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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

IVY HILL Therapeutic Equestrian Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal-Related, Animals, Equestrian, Health, Special Olympics, Sports, Voluntary Health Associations & Medical Disciplines

Mission: Our Mission Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center creates therapeutic programs for individuals with cognitive, physical, emotional, behavioral and psychological needs utilizing the equine experience. Our Vision To be the recognized standard bearer for professionalism, excellence, advocacy and sportsmanship in equine-assisted activities and therapies. Our Core Values Respect: We respect the dignity of every rider Hope: We believe in the value of hope Family: We support the importance of family Professionalism: We are committed to professionalism Compassion: We believe in compassionate service

Results: Since 1999, Ivy Hill has served every year over 400 individuals, families, and groups facing physical, social, behavioral, cognitive and psychological challenges. We have produced successful students and competitors, and are home to the first Olympic Champion in Bucks County and Eastern Pennsylvania. In the State of Pennsylvania, Ivy Hill has emerged as an organization that can be depended on to create innovative and collaborative programs to benefit the underserved and economically disadvantaged in our community. While other peer organizations have shied away from difficult social, behavioral and psychological issues, Ivy Hill has pressed forward to create positive and innovative programming for individuals with mental and behavioral health issues, addiction issues, end of life issues, and victims of domestic violence. Our practice is research and results-based, our organization is governed by a diverse Board of Directors and utilize best-practice standards of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, the National Association of Non-Profit Organizations and Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Organizations.

Target demographics: children and adults with disability, special need or life challenge.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 184 participants on out Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy programs, and an additional 300 Special Program participants.

Geographic areas served: Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh and Pennsylvania counties, PA

Programs: Equine therapy at Ivy Hill is a game changer. We have a passion for training riders in sportsmanship and equitation, and believe in the benefit of learning life lessons with the help of a little horsepower. Through our Therapeutic Riding Programs, our PATH-certified instructors motivate our riders utilizing the barn experience and the joy of the horse/human connection. The combination of grounded horsemanship skills and mounted riding lessons creates a challenge that inspires confidence, encourages independence and builds trust. Sessions are 30-50 minutes and can be scheduled for once a week or bi-weekly. Goals for riders may include increasing physical abilities, developing behavioral and communication skills, improving critical thinking skills and enhancing emotional well-being. All our riders have plans that are tailored to their specific needs and desired objectives. The Hippotherapy Program provides physical, occupational, or speech therapy that utilizes the three-dimensional movement and body warmth of a horse to deliver integrated treatment. Our licensed therapists work with clients in a controlled environment and modify the horse's movement while providing sensory input. All Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies take place at our state-of-the-art facility in Hilltown Township. In conjunction with collaborative partner organizations who seek to improve the quality of life for those disabled, disadvantaged and underserved in our surrounding counties, programs are created to address specific needs and produce specific objectives. This is done through the work of our Board of Directors, Program Director and Management Staff and their work in outreach and exploration of unfilled needs in our special populations, which are then planned, scheduled, made operational, and then evaluated for Mission-appropriateness, productive attainment of goals and program improvements. Ivy Hill's equestrian program is based on the guidelines of the Pennsylvania Council on Therapeutic Horsemanship. Our instructors are certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had an exceptional experience at Ivy Hill since I started working here in April of 2018 as the barn manager. The horses are all wonderful and have great temperaments. It is a beautiful thing to watch the way these patient and sweet horses interact with the riders, and the way the horses bring joy to everyone who interacts with them. Another thing that I appreciate about Ivy Hill is how inclusive it is. It is a place where anyone can come to feel safe and free of judgement, no matter what issues they may be working through. Ivy Hill is truly a place where you can go and see miracles happen right before your eyes.

Sincerely,
Kayley Erla

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Bucks County Intermediate Unit is very happy to be starting into the second year here at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center where many Bucks IU students have the opportunity to learn what it is like to have a volunteer work experience. These experiences in the past have helped greatly in leading to paid positions as students learn what work is about as a volunteer. They practice time management and learn specific skills that may help in gaining future employment. The many soft skills needed at all jobs are also put into practice here, getting to work on time, consistently, calling in if out sick which also leads to future success in the workplace. Thank you Ivy Hill for the opportunity here with our students!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi, my name is Stephanie Hamburger. I came to Ivy Hill as a volunteer in 2017 to help in my recovery from a traumatic brain injury that I had suffered in the summer of 2016. Little did I know that coming to Ivy Hill would change my life forever. When I first walked through the doors, I felt an immediate sense of belonging. Along with the staff, all of the horses have welcomed me into their family too. Here, at Ivy Hill, I have found a place where I feel loved and accepted, despite my limitations from my injury. As a result of my injury, I have had to adapt to a whole new life and during this process I had lost my sense of purpose. While volunteering, I have been able to create a completely new purpose for myself and my life. I have developed an entire new set of skills, goals, and aspirations for myself, which all include horses. Ivy Hill has helped reshape my life and has helped me find the courage to continue on in my journey called life.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Ivy Hill is the BEST! My daughter has been riding here since she was five years old and is now ten. The team at Ivy Hill was instrumental in strengthening Evie’s core which helped her to start walking sooner than she would have. My daughter has gained strength physically and emotionally as well since starting her lessons and we can’t imagine ever stopping! As a result of the training and support at Ivy Hill, Evie recently participated in the Pennsylvania Special Olympics and was awarded two Gold Medals! We are forever grateful to the staff at Ivy Hill and would highly recommend this facility..

Elle Brunswick- H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As teachers working with children most of our adult lives, my husband and I sought to combine our love of kids with an opportunity to make a difference in our community, and if possible, tie that in with our affinity for animals! We began volunteering at Ivy Hill in June of 2017. Our volunteer work with Ivy Hill in the therapeutic riding program proved to be so much more than just a perfect fit.

Ivy Hill has an amazing staff; passionate, professional and talented. It is a beautiful thing to witness the instructors not just teaching their riders skills, but interacting with them in a way which gives them authentic experiences in sportsmanship, access to challenging equestrian tasks and provides them with essential life skills.

Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to do their individual best in a supportive and compassionate atmosphere; yet there exists standards and expectations to follow and maintain. It’s difficult to imagine a more perfect inclusive therapeutic environment to build not only equestrian skills, but confidence, rigor and and self-esteem.

I can attest to this not only as a former special education teacher for 27 years, but as a new rider at Ivy Hill. I had a major fall in October of 2016 and suffered a traumatic brain injury and a spinal cord injury. After more than a year of various therapies and major surgery, I was cleared to ride. What better place to start over? My doctors agreed.

Although I had ridden Western as a child and into my twenties, I knew I would enjoy the transition to English riding. What did surprise me were the strides I would make in balance, strength, confidence and coordination so immediately. And those were just the physical results; my husband and I are thrilled with my newfound confidence, self-esteem and a decrease in my anxiety. So much so that we decided to increase my lessons to six lessons per month. My volunteering experience has now come full circle and I could not be more excited for the future with Ivy Hill.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a person who previously worked for 2 very successful non-profits, I welcomed the invitation to join the Board at Ivy Hill. After a period of being at home raising my children, I was pleased to be involved with an organization with a mission such as Ivy Hill and excited to rejoin the non-profit world. Of course, initially there was a period of sitting back to understand and grasp what the organization did and comprehend the operations. I am so pleased to say that this organization is as true as it initially appeared to me. This is a groups of committed people who are striving to enhance the lives of every person they work with through pure love and equine therapy. It has been privilege to be a part of such a kind and true charity. Observing the lessons and activities at Ivy Hill speaks for itself. I would encourage anyone reading this to schedule a visit and see for yourself. It will speak volumes!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Throughout the past fifteen years of my life, I have traveled to every corner of Bucks County riding at any and every barn, and Ivy Hill was practically famous in this county. I started out as a young girl with a dream: become an equestrian. I began riding at the age of seven, and I was fortunate enough to cultivate my passion for horses and helping people into a life-changing and extraordinarily rewarding career. After graduating with a degree in Psychology, I was hired here as a trainer and a Volunteer Coordinator. I can honestly describe this place as being one of a kind. Each student is viewed as an individual and they set their own goals, which allows each lesson to be tailored directly to them. The freedom our riders experience during their lessons is unmatched. I am fortunate enough to witness miracles happen and lives change day in and day out. The people I have met here are relentless in giving to others and I am constantly inspired by all of them. I wouldn't trade the friendships I have discovered and the lessons I have learned for the world. In simple terms, Ivy Hill truly is a Great Nonprofit.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I work at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Perkasie PA. I am the janitor. My duties include but not limited to cleaning the offices, viewing area, the conference room and the bathrooms. My schedule is Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 12pm.
I enjoy working there because the people I have met are friendly and supportive of me. The atmosphere is kind and friendly, we all work together to make the riding experience carefree and positive.
I have seen people improve their self-confidence, posture and strength. I have seen kids that never smile come in and smile while on the horse and after riding. I have also seen kids come running to get on their favorite horse and hug their assistances.
Ivy Hill makes you feel like family. Whether you are a currently working volunteering, riding or a past worker volunteer or rider you are welcomed with open arms.

Beth E.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Two of my children started riding at Ivy Hill this year. My daughter is blossoming at Ivy Hill right before my eyes. She is growing in confidence, gaining new critical thinking skills, and enjoying socialization in a safe and welcoming environment. I've truly never seen inclusion done so well. No matter what mood my daughter walks into Ivy Hill with she always leaves happy and calm. Equine therapy has become a huge blessing to us!

My 4 year old son was recently adopted from China and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He had only been walking for about a year when we started lessons and I've seen him gain the core strength necessary to run, jump and start to swim this summer. Every week his instructor and I celebrate the milestones he is now meeting. Hippo therapy is truly changing his life!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What makes Ivy Hill stand out is the inclusive, innovative nature of the program and staff. Ivy Hill uses the equine experience to support anyone who could benefit from it. Their programs reach out to people of all walks of life and truly bolster the community in any way it can. This non-profit is always improving-they are not afraid of change but embrace it. This is because that is what their therapeutic program is designed to do- constantly support and improve the lives of it's clients. Ivy Hill is an integrative family- the donors and clients and volunteers and staff all work with each other in a way where there isn't isolation between the groups. This is important because integrating these facets of a non profit leads to more effective and efficient learning for all.

I worked and volunteered at Ivy Hill for two years and I still stay connected with them. Ivy Hill is equine therapy at it's finest.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a parent ,we strive to do the best for our children. As a parent of a Special Needs child it seems that we always have to fight for everything, health care, education,special equipment. How far from that grind was the program we found at Ivy Hill.

This therapeutic equestrian center has proven to be a God send. The instructors, the HORSES and everyone involved is just awesome everyday.
The center is welcoming ,informative and trained to perfection.

My daughter Holly started riding here 4 years ago at a time when she really needed to find something for herself , something that she could do all on her own. Ivy Hill has allowed her the independence to explore her love of horses and better yet ,to learn how to ride. More importantly, riding independently ,something I never thought was possible has had such a dramatic impact on Holly sometimes I just sit back in awe.

People would tell me wait and see she will change. Therapeutic riding will help her walk and talk improve her strengths and her social graces. Yeah , right , at 30 years old I didn't think so. After all I am her mom and I know everything!
Well MOM guess what, Holly's strength has improved her mobility and her speech has improved , most of all her independent thinking has improved. I have no one to thank but Ivy Hill and their exceptional team.

Would I recommend Ivy Hill,? In a New York second! They should be applauded for their dedication, knowledge and patience for each and every rider who walks through the barn doors. No one is turned away. If you are 8 to 80 just do it . You won't be sorry.

Sincerely

Jeanne mctamney
MOM

Writer

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What a wonderful place! My 3 daughters love going to horse camp here! The staff is friendly and the facility is well maintained and very nice. I would definately recommend it.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The excellent instructors at the farm helped get one of my girls to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles! Because of their excellent instruction she not only became a more accomplished rider but also became more confident and outgoing. While at the Olympics she won a Gold and two Silver medals!! She has gone on to give numerous speeches about her experiences at schools, Olympus Camera, other farms.. she has even been in parades! Her next appearance will be at Lifepath's annual golf outing fundraising event on August 8th. I can't say enough about how great Ivy Hill is!!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've been working with Ivy Hill for over 10 years! The work we do is truly amazing and the horses are miracle workers!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I starting helping a bit with some events for Ivy Hill and I am so impressed with the good that working with horses does for the clients! The staff at Ivy Hill are so caring. I recommended that a coworker see if it would be helpful for his child and have really seen this little boy blossom since he has been riding.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being an intern for Ivy Hill has been an amazing experience. Working with people who are so passionate and caring about the role they have for this foundation is very inspiring. I really feel like the work I am doing is important and I feel that helping the facility and the horses really makes a difference for the participants of Ivy Hill. Getting to see the summer camp in action and the lessons happen really helps me focus because I know the work I do here is helping so many people. This opportunity for me to see how Ivy Hill operates has been one I'm very grateful for.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center is FANTASTIC because of its holistic approach to its mission. They use hippo therapy in so many applications, and continue to look for more applications. People of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds can feel comforted by the staff and horses alike. How do I know this? I spent 40 hours a week for 10 weeks at this facility last summer as a camp counselor and volunteer. This summer I am working as an Intern focusing on making Ivy Hill a more environmentally friendly place. Our collaborative project includes rainwater harvesting, manure management via composting, and a summer produce garden. Just another way to show that at Ivy Hill, we care about positive change, including our environmental impact!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Ivy Hill is supported (in part) by the VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn for its program, "Silver Reins and Golden Saddles". Having worked with numerous programs to support the elderly and disabled over the years, I can vouch for the difference made in the lives of older and disabled adults, when Ivy Hill's program reached out into the community to touch the lives of many in senior centers, senior housing, and adult daily living centers. For those older adults, the special connection and therapy of relating to their new equine friends generated more than just smiles, but provided an increased sense of well-being, and a connection to life in a new way. Having witnessed this program and the difference their equine therapy provides, I want others in the community to know that the programs at Ivy Hill have made a significant difference to those served!
Joanne Kline, VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an Activities Director at a Nursing and Rehab Center in Warminster and I was fortunate enough to be able to experience the joy that Ivy Hill and their horses brought to our residents. A family member of one of our residents put us in touch with this wonderful center and from the moment I talked to them I knew we were in for a special treat. Our facility has a wide range of seniors including long-term residents, rehab patients, and residents with cognitive impairments and it was really amazing to see the way that they reacted to seeing these beautiful horses. Their eyes lit up and it sparked so many memories for them. It did not matter if they had some memory impairment or if they were cognitively intact, there was something about this experience that really touched them all. The families that were visiting their loved ones watched and their eyes welled up in tears in seeing how their loved one interacted with the horses. We really appreciated how the staff worked with our population with such kindness and patience. We are so grateful to have been put in contact with such a fantastic organization. We really look forward to our next visit and value the relationship we have built.

2 aleidy

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Sophia has Diplegic Cerebral Palsy and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Sophia was delayed in all major milestones, crawling, sitting, walking and so many more. We were told more then once she would never talk, or walk with out assistance. She has low muscle tone, and tires easily, her leg muscles are especially tight, her trunk is weak and the list goes on. In addition to these physical disabilities she also has a learning disability that causes her to face life with many challenges. So learning in the traditional sense is difficult for her. Despite all this we have always encouraged Sophia to have as normal a life as possible because she is so really so much more then what her medical records or IEP shows. She is smart, sassy, funny, brave, stubborn, happy and confident. And Ivy Hill is a big reason why.

We brought Sophia to Ivy Hill at the encouragement of my Mother about 10 years ago. She had read about the benefits of Therapeutic riding and thought is would be a great fit for us. . At the time Sophia was completely non-verbal and her hearing was just coming back. She communicated through Sign language and an aug board. I couldn’t imagine how this was going to work. But the moment she walked through the barn doors none of that mattered anymore. You see the great thing about horses, is that they don’t discriminate. She made instant friends with her first ride Bean and they bonded on a level I don’t think I can explain. In fact Bean became one of her first words when she began speaking. And she named everything “Bean”. I even have an Uncle whose name has since become Uncle Bean. The connection made between rider and a horse is one of acceptance and understanding.

Therapeutic Riding provides benefits you may not even be aware of and is not limited to children or young adults. In fact my mom who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, starting riding here the same time as Sophia and she was in her 60’s. Let’s talk about the physical benefits we saw first. Both their balance and trunk strength improved. I saw this instantly with Sophia and still see improvement while she’s riding and after her lessons. With my mom this would last several days. She would notice the ability to control muscles she hadn’t felt prior. Tighten muscles were stretched and used in ways to help overall stability. So the entire body is becoming more controllable through therapy because their body is synching with the rhythm of the horse. No other therapy we’ve had has this much effect during and after a session for either my mom or my daughter.

Additionally therapeutic riding can help increase focus and attention. Following instructions, putting your horse’s needs before your own and trusting your horse as much as you are asking him to trust you. Listening behaviors, communication skills, and sensory issues the list goes on and on. The impact of this type of therapy cannot be under estimated.

But there is something else happening here in this program, something beyond the horses and what they give our riders. Ivy Hill has something that we have never encountered before or since, something that makes them unique. And that is the staff. The people involved in a program like this can either make it or break it. They have to be passionate about the riders, the horses and the mission. They have to be accepting, patient, and understanding. They have to be invested! Some how we hit the jacket pot. My Mom rode with both Janna and Rachel. They treated her with respect and dignity. They understood her limitations and fears, and they made the experience wonderful for her. Sophia has had a lesson from almost everyone here at one point but her primary instructors are Megan and Janna. These ladies were the number one draft picks for Soph. For us they are honestly a huge part in what takes this program from good to exceptional. They are game changers; in fact for us they have reinvented the game. We often say we have the best in both worlds with them because they each have a unique approach to Sophia and that works. I’ve heard many other parents speak of their instructors here the same way, because when someone is “all-in” with you it’s hard to loose. We have watched Sophia grow from a shy non-verbal little girl to a confident young lady, who will be happy to talk your ear off if given the chance.

All parents want their child to grow up and live a “normal” life. We are no different. We want our kids to forge their own path and our job is to do our best we can to make that happen. We have tried to raise Sophia to know no boundaries. Her body and her mind play tricks on her and set limits for her every second, of every day and we don’t need to add to that. We need to find ways to work through that and they do.

Ivy Hill treats Sophia like Sophia.

Janna and Megan believe in our daughter as much as we do, and they have become among of the most important people in her life. They push her when she needs it, they pick her up when she falls, they encourage her to make goals and support her attempts to reach them and they celebrate with her when she succeeds. They are her friends, her teachers, her role models and her biggest supporters. To us, to Sophia they are Ivy Hill.
Riding at Ivy Hill has changed Sophia’s life, and I can’t imagine where we would be without this team