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A Picture Says a Thousand Words

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A Picture Says a Thousand Words

2014

A proud young man riding Harry.

A proud young man riding Harry.

Hermes and Connor. Hermes' ear is tilted to Connor -- "Because he trusts her," said Carol.

Hermes and Connor. Hermes’ ear is tilted to Connor — “Because he trusts her,” said Carol.

Henry, always the teacher, hard at work. Summer 2014.

Henry, always the teacher, hard at work. Summer 2014.

BoLodato at the TRAV show

BoLodato at the TRAV show

Elsa and Spirit at TRAV

Elsa and Spirit at TRAV

Katie, Sybren and Ashley

Katie, Sybren and Ashley

Spirit and his new friend.

Spirit and his new friend.

Nancy Loves Harry

Nancy Loves Harry

Sybren is spoiled. (TRAV show)

Sybren is spoiled. (TRAV show)

Harry at the TRAV show.

Harry at the TRAV show.

BoLodato, Maria Pennine, and a young rider during the National Anthem at Dressage With a View.

BoLodato, Maria Pennine, and a young rider during the National Anthem at Dressage With a View.

One of our little "barn rats" with a kitten.

One of our little “barn rats” with a kitten.

A Dressage Workshop with dear friends that Carol lovingly dubbed "Old Lady Dressage Camp."

A workshop with dear friends that Carol lovingly dubbed “Old Lady Dressage Camp.” 

TRAV show

TRAV show

The first day back of 2014 Spring Session.

The first day back of 2014 Spring Session.

Carol and BoLodato giving a lesson.

Carol and BoLodato giving a lesson.

Sybren.

Sybren.

Lessons.

Lessons.

 Sybren and one of his best friends. Did you see that?

Sybren and one of his best friends. Did you see that?

Fun at a Show.

Fun at a Show.

Everybody loves Sam.

Everybody loves Sam.

practise

Commander

TRAV

TRAV

BoLodato and  "little"

BoLodato and “little”

One of our Young Riders of the Year

One of our Young Riders of the Year

Pat the Cat. An irreplaceable member of our staff.

Pat the Cat. An irreplaceable member of our staff.

HOOFBEATS 2014 – some reflections and highlights

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Oct 054

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.

Some Highlights 

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.

A proud winner!

A proud winner!

A great ride!

A great ride!

The TRAV show in October

The TRAV show in October

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Our VMI volunteers

Our VMI volunteers

Our wonderful riders

Our wonderful riders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Barn Rats

The Barn Rats

 

One of our young riders

One of our young riders

Different ages, different abilities, different experiences. One community.

Different ages, different abilities, different experiences. One community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

A Community Event: Christmas Fundraising Horse Show

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Miss Ashley holding up one of our raffle prizes

Miss Ashley holding up one of our raffle prizes

Winner of the costume contest.

Winner of the costume contest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughter, prizes, jingle bells, and warm food were in plenteous supply this Saturday at the Virginia Horse Center. The occasion? A fundraiser Christmas horse show hosted by Hoofbeats!

Debbie Work was the mastermind and manager of the successful event. Her hard work and organization pulled this show together and created a great time for everybody. All proceeds – from the class fees, raffle, and silent auction – went directly to support Hoofbeats.

The whole community showed up for this event. Local vendors lined the top floor of the Coliseum. All of them donated a vendor fee to Hoofbeats and contributed a prize to the raffle pool and silent auction. Families and farms from all over Virginia came to compete in the fun classes. The costume class, ugly sweater contest, eggnogg competition, and bloomer race were the highlights. For the eggnog competition, riders had to balance a cup of the holiday drink and compete in a regular walk, trot, canter class. We had a few spills! For the bloomer race, riders galloped down the ring, with an oversized pair of boxers pulled over their riding pants, to a clothes line with more bloomers on it. Dismounting, they had to change bloomers, jump back on their horse, and race back to the finish line.

There were quite a few in the audience who traveled to Lexington just to watch this cheerful show. Ronnie and Jodi, frequent visitors of the Horse Center, drove down from Luray Caverns to watch.”There is quite a turnout,” Jodi said, surprised that so many people made space in their schedules even during the busy holiday season. Ronnie and Jodi said that they had not heard of Hoofbeats before they came to this show. “But [therapeutic riding] is something that I really want to get into when I retire,” Jodi said. An elementary teacher and an avid horsewoman, Jodi said that she is a firm believer in the power of horses helping people.

With all of the fun and activity, people were hungry and the Hoofbeats Hospitality table was busy. The Virginia Horse Center donated delicious hot pans of chili, potato soup, and cornbread. For lunch, people just made cash donations, all of which went to Hoofbeats.

Thank you so much to the Virginia Horse Center, the vendors, the riders, the judges, the announcer, and all those who participated and donated. Check out some of the fun picture highlights below. And follow us on Twitter @HoofbeatsTRC. And Merry Christmas!

— By Beth Jinae Kennedy

Hoofbeats Board Member Diane Bird donated her beautiful glasswork for the fundraiser sale

Hoofbeats Board Member Diane Bird donated her beautiful glasswork for the fundraiser sale

Local farmer, Wynona Pryor, and her booth. She was selling hand-knit scarves and DELICIOUS pumpkin soup

Local farmer, Wynona Pryor, and her booth. She was selling hand-knit scarves and DELICIOUS pumpkin soup

A young competitor waiting for her class

A young competitor waiting for her class

A family enjoying the delicious hot lunch from the Va. Horse Center

A family enjoying the delicious hot lunch from the Va. Horse Center

Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest

Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest

Young riders excited about their class!

Young riders excited about their class!

The Bloomers Race!

The Bloomers Race!

The Race... to get the bloomers on!

The Race… to get the bloomers on!

The eggnog competition. We had a little spill!

The eggnog competition. We had a little spill!

Tish, eating chili and hanging onto three horses at the same time #casual

Tish, eating chili and hanging onto three horses at the same time #casual

Costume Class: Olaf, Sven, and Elsa!

Costume Class: Olaf, Sven, and Elsa!

Christmas Spirit!

Christmas Spirit!

It's Mary and Joseph! And their donkey!

It’s Mary and Joseph! And their donkey!

Tentative Schedule for 2015

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This is a tentative schedule! There are many things that are not yet on the books, among them are the Special Olympics Equestrian Event, The Dinner Theater Event (Alice in Wonderland), and more expected Invitational opportunites!

Jan. 8 Speaking at Lexington Sunrise Rotary
Jan. 9, 16, 23, 30 Pony Club Quiz Practice
Feb. 6, 27 Pony Club Quiz Practice
Feb. 15 Old Dominion Horse management Clinic/ODR regional meeting
March 3 Horses come back from Winter Break
March 6, 13 Pony Club Quiz Practice
March 21 Quiz Rally
April 1 -May 26 Spring Session (RHPC on practice on Saturdays 3:00)
April 24-26 Baroque Equestrian Games Clinic
May 7,8,9 Bonnie Blue Invitational Drill Team (Practice to be announced)
May 10 Hear The Beat Fund Raiser Horse Show
May 25-27 Baroque Equestrian Games Clinic
May 30 Dressage with a View Invitational Show Team
May 31 Hear the Beat Fund Raiser Horse Show
June 2-July 25 Summer Session (RHPC Mounted Meetings on Saturdays at 3:00)
June 7 Hear the Beat Fund Raiser Show
June 19-21 Old Dominion Pony Club Games/Show Jumping Mega Rally
June 20 Tenney’s Race
June 27& 28 Commonwealth Games Invitational Show Team
July 17-19 Baroque Equestrian Games Clinic
July 25 In House Games Rally and Breakfast Club
July 28-Oct. 3 Fall Session (Pony Club Mounted Meetings on Saturdays at 3:00)
Aug. 15-22 Closed for Break
Aug. 22 Clinton Anderson Clinic (possible fund raiser)
Sept. 5 Dressage with a View Invitational Show Team
Sept 6 Hear the Beat Fund Raiser Horse Show
Sept 18 Baroque Gala Invitational Drill Team
Sept. 18-20 Baroque Equestrian Games
Oct. 9-11 Trav Show! Nov. 7 Awards Ceremony

It’s Winter… What is Hoofbeats Up to?

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It’s winter at the barn, and that means a season of recovery and preparation. The last Hoofbeats 2014 riding session ended in October with the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia (TRAV) show. Lessons will start back in March 2015 with a training session for Special Olympics in April and continue through the summer.

So what does a winter season look like at Hoofbeats? What is the team up to? The barn is a little emptier and a little quieter, with the horses taking a well-deserved rest, but there is just as much hard work going on. Almost half of the horses have gone to a different stable for the winter. At Hoofbeats, it’s a small group — just Blueberry, BoLodato, Spirit, Henry, and Harry hanging out. Carol and Maria are busy preparing for the next season,  organizing paperwork and equipment, and working on the facilities. A few volunteers have been working on projects around the barn and office as well, making some updates and putting up new decorations.

So come check it out! Winter is a great time for recruiting new volunteers, making donations, and strengthening relationships. Every year, hours of work and tons of energy builds each riding session. Hoofbeats is so excited for the Spring 2015 session and we are busy getting ready! It will come faster than you think.

So stay in touch! And check out the volunteer forms on our website if you’re interested or know somebody who is.

By Jinae Kennedy

photo 3

These new decorations by Katie, one of our volunteers, who is blessing us with her professional design skills. Pretty awesome!

photo 1

Blueberry says that it’s pretty cold and soggy out here! Spring come soon!

photo 2

Didemus says he needs a little recuperation too…

Hoofbeats! Come on in!

Hoofbeats! Come on in!

!

#GivingTuesday

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By Jinae Kennedy

Every year, it seems like Thanksgiving gets shorter and shorter. Happy Thanksgiving! – And now it’s time to hit the malls.  One day of feeling thankful, and then the commercial madness sets in.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday… now we even have Gray Thursday?

But thankfully, a new trend is starting. #GivingTuesday. A day for giving back. Today, Dec. 2, a worldwide campaign is encouraging people to kick off this giving season right. Follow the movement on Twitter @GivingTues and follow Hoofbeats’ participation @HoofbeatsTRC.

On this Giving Tuesday, we at Hoofbeats want to say thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, donors, and horses who have already given so much to our mission. Because of you, hundreds of riders have found joyful confidence and experienced healing – physically and emotionally – through horses. Thank you for loving so deeply and for creating such a fun and uplifting environment.

On this #GivingTuesday, you are the world’s inspiration.

But the biggest “thank you’s” go to Hoofbeats director Carol Branscome and assistant instructor Maria Pennine. For them, everyday is a giving day.

What will you do today? If you are already a Hoofbeats volunteer – thank you for your service! Please come back next season for more adventures. You will be blessed. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or if you know others who are interested, check out the Volunteer Information page at https://hoof-beats.com/volunteer.html.

You have time, energy, gifts, and beautiful talents. Whether it is at Hoofbeats or elsewhere, don’t forget to give back this Tuesday.

Let’s be part of a better trend.

One of our college student volunteers, Amanda Dixon,  giving at the TRAV show. And receiving warm horse hugs in return!  #totallyworthit

One of our college student volunteers, Amanda Dixon, giving at the TRAV show. And receiving warm horse hugs in return! #totallyworthit

Congratulations Marsha!

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Hoofbeats Volunteer of the Year, Marsha Lunsford, said she knew that helping people through horses was something she just had to be part of.

Through her dedication to this calling, Lunsford has since made an incredible impact in Virginia communities. She has assisted with Hoofbeats lessons since last March and has gained her certification as a therapeutic riding instructor. She hopes to open her own therapy center in Highland County next spring.

Tucked away in the mountains, Highland County is a more remote area with few accessible healthcare services, Lunsford said. There are no therapeutic riding centers close by. To volunteer at Hoofbeats, Lunsford had to drive an hour and a half each direction.

“I’m hoping to be able to contribute and work with kids and adults, veterans, and meet them where they are,” she said.

Years ago, when she first heard somebody talking about therapeutic riding, she said, “Oh, that’s perfect.” You can see that horses are therapy for everybody, she explained. Giving that opportunity to people with limited experiences is what we should be doing, she said.

After that, she started a file for therapeutic riding. Every time she found an article or a study or picture, it went into the file. With a career background in the behavioral healthcare field, Lunsford was well equipped to combine her passions for horses and serving people.

Determined to follow this calling, she started the process of instructor certification by volunteering at therapy centers in Northern Virginia.

Then, last October, she met Carol Branscome.

At the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia horseshow in Lexington, Lunsford found Carol and told her how much she loved this show and the Hoofbeats riders. “In the back of my mind I was really wishing to work with her,” she said.

Carol recognized a kindred spirit.

Throughout the 2014 riding season, Lunsford has invested her knowledge, experience, and many skills into the Hoofbeats family, assisting with summer session lessons, the VA Special Olympics, and this year’s TRAV show.

On November 14, she was honored with the Hoofbeats Volunteer of the Year Award. Her contributions to the program have been inestimable. But Lunsford said she is thankful for the experience. “That’s really the reward – watching [the riders] enjoy the experience and grow from it,” she said. “I feel so blessed.”

This winter, Lunsford said she will be working on the policies and procedures to obtain official non-profit status to open her therapy center in March.

Congratulations Marsha!

By Beth Jinae Kennedy

Marsha, on the left, helping our riders have a blast during summer session.

Marsha, on the left, helping our riders have a blast during summer session.

Another Successful Season in the Bag

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Can it be November already? Hoofbeats finished another successful riding season last month. It was full of highlights. VA Special Olympics, the Baroque horseshoe, and the Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center of Virginia Show are just a few. Stay tuned for stories and pictures from all these events! More good news, we will soon be publishing a web series on the hearts and faces of Hoofbeats. Come meet the volunteers, staff, riders, and horses that make up our family. These profiles will feature stories, interviews, and pictures. Maybe one will be about you! Definitely stay tuned. Also, don’t forget to follow the new Hoofbeats Twitter @HoofbeatsTRC.

We hit the ground running!

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Pony Club girls head back to the barn for turnbacks

Pony Club girls head back to the barn for turnbacks

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The trail   (fields of flowers!) designed by Maria Pennine.

The trail (fields of flowers!) designed by Maria Pennine.

The Virginia Military Institute , Washington & Lee and James Madison University were out in force!  We love our volunteers!

The Virginia Military Institute , Washington & Lee and James Madison University were out in force! We love our volunteers!

the Rockbridge Hunt Pony Club girls cheer on the Special Olympics!

the Rockbridge Hunt Pony Club girls cheer on the Special Olympics!


Hoofbeats hosted a Special Olympics Session starting March 1 to ready a team to go to the VMI Games to represent the Equestrian Venue. At the same time, the Rockbridge Hunt Pony Club began practice for the Old Dominion Region Dressage Rally the same weekend! Riders from RHPC came early and stayed late helping with Sova lessons. On Friday, April 5th, a four man team arrived at the VHC show grounds at 6:00am to start their competition. On Saturday at 9:00, the rest of our therapy herd and 19 Special Olympians arrived to start their competition!
Everyone did an outstanding job including all riders, all horses, all volunteers, and all of our families, to make everything run smoothing at both venues! The RHPC girls placed second overall in Horse Management and fourth overall in riding. Danielle Midkiff won championship overall in Equitation,Dressage,and trail at the Sova show. Lynda McGarry was the judge this year for Sova. Thank you, Lynda! And Linda Clemments was the hostess with the mostest for the after show Dinner and Dancing! Thank you to everyone who made this great weekend happen! Special thanks to the Lexington Presbyterian Ladies for the wonderful new games and equipment that made the show so colorfull and fun!

2014 Here We Go!

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First Day Back!

First Day Back!


It has been a crazy winter! Let’s hope the Spring and Summer are more what we are used to! Hoofbeats began the session on Saturday March 1 with the Special Olympics team members in lessons and the Rockbridge Hunt Pony Club Dressage Rally team at their first practice as well. Our horses are very hairy and we all feel a little rusty but it was fun to get back in the saddle and especially wonderful to see everyone again!
Many thanks to our terrific and dedicated volunteers, and to all of our new ones, for coming out to help! Also many thanks to the Lexington Presbyterian Ladies for all the much needed new equipment and games!