The logo which SPIRIT uses now was created at the end of the 20th century, as a vision of helping people to heal, grow and learn using interaction with horses.
The symbol of a person with a disability is connected with the symbol of a rider which, throughout history, has represented a strong, powerful person. Davorka Suvak founded MOGU (I CAN), one of the first therapeutic riding non profit organizations in the Balkans. The core vision of MOGU and subsequently SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program is that horses can help people of all ages and abilities to heal, grow and learn.
Davorka Suvak was the coach of the Croatian National Para Equestrian Team and Croatian riders successfully competed at the international and world level. The team earned participation at the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Athens and Beijing. Davorka published three books about her vision and accomplishments in Equine Assisted Activities, and she presented her work at the International Congress at Budapest, Hungary and the Council of EU, Strasbourg, FRA.
Founder of MOGU and SPIRIT, Davorka Suvak, transferred the Vision and Mission from Croatia to the United States. The Suvak family moved to the United States in 2005 and SPIRIT was founded by a group of friends and supporters who recognized the power of Horsemanship of a New Age. The group was dedicated to utilizing the interaction with horses to benefit increasing issues in society and to help heal and grow the body, mind and spirit through Equine Assisted Activities.
December 22nd – The first horse Spirit the Mare was purchased at Marshall Livestock Exchange.
Program activities started immediately while the founding group worked on documentation to register SPIRIT as a VA non profit and 501(c)(3) organization.
SPIRIT was granted access to 2 acres in Great Falls to use at no charge as the first sign of community support of our Mission.
February 17th we were granted the status of a 501(c)(3 ) organization. The Program moved to the Middleburg/Purcellville area (SPIRIT helped start Golden Dreams Therapeutic Riding Program) and then moved back to Great Falls.
SPIRIT moved from Herndon to Aldie where we helped to start Sprout Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center. Later in the year, SPIRIT moved back to Herndon VA where we rented land and a farm house adjacent to Frying Pan Farm Park in preparation for the launch of the pilot program with Fairfax County Park Authority.
The pilot program to collaborate with Fairfax County Park Authority to deliver Therapeutic Riding and Equine Assisted Learning / Beginner lessons at the Frying Pan Farm Park Equestrian Center begins.
A 5 year contract is awarded to SPIRIT as a vendor for FCPA.
The contract with FCPA is renewed for the next 7 years. Our herd has grown to 14 horses and SPIRIT provides Equine Assisted Activities to over 300 members of the local community including youth, seniors and veterans.
The rental agreement for our farm and office near Frying Pan Farm Park ends because the property was sold for development.
March – After several months, FCPA and SPIRIT negotiated a rental agreement for SPIRIT to locate the horses and barns on site at Frying Pan Farm Park. The transition has not been without challenges as the process for providing water is laborious, electricity is limited to what we provide with solar power and the admin/office or gathering space for our organization is limited to a tack shed using a phone for internet access. With the extraordinary support from Patty and Huey Sullivan and many others, SPIRIT purchased 8 acres on Compton Rd to create and expand a future Home for SPIRIT. Operations will continue at Frying Pan Farm Park, the Home for SPIRIT – Sully Farm on Compton Rd will enable SPIRIT to expand and provide services to the community which can not be provided in a public park setting.
SPIRIT serves over 300 participants in three main programs – Therapeutic Riding, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning. SPIRIT’s program thrives with the help of over 200 volunteers who provide over 10,000 service hours annually. The excellent feedback and testimonials from families and clients served and the enormous support of the local community continue to encourage and invigorate our vision of growth for the future.
SPIRIT’s strength is in our diversity of program activities, our highly devoted and motivated staff, our volunteers and our ideal location in the Metro NoVA area. The transition from a small to medium sized non profit organization, the development of Sully Farm, the growth of our programs and collaboration with local government serve as the inspiration and energy for the SPIRIT Team’s journey ahead.