Bella Terra Stables' Beginnings
Amber Power and Ilse Eisele began working together in 2019 running an Equine-assisted Psychotherapy program out of Rock Creek Park Horse Center in Washington, DC, where Amber had been the General Manager for almost 20 years. Early in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and all programming had to be shut down. Inquiries about the Equine-assisted Psychotherapy program poured in as the pandemic began to effect the mental health of so many in the area, so Amber and Ilse searched for other barns that might allow the program to continue.
After weeks of searching, Amber's father said, "Why don't you just come home!. Your grandparent's farm is empty and it would be great to have horses there again."
Bringing The Farm Back to Life
In July of 2020, Amber and Ilse packed up their things and moved to Murrysville, PA. Because the farm had been unoccupied for years, a lot of work was needed to get the barn and property back into shape. The barn was falling apart and had to be rebuilt, paddocks needed to be cleared of brush and brambles, and fences had to be constructed.
With the barn rebuilt and a couple of paddocks fenced in, the farm was ready for horses! Early in August, 2020, Bella, Reuben, Fiona, and LittleBit were brought to the property. Later that month, 3 horses horses from Rock Creek Park Horse Center, Max, Country, and Andrew, moved in. In October, Cei Cei and Della made the farm their home.
Over the past three years, the horses at Bella Terra Stables have changed a little with some moving to a different farm for a while, sadly, with some passing away, and with new ones moving in.
Struggles and Successes
In the early days of having horses on the farm, a lot of the "niceties" people take for granted were not available. The barn did not have power or running water, so long extension chords and hoses were used to get light into the barn and water to the horses. In October, 2020, electricity was finally set up in the barn, and running water was connected later in December.
With 7 horses grazing on the 6 acres of fenced in paddocks, it became clear that more pasture would need to be fenced in for them. Wanting to be responsible to the land and be able to rotate pasture and keep the fields healthy, an online fundraiser was begun in August 2021. Enough was raised so that by October an additional 13 acres of pasture was fenced in.
Since that initial fundraiser, Bella Terra Stables has been embraced by many individuals and communities both giving of their time and resources that continue to expand the services we have to offer to all.