The Trustees of the Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation, which oversees Morven Park, recently approved a new long-term lease for fellow non-profit Loudoun Therapeutic Riding to remain at Morven Park for up to 90 more years. The lease also permits the organization to build desperately needed new facilities to serve its waiting list of people hoping to benefit from its services.
The lease provides Loudoun Therapeutic Riding (LTR) the use of 15 acres of Morven Park property just off of Route 15 for 30 years, with options to renew for two additional 30-year terms.
The relationship between the two equestrian organizations dates back to 1974 when one of the country’s first pilot programs offering equine-assisted therapy for people with disabilities used 4-H horses and ponies to hold its first lessons at Morven Park.
Soon afterward, that small program was incorporated as a non-profit called Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation and moved to a local farm. In 1995, LTR was invited back to Morven. Since then, Morven Park has provided the growing organization with barns, paddocks, and riding arenas, as well as office space, maintenance assistance, and utilities in support of LTR’s mission.
As LTR’s programs have grown, so too have Morven Park’s, placing increased demands on the Park’s facilities and challenging the ability of each organization to meet clients’ and participants’ needs. With this new lease in place, LTR can move forward with plans to build its own dedicated barn, riding arena, and offices, enabling the organization to offer its services seven days a week on a year-round basis.
“This commitment ensures that Loudoun Therapeutic Riding has a home for many years to come, plus has its own dedicated space, allowing it to expand to meet the growing needs of the community,” said Morven Park Executive Director Frank Milligan.
“Demand for our services has grown throughout our 41 years serving Loudoun County, so we are thrilled to move forward with this project,” said LTR Executive Director Joanne Hart. “We will be able to grow and enhance our existing equine activities, therapies, and education; to practice even more aspects of horsemanship and equine experiential learning; and to meet the needs of more individuals within our community. “
The next step for LTR is to begin engineering work on its new site to prepare for construction of its new facilities. “We hope to break ground sometime in 2016,” said Hart.
Steven Jackson, a Morven Park Trustee and chair of its Properties Committee, worked for many months to finalize the lease agreement and was happy to see this long-term commitment come to fruition. “For me personally, strengthening this alliance has been very rewarding because the mission of LTR to serve the community through equestrian activities fits perfectly with the mission of Morven Park.”
Now in its 42nd year, Loudoun Therapeutic Riding serves more than 350 participants annually, utilizing 14 horses and ponies. The individuals served (which include children as young as 3, senior citizens, and U.S. military personnel) arrive with a wide variety of diagnoses such as autism, cognitive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Down’s syndrome, spina bifida, traumatic brain injuries, and amputations.
The chairman of LTR’s Board of Trustees, Tony Wininger, is also the parent of a child who participates in LTR programs. “We are so thankful to have a generous partner like the Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation,” said Wininger, “We look forward to an exciting future at Morven Park and to working to build an incredible facility that will help us make a significant impact in the lives of those we serve.”
Both Loudoun Therapeutic Riding and Morven Park are independent non-profit organizations that depend on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to fulfill their community-focused missions.