MoonRise Therapeutics
Compassionate Connection* Experiential Therapy * Joyful Play
March 2021
Spring is here!

The days are a little longer, the sun a little warmer and the mud is here!

Presently, mental health is being talked about now more than ever. The one year anniversary of the pandemic reveals the emotional toll it has taken on many people. Thus, bringing compassionate care to ourselves and our relationships is essential. The equinox offers us the opportunity to do just that by spring cleaning our mental health and clearing the “clutter” that often occupies our minds and bodies, causing stress, anxiety, or negativity. As we know, holding onto "clutter" can often consume us. With the rejuvenation of spring, we can each embrace the opportunity for clarity and encourage others to join us.

At MoonRise asking ourselves reflective questions and taking action are equally important to our well-being work. The following are questions for consideration and reflection: What are we doing to increase the joy for ourselves and those we serve? What can we let go of so that other things may grow? How do we connect with the people and animals who are around us? Are we fully present in the moment with ourselves, others and the natural world? How is the physical and emotional health of our staff, board and animal partners? Do we express gratitude for the things that are working? As we individually and collectively ponder these questions, springtime is a great springboard to set new intentions as the supportive energy of the natural world bursts with newness.

Let us embrace this time of transition from winter to spring, put on our mud boots and take the leadership needed for our well-being!

Enjoying the sunshine!

Mary and Makata making their way up the road. (above)

Nicole walking Spirit. (right)

Emily C. & Bart in Taftsville. (right)

Sienna, with cat in sling, cleaning up the pasture. (far top right)

Emily A. and Krystall enjoying the sun during the walk. (bottom right)
Teen Anxiety Support Group Begins.
This spring MRT will offer a six week support group for high school students, led by clinicians, DJ Jesser, LICSW and Kimberely Knowlton-Young, LICSW. Participants will:

~Share their own experience of anxiety and recognize
similarities and differences of how anxiety shows
up for each person.
~Work with compassion and understanding to get
to know and transform the difficult feelings of
~Explore skills, including DBT (Dialectical
Behavioral Therapy) and Somatic Experiencing.
~Establish a unique plan for each participant to
respond and reduce their anxiety, empowering
them toward their own well-being. 
~Integrate newly acquired skills at the final 2-hour
in-person equine facilitated session. 
Mondays After-School
Online 4-5:00pm with a final session 4-6:00pm at MRT (in-person)
$30 Billed through insurance and/or sliding scale available. 

**If interested in sponsoring a student (s) and covering the cost for one or more sessions email: [email protected].

MRT is grateful to all our supporters during 2020, a year of such uncertainty.

2020 Annual Review Snapshot:

  • Remained open with COVID-19 protocols in place with limited small group programming and increased individual and family work.  
  • Hosted a modified summer program with The Haven.
  • Increased clinical staff and hired first Director of Operations.
  • Facilitated 2 youth groups funded by a grant from Mascoma Bank.
  • Worked with High Horses (HH) to raise combined funds of $18,000 to initiate a collaboration between MRT and HH, offering mental health services one day per week at their facility in Sharon, VT.
  • Featured article in the Vermont Standard about MRT and HH collaboration.
  • Developed a MoonRise Veteran program in collaboration with Vermont Adaptive.
  • Grant and Foundational money totaled $75,500 from 6 foundations.
  • Individual donations totaled $28,950 from 77 donors.
  • 45 individual donors gave for more than one consecutive year.
  • Hosted first annual Walk to Thrive fundraiser in Taftsville.
  • Constructed a new shed for the horses in the upper field.
  • Welcomed two new kittens to the barn, Luna and Amigo.


A 2020 Reflection
from Ben Fox, LICSW and staff at MRT

First, I state my deep appreciation to you all that I am able to share in the bubble that is Moonrise Therapeutics. It is an honor to work in collaboration with everyone- from volunteers to staff, horses to cats, to caring neighbors alike – towards a common goal of healing connection.
It is further inspiring that in the face of hardship, the Moonrise Therapeutics community rises to the challenge together and helps those in need to start to address and overcome their issues, one horse breath at a time. 
I wish I could share the artwork many which my patients have made illustrating this transformation through equine therapy. Time nor confidentiality allow for such things, however, they can be found in a few stories herein.
In reflection on 2020, the magic has occurred in the smile on the face of a client who overcame old physical and psychological wounds to ride a horse again after 30 years. I won’t forget seeing Robert framed on his horse Tym in the sunrise light just as we wondered who they might ride that day.
It happened again when another client overcame many mental, physical and emotional barriers to connect and ride with a horse for the first time - stating - “I did it, I never thought I could!”

It is quiet moments too, like when an isolated teen said “I have a friend,” after Spirit spent part of the afternoon standing by their shoulder.
It is also a place where “I learned how to breathe again,” said another. Stillness and calm.
I have also found it in receiving help while connecting with new and old friends to finish the new horse shed before snow fell.
It is knowing that someone, two or four footed, is there to help support no matter what you’re doing, large or small.
And I am in awe of it, that healing space, which seems to gather strength from connection between beings and naturally invites others to share in it’s ever present energy.
Thank you.
Anna Tracey

MRT is grateful for Anna Tracey from Pomfret, Vermont who was the recent winter intern. She spent numerous hours at the barn with the horses no matter the weather. She arrived each day with a smile on her face and numerous layers of clothing as she never let the cold temperatures get in the way of caring for the horses or finishing up barn chores. Before she returned to Colorado for the spring, she kindly agreed to answer some quick questions about herself and her experience at MRT. (Anna pictured at left and below with DJ taking pictures for Valentines Day)
Where were you recently in school?

I graduated in spring of 2020 from University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Business.

Post-grad I worked for the National Ecological Observation Network as a wildlife field technician during the spring-fall. I return to my position with this company this spring. 

How did you first hear about MoonRise?

My mom originally heard about Moonrise as a local barn dedicated to natural horsemanship. In 2008, I started riding at Moonrise Farm summer camps when I was nine years old.

What was your first involvement at MoonRise?

I started participating in summer camps at age nine and I immediately fell in love with the horses and Moonrise's approach to building partnerships with the horses.

At age 12, I asked DJ if I could be a volunteer. I started with barn chores and this quickly led to involvement with summer programs. From then on I spent most of my summers at Moonrise Farm helping in summer programming and playing with the horses. I did this for six summers through middle school and high school until I left for college. 

How have you stayed connected with MoonRise and how did you decide to return as the winter intern?

Over the years I have stayed connected with DJ and continue to visit her and the horses whenever I return home from Colorado.

This past fall, when I returned home to spend the winter with my parents, I reached out to DJ to catch-up. During which she mentioned they could use some extra help at the barn, and I quickly volunteered my help. 

Can you give an example of compassionate connection in relation to your work at MRT?

The aspect of compassionate connection has always resonated with me. Each time I interact with a horse, whether it is walking by them in the field, leading them, or doing their feet it is important to be intentional with your actions and energy. If you come into work with a horse and you are frustrated or rushing, they will quickly reflect your energy back to you and remind you to check yourself. Being around them is a constant reminder to be present and mindful. Interacting with the horses is extremely grounding.

Additionally, I enjoy seeing and learning how other MRT partners work with the horses, especially, DJ, Ben, and Sienna. Learning about horse speak, seeing their intentions as they connect with the horses, and their reflections on interactions have been incredibly educational. And I am very grateful for it. 

What is one of your favorite characteristics of each horse?

Bart: Friendliness and sociability.  
Makata: Gentle and calm energy. 
Krystall: I appreciate his curious nature.
Spirit: Her expressiveness. 

Do you hope to have horses in your life in the future?

I hope to continue to have horses in my life and hopefully have a horse of my own one day. 
Holistic Horsemanship
led by Heidi Potter at MRT in June.
Heidi Potter returns to MoonRise to lead a Holistics Horsemanship Clinic. An internationally known and respected Horse Speak Senior Instructor, Centered Riding Clinician, Accredited Horse Aglity Trainer and Author. Heidi brings over 50 years of horse experience to her clients.

MRT is fortunate to benefit from her expertise.

The clinic is designed for all levels of abilities with specific focus on deepening awareness of the partnership between horse and human. In addition, Heidi will support each client to further grow their trust to insure a safe and rewarding relationship with their equine partner.

If interested in registering please email: [email protected]
MoonRise and High Horses Collaboration Continues.

MRT and High Horses (HH) continue in 2021 to provide equine-assisted mental health services in Sharon, VT. The collaboration between these two distinguished organizations continues to transform our clients’ life experiences through partnership with the horses.
MRT Second Annual
October 3, 2021

JOIN US for the second annual Walk to Thrive in support of MoonRise Therapeutics. We hope to raise at least $15,000. Sponsorships are available at $200 level or more, email [email protected] for information. There is plenty of time to organize a team for the walk. Teams of 5 or more who raise a minimum of $5 will earn a free gift for their team leader. Plus, other goodies will be provided on day of walk.
MoonRise Therapeutics
PO Box 90
Taftsville, VT 05073