SpiritHorse Shenandoah Valley begins to rebuild after deadly fire

By Lezla Gooden - Reporter

RAPHINE,Va. - Just a month ago a fire killed several horses and a destroyed a barn at the SpiritHorse Shenandoah Valley therapeutic riding center.

Since then the community is helping to make sure it rises from the ashes.

"We have gotten a lot of support, and we still need it, but it's still overwhelming," said Judith Zwart, owner of SpiritHorse Shenandoah Valley.

The SpiritHorse family has been dealing with grief and loss, but is on the road to recovery by building their new barn.

The electrical fire killed half of their therapy horses that they now call the magical seven.
 A wall in the new barn will be dedicated to them.

Since then, they have been given two new horses, Rocky and Phoenix.

 “The name Phoenix means to rise from the ashes. So for Phoenix to be donated, and his name was already Phoenix, it was like a sign that everything was going to be OK,” said CEO Brenda Spillers of SpiritHorse Shenandoah Valley. 

Thanks to the community's support, the nonprofit has raised $30,000 to start building the new barn.

 “This barn will have exterior doors and also interior doors to get the horses out. We are not taking a chance of not being able to get the horses out in case there is an accident inside. We'll also utilize a riding area inside,” said Edwin Zwart, owner and operator of SpiritHorse Shenandoah Valley.

The nonprofit is still need of the community's help to finish construction.

“We are looking at another $30,000 just to be able to build all the stalls and replace the equipment lost in the fire,” said Spillers.

It will take more than just money to get things going again.  People in the community have proven willing to give a helping hand.

“We got church groups and stuff that are going to come and they don't know how to build a barn, but we will take care of that,” said Judith.

Although the barn will not be built by the time their sessions restart in mid-August, they hope to have it up before winter.

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