A Mission – Why We Do What We Do
We give people a soft spot to land and a place to belong and be celebrated. We provide an avenue for people in our community to share their own gifts with others. Our greatest joy at Hoofbeats is the chance to watch people bloom.
Wounded Warriors Project: Hoofbeats was part of a retreat for Special Operations soldiers and their families, helping them experience the peace and unconditional acceptance that horses offer. Hoofbeats continues to serve the families of service men and women.
Show Teams: Hoofbeats riders participated in the Commonwealth Games, Dressage with a View Show Series, and the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia’s annual competition.
Drill Team Riding: Hoofbeats is known for its drill teams that demonstrate rider skills at every level. Along with performing at our in-house Dinner Theaters, these teams are frequently invited to open for other venues as flag teams. This year, Hoofbeats appeared again to a packed house at the Baroque Equestrian Games.
Special Olympics: In conjunction with the VMI Games, Hoofbeats and the Virginia Horse Center again hosted the Special Olympics of Va. equestrian division — where riders competed in Dressage, Equitation, and Trail events. This was our eighth year providing this service.
The Lesson Program: Our riders achieved big strides this year, developing as riders, as citizens, and as caring people. The BARN RAT program saw former “littles” graduate into Junior Staff members who mentored a new crop of “littles.” Some of our previous barn rats and Eagle Scouts came back to visit, mentoring our current students and sharing their new skills and valuable advice. Some of our rats are planning to go off to college and to the military in the fall. Hoofbeats is so proud of the volunteerism that these young adults learned here, which still plays a large role in their lives and aspirations.
We have lots of young riders this year and we celebrate them as the future of our program. Our adult rider program continues to provide strong physical, mental, and social support. Hoofbeats is proud of our diverse demographics – which forms a true peer group and an avenue for young and old to share their lives with each other. In the three eight-week sessions of 2014 Hoofbeats provided well over 2,000 hours of instruction to an average of 49 weekly riders. As the program’s reputation has grown in the community and surrounding counties, requests from all over Virginia have begun to pour in. Just this year, 120 riders have visited to enjoy our facility for a short-term or one-time-ride program.
Internships and Community Service: As the value of equine therapy gains more recognition, Hoofbeats has become a training ground for future therapists and leaders. We hosted one Summer Intern and mentored one aspiring instructor through the Path International program. We adored both of these women and are proud of their success! As part of a new collaborative internship program with the UVA College of Health Sciences, Mary Baldwin College has asked Hoofbeats to be a placement partner. Next year, we will be working with their students for weekly, month-long, and semester internships. Meanwhile, two students from the Washington and Lee University Bonner Service Program have been actively assisting us with the lessons, special events, and social media. Hoofbeats continues to provide a venue for W&L and VMI’s service days and for community service hours for Rockbridge and Alleghany counties.
By Carol Branscome and Jinae Kennedy