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The Early Days: 1980

NVTRP was started in 1980 by a small, but dedicated group of people in Clifton, VA.

Upon seeing the dramatic improvements that students living with special needs were making at a nearby equine-assisted activities and therapy facility, NVTRP founders sought advice on starting a therapeutic riding program in the community of Clifton, VA. After joining NARHA (now Path Intl.), purchasing insurance, and securing permission from the Park Authority to operate in South Run Park, NVTRP was ready to take on its first students as a 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program. 

In the early years everyone was a volunteer and there was barely enough money for dues to the national accrediting organization. Neighbors lent horses, time, and love, and the program grew over time. Some of the thoughtful and generous individuals that helped start and support NVTRP in the beginning are still involved today; folks like Dorothy Dowdy, Jacque Trefry, Theresa and Regina Meade, and Lynn Broadbent, to name a few.

February 15, 1992

Get by with a Little Help From Our Friends

Rita Dunn was a driving force behind the early development of NVTRP. The program was new and didn’t have any horses of its own, so neighbors and friends loaned horses and time to help get the program off the ground. Rita was one of these thoughtful individuals. She donated both her time and her horses from the early 1980’s when she worked with Jacque Trefry at the Fairfax 4H Therapeutic Riding Program as a volunteer, until 2001.

March 1998

NVTRP gets 501(c)(3) status

In 1998, NVTRP officially became its own entity and was no longer a part of the Fairfax 4H program. This was a huge step in realizing the future growth potential of the program. Later that year, NVTRP gained 501(c)(3) status, officially making it a not-for-profit entity. This status means that donations made to NVTRP are tax deductible.

June 2001

NVTRP Enters a New Period of Growth

As NVTRP’s success grew, the board of governors saw a need for someone to oversee the daily needs of the program and hired Breeana Borhorst as the sole fulltime staff member in June of 2001. Over the next ten years the program grew from a small operation with two horses, 15 riders, and limited volunteers to a thriving program with 14 horses, over 100 riders per week, and a database of over 700 volunteers who want to help. Since 2001, the staff has grown steadily over time and NVTRP now employs four full-time staff members, five part-time staff members, a team of amazing instructors and therapists, and summer interns.

September 20, 2005

First Annual Ride to Thrive Horse Show

NVTRP started the Ride to Thrive Horse Show in 2005 so that local riders of all abilities would have the opportunity to compete in a horse show. It was the perfect way for NVTRP riders and riders from other local therapeutic riding programs to show off their skills in front of their friends and family!

July 19, 2007

NVTRP Experiences a Barn Fire

On July 19th, 2007 NVTRP experienced a barn fire. Thankfully no people or horses were seriously injured, however the barn and all of the riding equipment used for lessons was destroyed. The community rallied around NVTRP and donated the use of two “foster” barns in Clifton and also donated the use of equipment. Within six weeks of the fire the program was up and running again! There is always a silver lining to every cloud. The outpouring of generosity, hard work, love, and enthusiasm that the community demonstrated for NVTRP was overwhelming. NVTRP will always be grateful for the tremendous amount of support and kindness it was shown during this difficult time.

December 2007

NVTRP Moves to Little Full Cry Farm

At the end of 2007 Randy Dillon invited NVTRP to move to his farm, Little Full Cry Farm, in Clifton, VA. It became clear to everyone involved that this was a special place, and there started the dream and the drive to make it NVTRP’s permanent home. The dream became reality when NVTRP, with help and donations from the community, was able to purchase the farm in January 2012. The purchase marked the program’s first permanent operating home since its founding in 1980. Little Full Cry Farm was the former home of Junior Equitation School, the renowned equestrian program owned and operated by the late Jane M. Dillon.

March 10, 2009

Peachy Keen Becomes a Community Ambassador

n honor of her 30th birthday celebration in 2009, NVTRP made its beloved pony, Peachy Keen, a Community Ambassador. Peachy Keen, aka “Peaches,” has reached out to people of all ages while traveling to schools, festivals, and other fun events in the community to teach them about her job as a therapeutic instructor and the many benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapy.

September 19, 2010

NVTRP Celebrates a Milestone

NVTRP celebrated 30 years of service working with individuals with disabilities on September 19, 2010. The Clifton Town Council designated this day as “Peachy Keen Day” to honor NVTRP’s Community Ambassador, Peachy Keen, who has been teaching therapeutic riding lessons in the Clifton community for over twenty years. Hundreds of riders have benefited from riding Peachy Keen, all while improving their balance, muscular strength, social skills, and confidence.

January 5, 2012

NVTRP Purchases Little Full Cry Farm in
Clifton, VA

In January 2012, NVTRP was able to recognize a dream come true when it purchased Little Full Cry Farm, a 17-acre farm it had been operating out of since a barn fire displaced them from their previous home in 2007. The purchase marks the program’s first permanent home since its inception in 1980.

October 20, 2016

Little Full Cry Farm Becomes O'Shaughnessy Farm

NVTRP unveils new sign to display the new name of the farm, O'Shaughnessy Farm, in honor of the O'Shaughnessy-Hurst Memorial Foundation, the largest donor to support the purchase of the property for NVTRP.


The Present

NVTRP has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1980. Its programs have touched the lives of thousands of individuals and families including riders, volunteers, instructors and interns. Motivated by the needs of its families, NVTRP has goals to build an indoor riding ring to provide year-round services, which will include a viewing area for parents and improved and expanded parking facilities. The building project will also include an accessible playground. These efforts will allow NVTRP to expand its offerings in therapeutic horsemanship and hippotherapy. To learn more, visit our capital campaign site.

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