I have a great experience so far (current volunteer). There is a great mission here to connect the bond between human and horse. I really enjoy giving back to my community and this place has allowed me to use my skill sets just the way I wanted.
Wonderful program which gives kids with special needs an experience that really makes them happy. Wonderful volunteer staff and gentle horses really make this place at Frying Pan Park a great one.
The Spirit Open Equestrian program adds immeasurable value to our community and we are so fortunate to have been able to benefit from the opportunities to both receive the services provided by this program as well as to give back through volunteering there as well. Part of the beauty of the program is the way giving and receiving are all interwoven throughout the program and all are beneficiaries of the remarkable good that this program does for mind, body, and spirit on an individual as well as on a community level. Our young adolescent son, who was struggling with multiple physical challenges and related social/emotional struggles, started out as a client and over the years has participated in every aspect of the program , from Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, to Therapeutic Riding, and the Equine Assisted Learning Program. The experiences were life-changing for him, as he transitioned from hardly being able to get up off the couch into a young man who walked tall, with a sense of purpose, and felt a remarkable sense of calm, confidence, and purpose though his work at the barn amongst the Spirit Herd and the supportive "family" created by the director, Davorka Suvak. No longer in need of services, today he is a volunteer who feels confident and self-assured, and also knows that he always has a home at Spirit. Spirit is a rare gem in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this fast-paced area that allows people of all ages and abilities to slow down, enjoy nature, gain skills and a sense of well-being, whether on the giving or the receiving end of the activities offered amongst the beautiful Spirit Herd. I can't say enough good things about this organization.
Dada and company have helped my son gain confidence and strength with their wonderful program. I can not repay them for all their support and guidance in getting him to where he is now.
It is so rewarding to watch the growth of this program which emphasizes a focus on ability rather than disability. Volunteers, clients, the Board of Directors and committee members, friends in the community and the Program Director work side by side to ensure a safe and enriching life experience. Take the time to investigate SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program for yourself or your loved ones. It provides life changing opportunities for all ages.
Truly an amazing non-profit that puts the needs of its clients and therapy animals first and foremost. The staff, BoD and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure the success of current programs while at the same time, working towards a brighter future to serve more of the needs of the community.
SPIRIT is a program that serves the needs of children, youth and families, veterans and seniors. It provides Therapeutic services, Equine Assisted Learning and Activities and beginner riding lessons to the Community with the help of many dedicated volunteers. The true gift of SPIRIT is the caring, warmth and true concern of all who work with those receiving services.
EXCELLENT non-profit program! The Staff/Instructors are compassionate with their love for humanity as well as animals...so very apparent. My 12 year old daughter was a little fearful at first, but with the guidance and assurance from Spirit - she lovesssssssssss it! As a recipient of the Junior National Honor Society as well as a volunteer with Best Buddies, she will be able to take part within Spirit and volunteer her services to assist the special needs children that also partake in this wonderful program! Spirit has helped my daughter build up her self esteem and looks forward to mastering the equestrian sport. The instructors are top notch, knowledgeable, kind and devoted to their profession. I applaud Spirit Open Equestrian!!!
I started volunteering with Spirit Open Equestrian Program in middle school, nine years ago. As an aspiring veterinarian, I am incredibly lucky to have gotten the opportunity to work with horses and people of all different ages and backgrounds. The skills learned and the friendships I have made as a volunteer have followed me ever since. Coming in to Spirit, I was really excited to work with horses and help disabled riders benefit from hippotherapy, but I did not expect to grow so much myself. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have worked with such kind hearted, inspiring people, who have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others (both four legged and two). Davorka Suvak has transformed too many lives to count with her program, and I am so incredibly grateful to have been a part of it growing up. Seeing children bond with horses and overcome their personal challenges is one of the most beautiful things anyone can see in this world and I feel truly honored to have been able to see so many grow in the saddle. Thank you Dada, for everything!
Our daughter has participated in the Spirit Open Equestrian Program for 6 years as a rider and a volunteer. As a rider, she improved her core muscles, ability to follow directions, and self confidence, while learning how to ride, including communication with her assigned horse. She has progressed from being led by volunteers to riding on her own. Periodic shows allow riders to show off their skills; it's a great confidence builder. As a volunteer, she learned important job skills such as the importance of being on time, dressing for the weather, following the supervisor's directions, and doing her best work. Dada, the program director, has a special way with each rider, regardless of ability, and creates a positive and caring environment in which to blossom. And she is a great horse woman who rescues horses that are headed to the slaughter because of injury, illness or abuse, and patiently trains each one to work with her special riders. The volunteers and staff are very caring and dedicated to helping each rider perform to best of ability. We are very grateful for this marvelous program and support it whole-heartedly.
The people at Spirit are wonderful and full of compassion and energy. They serve a huge range of people, old and young, with all levels of ability, and all of them are taken care of in a supportive and nurturing environment that fosters growth and healing.
They do a great deal of incredible and selfless work and don't receive nearly the amount of recognition they deserve. Truly a hidden gem of the area that I'm sure will grow to shine even brighter to a wider audience in the times ahead.
Spirit Open Equestrian has had an amazing impact on our daughter. She struggles with self control and social issues. The mentors at Spirit have helped guide her and have been role models. She has developed special bonds with he horses and mentors. We live in the Herndon community near the park. Having this program is something that is special and we feel truly blessed. As a parent and as a teacher I have rarely seen anything impact my child or children as much as Spirit has. We love this program.
My daughters are competitive riders. In Middle School for the National Honor Society they had a service hour requirement. Marrying their love of horses to their need for service is how we became involved at Spirit.My girls lead and side walk, groom, muck, ride, smile and laugh and come home renewed and joyful. Spirit is as healing for my overly busy, overly competitive, stressed out teens as it is for any of the clients it serves. It is an invitation to be fully in the moment with the horses, the other volunteers and clients. It is a rejeuvenating time filled with sharing and working along without worring about performance. Spirit has been a wonderful, grounding addition to our lives.
My 13 year old has benefitted from all of the programs offered by SPIRIT for a truly holostic approach to mental health issues (anxiety, depression, social isolation) and related physical problems (chronic pain). We have seen a complete turnaround in our young teen's mood, confidence, and ability to fully participate in and enjoy life again. Through therapeutic riding, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, and Equine Assisted Learning, he has found a safe and loving community among the horses and the peers and adults who share his love for them.
My 13 year-old daughter has been a part of the SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program for about three months now and I already see a difference in her. She is part of the Equine-Assisted Learning Program. Before joining SPIRIT, she was making very poor choices in the people she chose to associate with, was very disrespectful to her father and I, and was very quick to have her anger escalate into a full-on tantrum like you would see from a two year old. She held the family hostage as we would never know if we would get the kind, sweet soul we knew she could be, or the sullen, disrespectful teen she was becoming. She had a very low self-esteem despite all of the love and opportunities and support we gave her at home.
When I first met with Dada to talk about the program to see if it might be a good fit for my daughter, I could tell she truly cared. She sat with me and listened to my struggles and I could tell she really cared. She helped come up with a way to bring this program up with my daughter. You see, my daughter refuses therapy. After talk-therapy failed multiple times, I tried art therapy because she always has pencils and artist markers in her hands. However, because the word 'therapy' was involved, she refused to talk to the therapist and it became an epic battle. Dada encouraged me to not use the work 'therapy' when it came to talking about SPIRIT. I brought it up in a way that it appeared to be my daughter's idea and she loved it! This was through Dada's guidance! I would have brought it up wrong and ruined any chance of success!!
Well, my daughter LOVES to come to SPIRIT and comes as often as possible. She has been less argumentative with me and her father. She chooses SPIRIT over hanging out with the kids we prefer her not to hang out with. She is learning how to handle herself better by helping the adults help the special needs students. She is gaining confidence in her abilities as she learns to care for horses. She is learning to push through her own medical condition which can cause chronic fatigue, stomach pains, body pains, etc.
This program has been such a blessing to us. We are seeing parts of our daughter that we feared were gone. These teen years are not going to be easy, but I strongly feel that, with the help of SPIRIT, we might just make it through!
Review from Guidestar
I began volunteering for SPIRIT a few years ago--just for the summer. Well, it's a few years later and I'm still with SPIRIT, but year-round. It's that kind of an organization.
Review from Guidestar
Spirit resonates with you from the moment you meet one of the horses, volunteers, clients, or any other member of the family. A tremendous amount of work and love go in to the program, delivering tangible results. I have experienced personal growth, and witnessed the growth of others. Kudos to Spirit!
Miracles happen on this little horse farm. Volunteering has never been more rewarding. The youth, the horses, the staff and the vision of the Program Director make this program truly exceptional. Your spirit will open when you visit Spirit Open Equestrian Program.
Excellent therapeutic riding program. Staff and volunteers are dedicated and very caring. Results are phenomenal. View their videos!
As Churchill said, "There's something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
This summer the team at SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program is providing over 100 individual session hours each week. And THAT is a whole lot of good!