorous schedule for Ivy Hill’s riders, instructors, volunteers and horses, but they take it all in stride.

The Thorncroft Horse Show was the first leg of our “Triple Crown” series of horse shows.

Ivy Hill took 16 riders and 5 horses to the Thorncroft Show in Malvern, PA where they represented Ivy Hill well. Luckily, there was plenty of room to bring home the many prizes won throughout the 5ThorncroftTrophySml (002)day including 40 ribbons by various riders.  Additionally, Abby Mains brought home the Thorncroft Perpetual Trophy, which was sponsored by Patrick and Michele Boova.  This trophy is awarded to the rider with the highest combined score in walk/trot classes of Equitation, Dressage and Trail in Division III.  The trophy was presented the following day, May 27th at the Devon Horse Show and qualifies her for entry in the National Horse Show later this year.

Fiona Hough was the Reserve Winner for the Thorncroft Trophy and Riley Powell was the Reserve Winner for the MacDermott Trophy.  The MacDermott Perpetual Trophy is sponsored by the MacDermott children and is awarded to the rider with the highest combined score in walk trot or walk trot canter Equitation, Trail, and Dressage in Division II.

39th Annual Therapeutic Riders’ Division of the Devon Horse Show

Held May 27th and sponsored by Brushwood Stables, the prestigious Therapeutic Riders’ Division of the Devon Horse Show brings together 175 riders with special needs to compete in a variety of classes including equitation, dressage, and trail. The weekend HorseShow2018culminates with the award ceremonies for the championship classes, on Memorial Day Sunday, at the famous Devon Horse Show Grounds.  Abby Mains and her mount, Heidi, competed for the Grand Champion of the show, the Hope Montgomery Scott Perpetual Memorial Trophy.

On to State College, Pennsylvania for the Special Olympics

The Special Olympic Games were held May 31st  – June 2nd, and were hosted by Penn State University, where 83 riders and 21 horses, represented 11 different counties in Pennsylvania.

Ivy Hill made the drive from Perkasie to State College with 18 riders, 5 horses, 14 horse handlers, chaperones and coaches so they could participate in 49 different events.  They brought home 9 Gold medals, 9 Silver medals, 11 Bronze medals, and eight 4th place , seven 5th place, four 6th place, and one 7th place ribbons.

It is always nice to bring home a prize but what the riders bring home in their hearts is much more important.   One such story is told in a note sent by a competitor’s mother to Ivy Hill staff following the trip to Penn State.

“I just wanted to thank you and all of your staff and volunteers for all of your hard work putting together and running Special Olympics.  Marcus really enjoyed the weekend.  He was very proud of his accomplishments, he made some friends (he told me his roommate Jonathan is hilarious) and he enjoyed having some independence.  I asked him if he wants to do it again next year and he said ‘Definitely!’”  Ivy Hill really is a special place and I’m so glad that Marcus has found something that he enjoys doing and wants to get better at.  Thank you so much – you guys are amazing!!!!

A letter from Justin Miller’s family following the Special Olympics experience echoes similar comments.

Justin had such an amazing time!  Thank you also for your patience with all my questions and concerns!  Ivy Hill is the most amazing place with the kindest and most helpful people.  His instructor is absolutely amazing and her time and dedication with Justin have been an absolute blessing!!!  And you were right about Dante and Tyler, Justin loved them — he said he now has friends!!!  Makes a mom’s heart happy!!  He says he can’t wait until next year!

So again, thank you!  Love, The Miller’s

Ivy Hill really is a special place for the riders and their families but it’s also special for the people who work there.  We are lucky at Ivy Hill to have a dedicated group of volunteers who give selflessly of their time so that we can help create memories and make dreams come true.  Molla, a volunteer who accompanied the group for the Special Olympics, summed it up –

The self confidence and joy I saw with your riders touched me deeply. To have been the leader during the last event when Evie took gold made me cry. I think I grew from this experience as much as your riders.”

As the Ivy Hill riders, horses, volunteers, instructors, families and friends return home, they will get some well-deserved rest after a busy few weeks.  Many will be watching Justify in his bid for the Triple Crown and it will be a thrill if he wins but if he doesn’t, they know there are more important things than winning.  Trying hard, cheering for your friends, offering words of encouragement and coming back tomorrow or next week or next year to try again is what they’ve learned. “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Since 1999, Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center has been providing equine-assisted activities and therapies for special needs children and adults in Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh and Philadelphia counties.

The mission of Ivy Hill Foundation is to utilize the equine experience in building pathways for personal growth, in strengthening supporting relationships and in broadening community involvement for individuals with special needs. To sponsor a horse or a rider, to make a donation or for more information, visit our website at www.ivyhillequestrian.org.

The Acelity Foundation Sponsors Children With Cancer for Summer Camp!

The Acelity Foundation has awarded $5,000 to Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center allowing children diagnosed with cancer to attend the 2018 Ride-A-Stride for Hope Summer Camp.

Because of a $5,000 grant from the Acelity Foundation (formerly Servant’s Heart), twelve children will be able to spend a week of fun at the Ride-A-Stride for Hope Summer Camp at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Perkasie, PA.   For six weeks each summer, Ivy Hill’s Inclusion Summer Camp provides a unique, integrated experience for children of all levels of ability and development to learn horsemanship and riding skills.

One of these weeks is dedicated to children who have been diagnosed with cancer.  The camp provides a rare, non-clinical environment for the children and their families to escape their normal routine by offering a safe environment of peace, solace and relief of stress.

The children will attend the weeklong camp where they will learn how to care for a horse and build riding skills.  Other activities will include games for building social skills, using their creativity while making tie-dye shirts and playing games to promote team-building.  Other highlights will include an ice cream social, a carriage drive, a therapy dog visit and a horse show.

The camp will be held August 6 – 10, 2018 at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center, which is located at 1811 Mill Road in Perkasie, PA.

Wellspring Clubhouse and Ivy Hill Celebrate Member Achievements

The Penn Foundation’s Wellspring Clubhouse celebrated 20 years of member employment with dinner and an evening of recognition held at the Calvary Church of Souderton on May 17th, 2018.

Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center is one of several community employers providing Transitional Employment (TE) opportunities for Clubhouse members.  These 6-9 month positions offer a high level of support including training, coverage and ongoing support from Wellspring Clubhouse staff.  At the end of the placement period, members may choose to try another TE position or move forward to a supported employment position with guidance from Clubhouse staff.WellspringWeb

Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center was recognized for their commitment to providing employment for two Clubhouse members: Valerie Usner and Timothy Kinsey.

Valerie was one of the Wellspring Clubhouse members selected to speak during the evening’s program.  She shared her inspirational story of being able to recover from an abusive work environment.  With support of the Wellspring Clubhouse program and the safe work environment provided by Ivy Hill, she was able to rebuild her confidence and trust, return to a job, and find joy.

Valerie shared part of her experience with dinner guests – “At Ivy Hill, they showed me that I could work without being afraid in the work world. They were nice, kind people and fun to work for.  If I needed help, they would be there for me.  It was a pleasant experience in the work world.”

Ivy Hill is happy to have another Wellspring member in their employment now.  Timothy Kinsey has been part of Ivy Hill since March.  He is already building confidence that will help him in going back to work and returning to school.  Tim described the importance of a safe environment such as Ivy Hill, “Ivy Hill stressed to me that I should work at my own pace – without pressure. I believe in this work 100% and if I ever have a million dollars, I’d give it all to Ivy Hill.

Tim has watched others benefit from the Ivy Hill environment, including his stepdaughter, who participates in one of the Ivy Hill riding programs. He has noticed her improved confidence, enjoyment and smiles.  Through Tim’s involvement with Ivy Hill, he has gained the financial stability to return to school and now has plans to become a pastor or counselor.  He also said that he would like to volunteer at Ivy Hill in the future.

Wellspring Clubhouse is part of the Penn Foundation and is accredited by the Clubhouse International network.  Clubhouses are organized as a support system for people dealing with mental health challenges.  Wellspring offers a place where Clubhouse staff and its members work together as colleagues to not only run the program but to build the skills, confidence and relationships that will promote recovery, instill hope and regain control of their lives.

Pearl S Buck International Festival of Trees

Last month, Ivy Hill Foundation, Inc. formed a team to create a holiday display for the Pearl S. Buck International Festival of Trees in Perkasie.   Community organizations from all over Bucks County were invited to design and create displays that told their story and represented their Mission.

Ivy Hill_First Place Award 2017 (002)Our team connected our Mission and stories to Pearl S, Buck’s personal story of a disabled daughter (The Child Who Never Grew), and her love for the challenged, the less fortunate, and the horses she once owned.

Combining Ivy Hill’s “Horses + Love = Hope” with Miss Buck’s sentiment, “Hope Brings Comfort,” the Ivy Hill Team transformed Pearl S Buck TreeMiss Buck’s bedroom into a compelling exhibit of the Ivy Hill Mission.    Congratulations and thanks once again to the team of:   M Grace Emmell Leister, Chris Brockett, Sarah Youngstrand, Rick Poole, Bud Leister, John Cochrane, Howard Peters-Strickland, and Questers Gaudy Chapter #270 members Donna Cochran and Anita Lamond for creating the design and quilts that brought us this recognition.

Ivy Hill Receives Grant from Foundations Community Partnership

Foundations PERKASIE, PA – Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center, located at 1811 Mill Road in Perkasie was awarded a $10,000 Capital Improvement Grant for the installation of a Sure-Hands Body Support Lift from Foundations Community Partnership. The award was presented by FCP Executive Director Ron Bernstein on December 13, 2017.

The Sure-Hands Body Support Lift, which will be mounted in the indoor arena on Ivy Hill’s  ADA-compliant mounting ramp, will provide a safe and secure way for immobile and mobility-impaired riders to be mounted and unmounted on the back of a therapy horse without the fear or danger of injury to rider, horse or staff.

“The Sure Hands Lift that this grant from Foundations Community Partnership will help us purchase will allow us to introduce the most physically challenged individuals in our communities to the benefits of equine therapies and expand the reach of our programs for those individuals” said Chris Brockett, Ivy Hill Foundation, Inc. President and CEO.

“It is both the industry standard for performance and safety, and is built specifically with the need of the immobilized or mobility-impaired rider in mind,” Brockett added.

Program Director Megan Hance explained that as a therapeutic equine program and community center, it is imperative that all clients, visitors, employees and volunteers have total access to use of Ivy Hill’s  facility and our horses.

“Nowhere is this more important than in the service of our most challenged community members” said Hance.

” The installation of a Sure Hands Body Support Lift removes the threat of injury and overcomes the physical barriers that create exclusion and limit inclusive participation”  continued Hance.

Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center’s riders include those individuals with diagnoses of autism, epilepsy, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury, traumatic accident, stroke and genetic birth defects, and serves vulnerable populations of seniors, women, children and veterans. Ivy Hill’s Mission is to create therapeutic programs for individuals with cognitive, physical, emotional, behavioral and psychological needs utilizing the equine experience.

To support the programs at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center, to volunteer, sponsor a horse or a rider, make a donation or for more information, please visit www.ivyhillequestrian.org, email Program Director Megan Hance at mstrychowski@ivyhillequestrian.org, or call 215-822-2515.

Foundations Community Partnership

Executive Director Ron Bernstein presents grant check at Ivy Hill with Valerie Usner of Wellspring Clubhouse,  Jonathan Ryan of Bucks County Intermediate Unit  and Grace Emmell Leister, Board of Directors, Ivy Hill Foundation, Inc.

A Tree Shines at Pearl S Buck

A Tree Shines at Pearl S. Buck

From November 15th  through December 30th, the Ivy Hill Foundation, Inc. has the unique Pearl S Buck Treeopportunity to participate in a  historic Bucks County holiday tradition, the Pearl S. Buck Festival of Trees. The event showcases beautiful trees and vignettes designed and decorated by some of Bucks County’s best artists and decorators as well as by local community groups to convey the spirit of Pearl S. Buck’s legacy as an activist, humanitarian and author. Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center created their holiday presentation in Miss Buck’s bedroom, and joined Ivy Hill’s theme Horses + Love = Hope with Miss Buck’s quote “Hope Brings Comfort.”  Led by Ivy Hill Board of Director member and Quester Grace Emmell-Leister, the room pays tribute Pearl S Buck Bedroomto the horses and riders of Ivy Hill, as well as Miss Buck’s specia- needs daughter. “The idea for the room’s design was based on The Child Who Never Grew, Miss Buck’s personal story about her daughter” said Emmell-Leister. “I must say that we have captured the essence of what Pearl Buck was about, and I find it unique that we are in the inner sanction of her bedroom”  continued Emmell-Leister.  “The equestrian theme is justified because her children had equines on that property, and there are two pictures of her children in our room.” Throughout the room, quotes from Miss Buck’s  writings on handcrafted signs created by Ivy Hill Instructor Sarah Mantle Pearl S BuckYoungstrand are displayed that touch an emotional chord. Questers Gaudy Chapter #270 members Donna Cochran and Anita Lamond created a warm and personal design that includes two quilts handmade by Cochran, a winter village and train layout done by Rick Pool, and an equestrian-themed Christmas tree and decorations done by Chris Brockett, Bud Leister, John Cochrane and Howard Peters-Strickland.  During the Festival of the Trees,  about 2000 visitors will visit the Pearl S. Buck estate, located at 520 Dublin Pike in Perkasie, and vote for their favorite room. Please encourage your family and friends to see the wonderful work of all the decorators. Once again, thank you to Grace, Chris, Donna and John, Anita, Bud, Howard, Rick, and Sara.

Making Ivy Hill Greener


The Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center is in the middle of a new project to make the facility more sustainable and environmentally friendly.  It is called “Making Ivy Hill Greener.”   In December 2016, Ivy Hill started a recycling program, manure composting and rainwater collection.  In the future, Ivy Hill has plans to construct a Horticultural Therapy Garden using raised beds for Square Foot Gardening, which will provide easy access for the handicapped and another way to utilize the composted manure and collected rainwater. This therapeutic garden will complement the thriving equine assisted therapy program.

At Ivy Hill, our clients and horses are our top priority, and thus we want to develop an environmentally friendly facility. We have found three ways to help us achieve our goal of creating a positive environmental impact. This three- pronged approach includes manure management, water conservation and environmental education.

In addition to using a manure pickup service, Ivy Hill started composting our equine partners’  droppings.   Active Composting Manure has many benefits–fewer green-house gases are released from manure; it is more cost-effective than manure pickup,  finished compost can be spread on Ivy Hill facility gardens and pastures  and extra compost can be sold to landscaping companies to fundraise for current programs/horse care.

Currently, Ivy Hill uses an onsite well for all water needs. Wells can “dry-up” meaning that a new well must be dug deeper or in another area to reach more groundwater. This process is very expensive, so to reduce our dependency on the well, we have installed a rain water collection system. This new addition will allow us to water the indoor riding arena weekly, as well as the extensive landscaping.  It should be noted that water used for bathrooms and drinking water will continue to be sourced from the well.

Environmental education opportunities will flourish in a rich, hands on program at Ivy Hill. The water from the collection tank and finished compost will be used for an on-site vegetable and flower garden. Some of the many benefits of involving clients in the care of a vegetable/flower garden at the facility include fostering teamwork and leadership skills by working together to take care of a common garden, cultivating an appreciation for nature and living things and practicing fine and gross motor skills through watering, weeding and pruning.

Those working on “Making Ivy Hill Greener”  project include Chris Brockett, Grace Emmell Leister, Marissa Cubbage and Brad Walters and his family, who own Green Works Farm, as well as the Master Gardeners of Montgomery County. A junior at Juniata College studying Environmental Science and a summer intern at Ivy Hill, Marissa Cubbage is very involved in this project. She says, “Like any facility of its size, Ivy Hill has an environmental impact. Manure and rainwater management are complicated issues that need site-specific attention.  I am so glad to be a part of tackling this issue at an equestrian center where so many lives are positively affected.”

Board of Directors member Grace Emmell Leister has always been interested in the environment. She hopes that this will help to make Ivy Hill more sustainable through the cost savings associated with manure removal and the rain water collection to conserve that natural resource. Emmell Leister, an educator for over 30 years, loves to help today’s young people build their resumes. This project provides Marrisa Cubbage with actual school-to-work experience at the same time “Making Ivy Hill Greener.”

President and CEO Chris Brockett explained ” you broadly interpret our mission at Ivy Hill, we work to make life better while helping people with their challenges.This project continues our mission in some new and exciting ways.”

Volunteers and donors can help with our project in the following ways:

  • Donate materials for composting system or garden
  • Water and weed garden
  • Sell or purchase garden produce
  • Bag or purchase finished compost
  • Check and record daily temperature of active compost

If you have questions or would like to help with this project, please contact  Grace Emmell Leister at m_gel@comcast.net or Marissa Cubbage at marissacubb@gmail.com.