Movern Park, located in Leesburg, is best known for being the beautiful estate and farm of the 55th Virginia Governor, Westmoreland Davis. The park was a Civil War rallying point for soldiers from Mississippi who fought along the Potomac River, a large free-range farm and Virginia Tech's equestrian center. The more than 1,000-acre facility has home to one of the United States' most impressive carriage collections. A little known fact, according to Keith Payne, a tour guide at Morven Park is that when Governor Davis, a populist supported by farmers, purchased The Southern Planter he was among the first publisher who created a section for women. The section included household tips and recipes to make the work of raising children easier.
"Davis recognized the high rate of mental depression among women," Keith Payne, a Morven Park tour guide said. "It was because the woman's responsibility was to take care of many children."
Governor Davis supported education for women in Virginia prior to the success of the women's suffrage movement. He supported women's programs at James Madison University, Mary Washington College, Longwood College and Radford University. Governor Davis's wife's family faced mental health issues. Her sister suffered from mental health problems.
Keeping in the tradition of focus on helping people and the family's struggles with mental illness, the Morven Park Foundation has teamed up with the Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation to offer therapeutic riding to help people with physical, psychological and cognitive disabilities improve their lives by riding horses through the beautiful grounds of the mansion, its wooded areas, gardens and farms.
The horse serves as a tool, as much as it does a form of treatment. The individuals who participate get a chance to build trust, face trauma and learn to take care of others through riding. Research has shown that theraputic riding has helped those with postraumatic stress disorder, autism, Asperger's syndrome, generalized anxiety and depression, as well as at-risk teens. As we look for opportunities to help our clients, theraputic riding referrals are one of our great resources.