Room with a View

Ashton Grove connects retired residents with retired race horses

Old Friends, in Georgetown, began in 2003 as a non-profit retirement facility for horses. Partnering with the recently-built Ashton Grove was an obvious match made in heaven. Ashton Grove Senior Living offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care in an active adult senior retirement community. Non-medical care and support, along with amenities and lifestyle options are provided to the residents.

Creating an Old Friends extension in the “backyard” acreage of Ashton Grove offered an amenity unlike any other. The Old Friends blog explained the concept at the official unveiling in October, “When Old Friends supporters Bev and John Passerello moved from California to Ashton Grove Senior Living in Georgetown, they saw the potential for a wonderful blend of happy horses and happy people. The Passerellos saw that Ashton Grove, a new facility only a few miles from Old Friends’ main farm, included some good pasture land and a barn. These had formerly been used by Hill ‘N’ Dale Farm and were still in excellent shape. They saw there was good fencing and ample room well back from the noise of the road. They saw that Old Friends could use more space for horses….Retired people and retired horses—it was a natural…It was a big project being proposed, and of great importance to all concerned, equine and human. It had to be done right, and implementing such projects takes time, forethought, and effort. Through the year of planning and preparation the Passerellos provided the energy and unfailing confi dence in the project that made it a reality.”

Ashton Grove sits on more than 80 acres. Half of those acres are occupied by the senior living community while the other half features eight paddocks, a 12-stall barn, and horses. The process was ten months in the making, but the initial seven retired Thoroughbreds arrived on-site in September.

Though it presented many unique challenges, in some ways, the timing couldn’t have been better. With so many regularly scheduled community activities canceled or put on hold due to the pandemic, the backyard farm provides the residents daily interactive opportunities.

Community resident Tom Emerson quickly became an avid volunteer, feeding the horses every day, rain or shine, even on holidays.Prior to living at Ashton Grove, he’d “never been that close to a horse before,” but instantly embraced the mission. “Such magnificent creatures,” he says of his equine neighbors, “old people like me have a retirement home, I think old horses should have a retirement home too.”

Each horse has an incredibly interesting story, but Bev made it clear that everyone’s favorite filly is Millie. Most of the horses are racetrack gildings, but Millie, a mare who was picked up in a kill pen in Oklahoma, quickly became the first horse to really warm up to the residents of Ashton Grove, especially Emerson.

The Passerellos are still heavily involved with horses, but Bev explained “To have them here in our background and to watch someone like Tom…This is so spectacular, he’s typical of what I hope will happen.”

While much progress has been made on the horse farm throughout the pandemic, the focus is now on finding ways to make the farm more accessible to residents. Future plans include a wheelchair and golf cart trail, along with a gazebo on the top of the nearby hill. The goal is to provide an on-site home for up to 30 horses.

Ashton Grove recently hosted a ribbon cutting. The senior living community features a variety of amenities including the uniqueness of an on-site horse farm. Residents have access to salon services, restaurant-style meals offered in a dining room or smaller bistro, an on-site fitness center, and several common areas for recreational, social, religious, educational and wellness programs.

With the Assisted Living option, residents receive help with personal care and daily living activities based on a personalized service plan. Private units are available as one or two-bedrooms, or studios, featuring the choice of a room with a farm view or a patio.

Memory Care provides enhanced therapeutic stimulation for those with memory loss, in addition to individualized personal care and daily activities.

The Independent Living option offers maintenance-free living in a resort-like community and full access to all campus amenities. These homes, known as Ashton Grove Cottages, are available as two bedroom, two bathroom units.


This article also appears on page 11 of the Winter 2021 print edition of Hamburg Journal.

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