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 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 culminates 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.
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