GREENFIELD — Supporters of a horse therapy facility on the city’s southwest side are looking to the community for help updating the nonprofit’s grounds.

Board members and volunteers at Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy Center recently discovered after clearing out brush and rocks in the area the western edge of the outdoor facility’s fencing had become dilapidated. An anonymous benefactor donated about $10,000 of fencing on behalf of American Legion Post 119, but Edelweiss still needs about another $16,000 to purchase the rest of the fencing and pay for installation costs, officials say.

The accidental death of a horse being held at the center sparked discussions about replacing the fencing last summer. A therapy horse in training, Malachi, became tangled attempting to jump the fence along the north side of the property and was struck by a car and killed.

“We really need fencing in order to keep (the west pasture area) a more secure area for our horses,” said Bethann Kropacek, Edelweiss program director. “This fencing is weaker in areas that we didn’t realize until we bush-hogged.”

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The loss of the standard-bred horse is the second costly incident to strike the therapy center in as many years. In late 2015, wind damaged three horse barns, costing the organization about $5,000 in repairs.

Whether it’s a child with a disability benefiting from the sense of freedom a ride atop a 1,000-plus pound horse can inspire or a military veteran looking to horseback-riding as a way to recover from the trauma of combat, the people served by Edelweiss, 531 W. County Road 100S, come to the pasture with a variety of needs.

Clients range in age from 5 to 80, with some riding the horses and other preferring to lead them about the grounds. Classes are conducted from May to October, as the organization doesn’t currently possess a building in which indoor classes can be held during the winter months, said Chris Smith, president of the Edelweiss board of directors.

The facility currently boasts 10 therapy horses, ranging in size from a pair of mini-horses to a 2,200-pound Clydesdale.

The latest project is about keeping those prized animals safe, officials said.

Smith said the organization hasn’t decided how it will raise money for the remaining fence costs but welcomes any ideas or help from the community.

Organizers will be grateful to anyone who decides to contribute to the fencing project, said veterans programs director Kurt Vetters.

With $10,000 already contributed, organizers are hopeful others will be moved to help, Vetters said.

About Edelweiss

Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy Center is a nonprofit riding center designed to help students overcome the challenges from physical and cognitive disabilities. The organization was founded in 1995 by Elisa Bell and offers an annual summer camp, in addition to classes May through October.

How you can help

Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy Center currently seeks $16,000 to replace fencing at the horse therapy center on the city’s southwest side. To contribute to the cause, visit

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or