Loudoun Therapeutic Riding: Rehabilitating and Empowering Community Members

Loudoun Therapeutic Riding client session

The mission of Loudoun Therapeutic Riding is to embrace the power of horse-assisted services to promote well-being and community inclusion for people with physical, cognitive, and mental health challenges. Over the last 47 years, they have provided 135,360 lessons to 13,000 people who have been affected by Psychosocial Disorders, Down Syndrome, Intellectual and Learning Disabilities, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and many others. To accomplish this, they have partnered with 112 horses who were supported by 4,700 volunteers that gave 330,000 hours of their time, which is equivalent to $9,418,200 in in-kind donation dollars.

Caitlin Taft, the Facilitator Manager, describes a day in the life at the barn. “Our barn chores start at 8 a.m., bright and early. The horses all come in and eat breakfast, then the lessons of the day start at 9:30 a.m. The teachers have their set schedules and then the volunteers come in and help around until 6:30pm when the lessons end.”

During these 8 hours of lessons, LTR offers a wide variety of programs. These include Carriage Driving which allows the physically impaired to gain the therapeutic benefits of riding a horse without a saddle, Silver Spurs which is program that offers equine services to local senior centers, and Hippotherapy which is a scientifically backed strategy that uses equine movements to help improve the mobility of the rider. 

In fact, recently a long-time dream of this center came true. Back in August, they moved to a new, beautifully designed facility in Lovettsville. Paul Shane, the Executive Director, comments on this drastic change for the team, “I love it. It’s freedom to do what you want, when you want, for however long you want to, without anyone determining your fate. I mean that is so important. You have to be able to give lessons, when people need lessons, not when you want to or the outside entity says so.”

Proceeds from the Boots & Bridles Dance will fund the horses of the year and services offered by LTR. “That way, when the riders come here, and are unable to afford our services, we can allow them to ride for free. These donations would sincerely help feed the animals and just make the whole barn go around.”

“I’ve been at this barn for eight years now and I can say that this team is as passionate as it gets. I mean I’ve always done horses. I rode as a kid and through my early adulthood I found this program through my horse trainer. It looked fascinating and I tagged along to see how equine therapy worked, which is when I met my team. They asked me if I wanted a job here and initially I was so against it. But this program is different, I began to understand what they were actually doing here. The impact they were having on the riders, volunteers, and horses. As they say, the rest is history. It’s been beautiful to watch this barn just keep growing and growing. Everyone is so grateful to be here.”

Shane assures potential donors that LTR’s work for the Loudoun community is impactful: “I’ve worked for a lot of non-profits but this one is particularly special to me. With other places, it’s like I was throwing out seeds and hoping they take root. But here, the impact is evident. I get to see the smiles, the laughter, and the everyday miracles. And that’s the beauty of it. They will come to work every single day with a smile on their face and laughter in their hearts. ”

Article by Aishani Satia

Photos courtesy of Loudoun Therapeutic Riding

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply