Strong winds damage barns, leave horses displaced


GREENFIELD — Wind damaged three horse barns last week at Edelweiss-Equine Assisted Therapy Center, leaving nonprofit staff scrambling to make repairs to shelter the animals before winter weather rolls in.

The organization, which provides horseback riding therapy to people with special needs, is asking the community for support for the project, which needs both money and extra sets of hands.

Roofing panels were ripped from one of the shelters Wednesday, leaving it uninhabitable for the three horses that stay there overnight. The damage to the other two shelters is less extensive but will require repairs as cold weather moves in, said Cara Pfaff, executive director of the organization.

The shelters aren’t covered under the therapy center’s insurance policy, and a tight annual budget leaves no money for unforeseen expenses, Pfaff said. She estimated it will cost about $500 to make temporary repairs to the shelters, but she hopes to raise close to $5,000 to replace them.

Pfaff is asking community members for general donations to fix the damage and is also seeking volunteers to assist with the repairs, which need to be made as soon as possible, she said. Donations can be made through the center’s website,; and anyone interested in helping can also reach out by calling 317-759-9444, she said.

Six of the organization’s nine horses are staying in the damaged shelters, Pfaff said. While the structures remain functional, they don’t offer sufficient protection from the elements to last through the winter, she said.

“We want to provide the best possible protection for our horses,” Pfaff said. “Obviously, they’re essential to our program, and we do everything we can to keep them healthy so we can keep our programs going.”

The other three horses were taken to a barn away from the facility but will need to return to the center soon, Pfaff said.

The horses, which range in age from 9 to 21 years old, serve about 50 riders during the six months of the year that services are offered, Pfaff said. The organization is largely volunteer-driven and charges clients as little as possible, she added.

Chris Kelly, president of the center’s board of directors, said the damage hit the organization at an especially rough time of the year.

The center offers rides between May and October when weather is warm, and there’s enough daylight to offer rides during the evening. Outside of those months, the organization operates on a fixed amount of funding, Kelly said.

“We’re frugal as it is, and our revenue streams dry up during this time,” she said. “We’ll do as much as we can, but we could really use some help.”

Without adequate shelter, the horses’ health can suffer, said Mary Savides, a longtime member of the center’s board of directors.

All of the organization’s horses were selected for their forgiving demeanor, which is a requirement for therapy horses, Savides added.

“We want to do everything we can for our horses,” she said. “It takes a lot of groundwork to get them ready for our riders, and we need to provide the best we can.”

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Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy Center is seeking donations for repairs to three of its horse barns damaged last week by winds. Volunteers are also needed for the work. Donations can be made via the center’s website, Interested volunteers should call 317-759-9444.