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Manes & Motions began in 1999 as an idea conceived by our founder Jerri Massi. Jerri along with her visionaries saw a need in the community for an equine assisted activities program for participants living with special needs.
In the fall of 1999, Manes & Motions launched a pilot program at Wedgewood Stables in Kensington, Connecticut with twelve riders, two PATH Intl. certified instructors, four horses and fifty trained volunteers. The program continued to grow as word spread about the many benefits participants and volunteers were experiencing through the equine assisted activities program.
In 2002, Manes & Motions became affiliated with Hospital for Special Care (HSC), a large, well-respected rehabilitation facility. HSC provided us with fundraising support in the community and assisted Manes & Motions with many administrative functions. Manes & Motions then began providing therapeutic riding and unmounted equine activities to the hospital's patients who were recovering from traumatic brain injuries. It was the perfect working relationship, as both facilities hold the same mission – to improve the daily lives of those individuals living with disabilities.
By 2004, Manes & Motions was serving sixty participants weekly and had sixteen prospective riders on a wait list. There were now six PATH Intl. certified instructors, eight program horses and over one hundred trained volunteers. The need for a larger facility became apparent and the search for a new home for Manes & Motions began in 2006. In the fall of 2007, Manes & Motions found a large empty barn and seven acres of pasture at the Daniels Farm in Middletown, Connecticut. After meeting the Daniels family and property manager Jim Dykas, it was clear that this would be a wonderful location for the program. The Daniels Farm has been in continuous operation for five generations, dating back to the mid-1800's. With beginnings as a dairy farm and milk production facility, property is currently leased to several businesses including a dog grooming salon, a sawmill, and a landscape company. The farm atmosphere and trail around the property provide an enhanced and relaxed country setting allowing participants to see cows, sheep, rabbits and working farm equipment.
In 2008, founder Jerri Massi passed away and Manes & Motions became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hospital for Special Care. Today, the staff has expanded to eight PATH Intl. certified instructors, a program manager, program coordinator, volunteer coordinator, instructor coordinator and six barn assistants. Ten horses and over 150 trained volunteers served 225 participants in 2014.
In 2015, with the help of our many donors, Manes & Motions completed building a brand new heated indoor therapeutic riding arena. William J. Higgins, Manes & Motions Board Chairman said, “The only way to ensure Manes & Motions’ future, and its growth, is to go year-round.” This was made possible through the Indoor Riding Arena Campaign which raised over $540 thousand dollars. The project started 2014. The 10,580 square-foot indoor riding arena includes a classroom, observation area, offices and restrooms. This is the first time in Manes' history that riding sessions will be offered during the cold weather months.
Check out some before and after pictures here.