Horses with Hope


Emily Barrie         , Staff Writer

Upper St. Clair, and the world, is in dire need of hope with the entrance of 2021, and, luckily, Gilfillan Farm is planning to bring some to the Upper St. Clair community this spring. Located on Orr Road in Upper St. Clair, Gilfillan Farm has been valuable to the area for over 175 years. Established by John and Eleanor Gilfillan in the 1850’s, it has been an operational farm ever since equipped with a brick farmhouse and wooden barn. Gilfillan Farm stayed under ownership of the Gilfillan family until Margaret, granddaughter of John, died in 2001 and left the 15 acre property to Upper Saint Clair Historical Society. After this transition, the public has been free to explore the beautiful trails, which circle the historic farm and venture into the woods. Also, if one is interested in looking to visit the farmhouse itself, it is usually open on Community Day or by private appointment. 

Excitingly, there will now be one more opportunity for the community to take advantage of this treasured place. The organization Horses with Hope is coming to Gilfillan Farm the first week of April. This organization works with horses to improve the quality of life of people with physical and behavioral health disabilities. A vital partnership that led to Horses with Hope’s move to Gilfillan Farm was that of The Historical Society of Upper St. Clair. Dr. Wagner, who serves as Director of Education for the historical society, thinks that “establishing partnerships is an important way that a community grows.” He also went on to mention that “ everyone involved is excited for Horses with Hope to begin its work at Gilfillan Farm this spring, for the benefit of individuals and in support of an even more connected Upper St. Clair.” 

Additionally, Horses with Hope offers a number of interesting programs, including therapeutic riding, equine-assisted learning, and even summer camps. The director and founder, Anne Davis, enthusiastically elaborated on the topic, saying, “We are offering some camps this summer both for the general population and children with special needs. We are also planning to hold a Christmas in July.” To find out more on specific dates and how to sign up, one can visit the Horses With Hope website and look under the section titled “Programs.” There is also going to be a riding arena added to Gilfillan Farm, and funds for a covered pen are currently being collected; donations can be made through the website as well. 

The move to Gilfillan farm opens up a great opportunity for Upper St. Clair High School students to volunteer.  Davis encourages active participation within the community saying, “It is a great place to volunteer. We will look to implement a feeding team program from USC at Gilfillan for AM / PM feeding. This would make a nice school project for someone!  We would love to be involved in an annual fundraising program in USC and other area schools.” Additionally, many of the times to volunteer occur after school hours, making it easier for teenagers to be included. To volunteer, simply visit Horses with Hope’s website. There are so many ways to take advantage of this amazing organization and help the community as well. Horses with Hope’s collaboration with the Upper St. Clair Historical Society is undoubtedly going to be a partnership that not only boosts both organizations, but also one that enriches the Upper St. Clair community as a whole.