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'We wanted to bring them some joy' | NoVa horse riding program uses social media to share support and happiness throughout coronavirus crisis

The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program has been a staple in Clifton Virginia for forty years.

CLIFTON, Va. — The spread of the coronavirus is not only impacting stores and restaurants, but also non-profits across the DMV. 

For forty years, the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program has helped to recover military personnel, at-risk youth and people with disabilities. Now they are forced to temporarily move those services online, showcasing the adorable creatures in live streams and positive messaging.

Located in Clifton, Virginia, the non-profit brings strength and joy to the community.

 "We found it makes a huge difference to the clients who come out but then it also has an impact on the whole family," Executive Director Kelsey Gallagher said. 

"When they are with the horses it brings a sense of calm and peace then they are then able to bring that back to their family life," she continued.

Following the spread of the coronavirus, they've been forced to suspend operations at the farm and look for new ways to serve their community.

"This has had a huge impact on our organization not to have our clients out at the farm benefiting from our services," Gallagher mentioned. "They are growing stronger from being with the horses."

Gallagher said they decided to bring those services online, a chance to stay involved with the community while still practicing social distancing. 

"We wanted to find a way to still connect with our clients and our volunteers. We have 150 volunteers who come out every week to help with everything," said Gallagher.

Credit: Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program

Twice a week they bring viewers onto the farm through a show on Facebook called "Teddy Time.

" The virtual classes start at 2 o'clock every Tuesday and Thursday on the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program Facebook page.

They do reading time, craft hour and are even planning a workout class with Teddy the horse. It is a chance for people to learn about horses and most importantly, it is a way for families to connect with the farm and the animals. 

"We wanted to stay connected and bring the joy of horses to the community while people are stuck at home and sheltering in place. We wanted to bring them some joy," said Gallagher.

Credit: Nicole DiAntonio

"To not be able to operate means we are not getting the income that we rely on so we wanted to let everyone know we are here and hopefully open up that door for them to support the organization and support the horses," Gallagher said.

If you would like to contact the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program or help donate to the organization, click here.

Credit: Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program

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