Local nonprofit loses its prized horses in fire

RAPHINE,Va. – Judy Zwart, owner and instructor of SpiritHorse Shenandoah Valley Therapeutic Riding Center is standing in what is left of her beloved barn.

"The horses will come first and they will eat before we will,” said Zwart.

She lost half of her horses in an electrical fire.
She calls them her babies.

"I'll have to hear their screams for the rest of my life, that’s what I hear,” said Zwart.

SpiritHorse is a nonprofit organization that relies on its horses to provide private free therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults.

They help people with a variety of medical conditions, including PTSD and autism. 

“I cannot change their routine. We are talking about special needs children or kids who been through divorce. If we  try to use other peoples' horses we are going to mess them up,” Zwart said.

She says they are not sure what is next, because the barn was not insured and it will cost at least $18,000 to rebuild, not including needed equipment.

“It costs around $6,000 a month for the number of horses. We have a farrier bill every month which is like $2,000 a month. And of course all of the equipment we have to replace, we use a lot of saddles, bridles, and helmets,” said Krystal Carr, volunteer.

The organization says it has no plans to close, but with more than 50 people in the program, SpiritHorse is asking for the community’s help and donations.

“Just help us rebuild and let us know what we have done will not go down and the magical seven will live on,” said Zwart.