The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program will spread their program indoors this spring when they open a 17,000 square foot Jean and
Ric Edelman Indoor Riding Arena, where they can provide therapeutic riding for many that are in need of riding therapy.
One mother, Mara Sibley, noted the value of the riding program with her son Carson, who looked forward to riding day every week. “Riding at NVTRP is so much more than just a riding lesson. NVTRP helps Carson focus and concentrate; it provides a sense of comfort and inclusion; it gives him an opportunity to do what he has so much confidence doing, and to thrive in such a welcoming environment," she said. The indoor riding ring will expand his riding season options.
Omy Emami's husband was introduced to NVTRP in 2016 through programs provided by Ft Belvoir clinics and Wounded Warrior Project. They participated in family events, and now Emami hopes that with an indoor arena, they'll be able to do that throughout the year. "He gained so much during his time at NVTRP that he sought ways to get our family involved," she said.
The therapy on horseback works too, said Olivia Taylor, NVTRP Program Director. “The tranquil farm atmosphere and non-judgemental horses creates an ideal atmosphere for learning and practicing new skills,” she said, adding that the therapy delivers in a few different ways. “Through riding and horsemanship session goals, our clients work on increasing strength, balance, motor planning, confidence, and emotional regulation,” Taylor said.
In order to meet the growing demand for NVTRP services, and provide an enhanced experience for current riders, their families, and volunteers, they are conducting a whole scale capital improvement project that will unleash property’s full potential. Phase I, including the new, lit outdoor Trefry Riding Arena, expanded parking, accessible Kristen P. Cubbage Memorial playground, and extensive foundation and infrastructure work needed to prepare the site for the indoor riding arena. Cubbage is the late wife of long-time NVTRP Board member and Building Committee Chair, Gary Cubbage. Gary and Kristen have two daughters, Caroline and Emma; who have benefitted from the program.
According to NVTRP, the new space will allow current riders to ride year-round, regardless of the weather, and also allow services to increase by 60 percent, hopefully eliminating the typical one year waiting list.
Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program was started in 1980 by a small group of people in Clifton who saw the dramatic improvements that students living with special needs were making at a nearby equine-assisted activities and therapy facility. NVTRP founders sought advice on starting a therapeutic riding program in the community of Clifton and initially obtained permission from the Park Authority to operate in South Run Park.
Money was tight in the first years, but Clifton neighbors lent horses and time, and the program grew over time. Many of the original volunteers are still involved. Rita Dunn was a driving force behind the early development of NVTRP and she was involved until 2001.
In January 2012, NVTRP purchased Little Full Cry Farm, a 17-acre farm that had a barn fire in 2007, and in 2016 Little Full Cry Farm became O'Shaughnessy Farm in honor of the O'Shaughnessy-Hurst Memorial Foundation, the largest donor to support the purchase of the property for NVTRP.