VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – For the first time in a year, an equine therapy center in Virginia Beach is reopening its doors to its clients.
EQUI-KIDS and EQUI-VETS, located in the same facility off Sandbridge Road, provide therapeutic riding programs for children with mental and physical disabilities and military veterans.
COVID-19 and the required safety regulations forced the center to stop face-to-face lessons because many of their riders require close contact.
“Being able to safely dismount our riders and being able to touch them and support them in the ways that they need while they’re receiving our services are critical to our ability to provide services," explained Stacy Rogers, the Executive Director for EQUI-KIDS and EQUI-VETS.
On Thursday, military veteran Ashley Beck became the first rider to get back in the saddle.
“It’s one of the best things that’s happened all year,” Beck said when talking about getting the chance to return. “It feels really good!”
And when talking about equine therapy and what it’s done for her, Beck described, “It brings you a sense of peace you can’t find anywhere else.”
“Being able to open the barn, see the horses react to people in our stables and be able to provide hands-on services to the folks that are in need is extremely heartwarming and something we’re super excited about,” Rogers added.
While the mission motivates them, Rogers also knows there’s a lot of work ahead. She said, “The services we provide have seen a 100% increase in the amount of people needing our services. Moving forward, the number of people that we’re going to need to serve to help the vulnerable populations that were impacted by this crisis is dramatic, and we need our community and their support in order to move forward.”
EQUI-KIDS and EQUI-VETS is a non-profit that’s funded through community contributions.
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