AFTON — The first annual Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue Family Fun Day allowed a group of 20 people to come to the Nelson County farm Saturday to visit the rescued animals, go on a scavenger hunt and learn more about the organization.
It was the first of many other days like it, organizers said. The event is sold out in August and September but spots are still open for the event in October and November.
Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue, on Castle Rock Road in Afton, was founded in 2008 when it took in its first donkey. Since then it has taken in over 300 horses, ponies, mules and donkeys.
Maya Proulx, executive director, said she was excited for the Family Fun Day and hoped it would be a good way to introduce new people to the horses and the rescue.
“I’m also thrilled that our volunteers are able to come up with a safe way to host these small events,” she said. “It will be the first time since March that we have been able to have visitors at the farm.”
Courtney Thompson, who helped organize the event and serves on the farm’s leadership team said the Family Fun Day was originally planned for March but due to COVID-19 it was pushed back.
The idea came from calls from parents asking to bring their kids out to see the horses. Thompson said the event is geared toward families with younger children who love horses but there is no age limit.
“We thought it would be more fun to do a family event instead of a regular tour,” she said. “We wanted to give them a fun, free event and the farm is beautiful. Come out and explore the outdoors.”
Even before COVID-19 or social distancing was happening, Thompson said the intent was to always make the event a small and intimate one for groups of no more than 20 people, who must sign up in advance first.
“We wanted it to be more of a special one-on-one kind of thing,” she said.
The groups will have a chance to complete a scavenger hunt and also learn about the rescue and horses while volunteers are on site to answer any questions. She hopes the event creates some awareness for what the farm does on a regular basis.
Meghan and Tim Troxler and their 3-year-old daughter, Callie, traveled from Stuarts Draft to Saturday’s event.
“[Callie] loves horses and we thought it would be a great way to support the rescue and just come out to check it out. We love it,” Meghan Troxler said.
At one of the horse pens, Meghan Troxler held her daughter as the two feed grass to the 15-year-old thoroughbred, Logan.
The family was able to visit the different horse pens, view a horse grooming, visit two donkeys and learn about the rescue.
“We will definitely come back,” Meghan Troxler said. “We like being outside and doing stuff on Saturdays.”
Just this year the rescue has taken in 41 equines from all over Virginia and adopted about 20 out.
“We take them in, rehabilitate them, give them medical care, retrain them and the goal is to adopt them out to wonderful homes,” she said.
Events are held from 10 a.m. to noon and each family gets to visit a field and is told about the rescue and the horses and watch a grooming demonstration.
“We really wanted to create awareness about Hope’s Legacy especially this year with donations down, we try to do several fundraisers each year but one was moved and another we had to postpone,” Thompson said.
She said the organization tries to be an educational resource for pony clubs and 4H groups to provide education on how to avoid some of the situations staff members see a lot.