Loudoun Therapeutic Riding celebrated its upcoming August move, from Morven Park in Leesburg to the newly purchased Lucia Farm in Lovettesville, this morning with Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) in attendance.
Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, which uses equine services to improve the lives of people with developmental, emotional, and physical disabilities, has served the Loudoun County special needs community for 46 years. The nonprofit purchased the 24-acre property for $1.6 million. The organization is asking that the community help foot the bill, hoping to raise $200,000 before the sale settlement in late July. After four decades in the community, this is the first property LTR has owned. Incoming president Susan McMunn said that without the community’s support, the move wouldn’t be possible.
“We have so many people who support us, and now we have a place they come com to and see what we do, we can show them what these horses can really do for people.,” McMunn said.
Because of restrictions at Morven Park, Loudoun Therapeutic Riding hadn’t been able to offer services on weekends. At the new facility, the operation will be open an additional 99 days a year. The additional availability couldn’t come at a more welcome time; the nonprofit currently has a long waitlist, as demand for mental health services skyrocketed during the pandemic. Randall sees therapeutic riding as an effective means to elevate the public’s awareness of mental health issues.
“Combining mental health with horses is fantastic,” Randall said. “When somebody has a mental health issue, we should destigmatize it, put it out in the open, and talk about it.”
Loudoun Therapeutic Riding has fostered lifelong friendships among is hundreds of clients and volunteers.
Abbey Crook and Kate Sulek have been friends for over 15 years, practically growing up in the barn together. Crook works with horses as a form of therapy. Sulek volunteers for Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, often leading Crook on horseback. She’s seen the tremendous strides that Crook has made thanks to the program.
“It’s helped her a lot, especially in terms of communication. She comes into the barn and knows exactly what she wants to do,” said Sulek.
The pair will spend hours cleaning out stalls and helping with the horses. Now, they’ll have 21 brand new stalls to clean at the Lovettsville facility.
Loudoun Therapeutic Riding at Lucia Farms will host its “Barn Warming” on Sept. 18 to introduce the public to the new facility.