“Everyone gets her. Everyone accepts her. Everyone likes her. And that means a lot, as a parent.”
“It’s hard to be eleven and a little quirky,” says Tahlia Enstrom's mom, Shira. “[Tahlia] knows she is a little different and she sometimes feels the pressure to fit in.” Tahlia started riding at Bridle Paths when she was eight years old. The Enstroms live in Vienna.
Tahlia’s enthusiasm for Bridle Paths is, well, unbridled, “I enjoy how nice they are. How they accept every member of my family. Even Anders, my little brother.” Tahlia and her family live in Vienna. Tahlia likes to talk to Ty, her special horse there. She is comfortable telling Ty what happened with friends and other things in her life. She explains that while, "he doesn’t say anything back, it’s nice to have someone to talk to.” Ty doesn’t necessarily look at her when she is talking, but she knows he is listening, because he perks his ears up when she speaks. What's it like to converse with Ty? "It feels amazing."
Katie Fallon (Leesburg), founder and president of Bridle Paths, struggled when the pandemic shut-down meant that clients could no longer come to the farm in Leesburg. Bridle Paths is a small program, with clients split between therapeutic riders and those who come for equine assisted psychotherapy, for challenges including traumatic brain injury, trauma, anxiety and depression.
A survey done about a month into the lockdown showed that about fifty percent of Bridle Paths' clients were suffering from emotional and mental health challenges like anxiety and feelings of being disconnected, due to the virus. Nearly that number missed the community that Bridle Paths provides.
Fallon described herself as a caveman as it relates to technology, but Shira Enstrom says she is selling herself short and that Fallon had kept the community well connected through pictures and videos in email and on social media.
Even still, the past few months have been very hard for Tahlia, who started riding when she was eight. Now eleven, riding has been an important part of her weekly routine. She was excited when the Phase One opening meant she could go the farm and have a quick, outdoor visit with Ty. And she is thrilled to be back on her regular schedule at the farm now that Virginia is in Phase Three.
“It's so great to groom [Ty] and ride him again. Covid may have a lot of power but it can’t separate me and Ty!”