It seems like just yesterday that we were discussing either closing the rescue down or moving it to a new location. The opportunity to rent a farm in Fredericksburg sort of fell in our laps and the decision was made that we would continue operating but in a new location under my management of the day to day operations. Cindy, aka mom, would continue to provide guidance and support as she had done since the foundation of Central Virginia Horse Rescue in 2010. The move presented quite a few challenges that we worked hard to over come.
The farm that we leased was in rough shape as it had not been well maintained for the previous few years. The fences were falling down. The barns needed A LOT of work. The equipment needed work. Donations were down. We started out with no volunteer base and had to try to build one in the middle of a global pandemic. We faced an mounting uphill battle but we were determined to continue the good work that CVHR had done for the previous 10 years.
Despite all of the challenges we plugged ahead and brought in a good foundation of volunteers despite the pandemic. We built new relationships with vendors here in Fredericksburg. And as the months went by we found our way.
We want to again thank TYL Restoration for their community service project helping to restore the pasture fences and hay barn so that we could expand our herd and store hay that was going to be needed through the winter months. TYL took on the project and had teams here for a week taking down the old fences and prepping the new fences for the volunteers to come in and complete the work. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate for the second planned weekend and after 2 reschedules we had to cancel the community service days but their team still finished the project with their employees.
As the year marched on, so did the rescue. We slowly built our volunteer team and continued to work on and fix areas of the farm that needed work. We had our fair share of wins and losses during 2020. We saw an increase in the number of owner surrenders coming in as people were hit by the pandemic and were struggling to keep their horses. We helped the ones we could while maintaining a responsible herd size of our own.
We made it all the way through until the end of the year before COVID finally hit home at the rescue when I was diagnosed with COVID the last week of December. This was one week after we brought in 6 horses from a local kill pen and in the middle of dealing with a horse suffering from choking incidents that we couldn’t get under control and determine a cause for. We had a handful of new volunteers that were still in training, 6 horses that were in quarantine and were requiring special handling due to various medical issues one of which had to be fed 6 times a day and I was out of commission for 2 weeks. Our volunteer team stepped up, put in the extra time and hours and found a way to ensure that the horses were cared for in the way that they needed to be but this made us realize that even though we were still in the middle of a pandemic, we needed more help.
We came up with a plan and we made the official announcement, Central Virginia Horse Rescue has moved to Fredericksburg and we are accepting new volunteers. The community did not disappoint and reminded us why we felt the move from Brunswick County to Fredericksburg would be a good one. In one week we received more volunteer inquiries than the rescue had received in the previous 10 years combined. We came up with a way to safely do the volunteer orientations, found a way to schedule volunteers to help with feeding shifts and I’m happy to say that as of today, one year later after our move we have a base of approximately 120 volunteers. We have volunteers who travel from as far away as Springfield and Alexandria in order to spend time at the farm.
Our herd numbers seem to fluctuate between 15 and 25. We now have 6 horses that are part of our Youth Enrichment, Barn Kids Club, program. These horses are here to help teach kids how to care for and handle horses. Through our Youth Enrichment program, several have learned valuable handling skills that has helped them as they progress into riding lessons at local lesson barns. They have gained friendships that we hope will last a lifetime. The teens are able to spend days at the farm learning skills from horse handling to cleaning tack and other important parts of horse care and management.
Over the last year, we have taken in 54 horses to Fredericksburg and we have been able to successfully place 5 horses into foster homes and we adopted out 23 horses to loving homes. We have formed a partnership with Advantage Horsemanship to provide training assistance to our volunteer team and a special offer directly from Scott for our adopters. This offer gives every adopter with Central Virginia Horse Rescue a free 3 month membership to Scott’s Leadership Club providing them with a wealth of resources and training videos to help make their adoption successful. (Information on what is included in Scott’s Leadership Club can be found here: Leadership Club)
We continue to look forward to what the next year may bring as well. We have been working on bringing back some of our programs that we have had great success with in the past. Now that we are able to safely do so, we are focusing on our Auction to Adoption program that will give us a chance to help bring horses into the rescue before they land in the hands of the kill buyers. Our Barn Kids Club has been a huge success within our local community and we are always looking for ways that we can continue to provide knowledge and experiences to the participating kids. We have several community events planned at the rescue and our Trail Ride team has been investigating places that will give us the opportunity to start hosting benefit trail rides again.
Thank you to everyone who continues to support Central Virginia Horse Rescue and our mission. Your support allows us to continue to provide the necessary horse care and the education to our community. We hope to see some of you at our 11th anniversary birthday celebration on July 17th at our Fredericksburg farm.