Windrush Farm Added Another Run-In Shed | Horizon Structures

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When One Horizon Structures Run-In Shed Just Isn’t Enough

By Ivo Krtalic, 08/21/2020 - 5:08am

Blog By Nikki Alvin-Smith


HayThe venerable Windrush Farm, located on the Boxford/ North Andover line at Massachusetts, was in search of extra shelter for their 20 lesson horses following the Covid-19 crisis shutdown of their renowned therapeutic riding program. C.E.O., Janet Nittmann, was quick to take action to secure additional resources to keep the horses happy and safe.

“It was a rush to secure extra shelter for the horses so we could keep them moving and self-exercising by offering more turn-out time. As our clients could no longer visit, it was imperative that the horses not be left standing in stalls and it mitigated costs of bedding and the need for labor to stall clean, by moving the horses to a 24/7 outdoor lifestyle. We already had the 1st run-in shed built by Horizon Structures on the property that is well built and we love it. It arrived this Spring and was purchased with a grant from the Catholic Human Services Foundation. I turned to Horizon again and asked our patrons and sponsors to help fund the unexpected expense. The response from our generous anonymous donors was heart-warming, and Horizon Structures also donated $1000 towards the purchase price to help us out. We are so grateful for all the donations that were made to support Windrush during this particularly challenging time,” explained Nittmann.

HayAnyone who has ever met or spoken with Janet Nittmann, knows that she is full of great ideas and positive energy. A Brit, who has called the U.S.A. home for over 20 years, Nittmann’s leadership and wealth of marketing experience has been put to good use at the helm of Windrush Farm. 

“I feel so lucky to have been working in the horse industry for over 16 years. I was the Senior Communications Director for Dover Saddlery from 2003 to 2016, and later in 2016 I landed the position of C.E.O. at Windrush Farm. Marjorie Kittredge founded Windrush Farm, in Boxford, MA in 1964. In fact, today we are training students who tell us their parent or grandparent used to ride at the farm. How remarkable a legacy is that!  Marj was a true pioneer in the therapeutic riding industry and Windrush Farm is one of the oldest therapeutic riding centers in the United States. Marj, an accomplished rider herself had a vision to challenge riders facing physical and emotional challenges,” said Nittman.

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Today, Windrush Farm serves on average 700 clients per year. A stunning number that can be attributed to the constant efforts of the 501(c)3 company team, to develop new strategies to bring better and better experiences to their clientele.

“For clients facing physical challenges riding improves posture, strength, coordination and balance. For clients facing emotional challenges and anxiety, working with horses promotes confidence, independence, and wellbeing. We help our clients to believe they are capable than more than they think. Children come from the Perkins School for the blind and show us how not to let a disability hold you back! Riding provides comfort, freedom and joy.”

Many businesses have suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic and Windrush Farm is no exception.

“We had to close in March and have not been able to return to normal since then. It is very disappointing that we are not able to serve our clients and fulfill our mission and this has affected us financially as we have had no revenue from programs since March. Our sponsors and community have been brilliant helping us out. We are so grateful for their generosity. There have been many challenges and hurdles for us to overcome during this crisis. Not least when out of an abundance of caution we opted to run the entire farm with staff only, and not invite our usual loyal band of volunteers to come to the farm. This meant everyone had to step up and do different jobs than they were used to doing. I have been so impressed with how our staff have given their all, and how everyone has come together to ensure we can continue.”

When asked what advice she would give to other therapeutic riding programs to get through the Covid19 crisis Nittmann had this to impart:

“My biggest tip is to stay in touch with your clients, volunteers and staff via email, phone calls and zoom calls as communication is key to see how everyone is doing.”

While the farm has been closed to patrons and volunteers, the Windrush Farm personnel have not been sitting idle. 

“Just like other folks have used their unexpected time at home to clean out attics and garages, and work on their homes, we have been busy doing the same. Our barn has had a deep clean, tack and blankets have been mended. We also added a second row of windows to the indoor, that I believe our clients will very much appreciate when they return. Our indoor is very large, but the additional light makes it so much airier, brighter and more cheerful. Meantime our instructors have kept the horses ridden and ready to go back to work, after the horses had enjoyed a brief holiday in the fields.”

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Naturally, the pandemic has raised many concerns for the clients of Windrush Farm in regard to returning to the facility when it reopens.

“The safety of our clients, volunteers and employees is our highest priority and we will have many new protocols for our fall session which starts on September 21. These will include reducing class sizes, requiring that all riders wear a mask, bring their own helmet and complete a health screening form upon arrival. We are currently booking lessons by phone so we can address any particular concerns an individual has for their particular needs, as well as online where you can download forms that need completion, such as a health screening form. 

We have updated our website to provide the resources and answers that our clients need to step back into the arena. Our offices are located away from the main barn, so closing them for access by patrons is not a difficult thing to do, but we will have everything in place to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable returning. We have implemented lots of clear signage so that folks know what to do and where to go. It’s important to ensure that all visitors are cognizant of the rules to follow and thus can easily adapt to them. There’s nothing complicated. Much of it is really common sense.”

Horizon Structures owner Dave Zook was pleased to be able to help out with valuable work that Windrush Farm does, to help ease their change in needs horse housing wise during the pandemic and also for the future.

“Our company works across the nation with many deserving causes, rescues, therapeutic riding programs and charitable projects for veterans, as well as K9 units and others doing valuable public service. It was our pleasure to be able to do our bit to help out Windrush Farm as part of this effort. Please keep your eyes on our Instagram page for other programs and projects we have coming up ahead. There’s always something going on!” stated Zook.

It is not an uncommon occurrence for Horizon Structures to see repeat business from their customers, and the placement of the 2nd run-in shed on the other side of the driveway from the 1st, frames a nice view of two color matched and designed buildings as you traverse the Windrush Farm facility.

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“I was amazed at how the building was set in the exact spot we wanted it. The driver unloaded the building and moved it around remotely with a machine {a mule} into the precise spot. He explained our horses might take 3 or 4 days to start using the run-in shed as most horses are naturally hesitant at first, but our horses were using it from day one. Probably so glad to be out of the hot sun! We’ve had some seriously hot weather this summer,” said Nittmann.

When asked how she would rate her experience purchasing a building from Horizon Structures out of 10, 10 being the most complimentary, Nittman didn’t hesitate:

"Definitely a 10, and I would highly recommend Horizon to others – and already have! When the truck arrived it also had one of Horizon Structures new greenhouses on board, and our staff suggested to the driver he could leave us one of those too! It’s incredible the range of structures that the company produces. Horizon’s structures are great quality, well-built, and they are an excellent company to work with, outstanding customer service and great on time delivery."

While the horses stay out of the sun, the team at Windrush Farm is as busy as ever preparing to reopen, but there is still a lot to do. Donations are always welcome. Please donate at Windrushfarm.org and for more info on the varietal therapeutic programs and regular lessons on offer, please email info@Windrushfarm.org

Nikki Alvin Smith

Nikki Alvin-Smith is a seasoned freelance writer who loves to share her lifelong experience with everything horse, farm and travel. Her work has been printed in more than two hundred equestrian magazine titles worldwide and her published articles number in the thousands including travel and lifestyle press.

A Brit who has called New York home for more than 37 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to her writing.

Her experience as an international level Grand Prix dressage competitor, coach and worldwide clinician, with a youth spent showjumping and foxhunting, provides lots of educational truths and fun moments to share with the reader. Additionally she has been a horse breeder/importer of Hanoverian, Dutch and Iberian horses for 25+ years.

Together with her husband Paul, also a Grand Prix dressage rider, she lives in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York and operates an organic hay farm and dressage yard. She is the proud mother of three children, Tristan, James and Chelsea (twins), and the latter two have kept with the horse riding as adults.