Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm

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  • During the 1960's-1970's Richard Donovan built Ironstone Farm and bred, raised, and trained thoroughbred horses.
  • In the 1970's groups of children with special needs made field trips to the farm.
  • In 1983, Challenge Unlimited began to offer therapeutic riding to individuals with disabilities as a non-profit organization. All services were donated by the farm. Its mission was "..to provide effective therapy to people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities, using horses and a working farm atmosphere." as well as "...to involve people in helping the community through volunteer services in a working farm environment," and "...to provide a wholesome, healthy and educational environment for young people of all abilities in which to learn life skills through horse-related activities.
  • From 1983-1987, Challenge Unlimited had received tax exempt status, and established programs with both the National Birth Defects Center/Genesis Fund and Massachusetts Special Olympics. Ironstone Farm was the first Massachusetts organization to host a Special Olympics Equestrian Event.
  • In 1994, a Physical Therapy Building was built for Challenge Unlimited Programs.
  • By 1996, Challenge Unlimited had A public school contract with Lowell for 400 clients.
  • In 1999, 700 clients used the facilities.
  • From 2007-2008, a new indoor arena was built and abutting property bought to develop after-school programs.


  • See

Overview of Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm

  • "Therapeutic horseback riding improves physical strength, self-esteem," Andover Townsman supplement, Town Crossings, February 18, 2000, p. 17.
  • "Horse program's new grant could help it ride off with land," Andover Townsman, June 22, 2000, p. 5.
  • "Challenge accepted: 'Unlimited' program saves itself by buying the farm - literally," Andover Townsman, December 13, 2001, p. 1.
  • "Keeping a dream alive - on horseback: Donovans devoted land to special program," Andover Townsman, December 27, 2001, p. 11.
  • "Therapy for kids gets financial lift: Ironstone fills saddlebags with Banknorth's $10K gift," Andover Townsman, February 17, 2005.
  • "No more snowy rides: Andover indoor riding facility approved," Eagle Tribune, May 11, 2005, p. 11.
  • 'Special ride for Special Olympians: Ironstone Farm, riders ready for preliminary," Eagle Tribune, September 19, 2005.
  • "New riding ring means year-round therapy, lessons," Andover Townsman, June 14, 2007, p. 6.
  • "A day for medals, horses and fun: Special Olympics held at Ironstone Farm," Eagle Tribune, November 8, 2007.
  • "Challenge Unlimited's champion honored: O'Brien recognized for lifetime of helping children with disabilities," Eagle Tribune, May 23, 2008.



--Leslie 18:25, February 29, 2012 (EST)
--Kim 14:37, August 6, 2013 (EDT)


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