Looking back at 2021 and looking forward to 2022!
As we get ready to move ahead into 2022, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the highlights of 2021. Each year has challenges and obstacles, but if 2020 taught us anything, it was to improvise, adapt and overcome! We are so thankful to the community, our supporters, our donors and participants for helping us thrive in 2021! Here are some highlights of the year and ways in which YOU helped make this a stellar year for us! Covid is still very real and we consistently reviewed guidelines and implemented recommendations that helped us protect both our volunteers and our guests.
We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge Blair Construction for the donation of our NEW ROOF which was completed on December 26 of 2020! Their generosity set us up for a wonderful start to our year.
The Big Purple Barn is a licensed stable through Prince Georges County and the Maryland Department of Agriculture, with annual inspections. We are further certified through the State as a Maryland Horse Discovery Center and we are pleased to the the FIRST stable in Prince Georges County to receive that designation! Currently, only one other stable in the county holds this designation. Our commitment continues to be providing quality care to our resident animals as well as educational and experiential opportunities to our community!
Tours- for the first half of 2021, school aged children were remote learning and our tours and activities gave parents a break from computers and the chance to get outside and learn about animals. Our tours continued to book weeks in advance and provided us with not only a way to continue to interact with our community and foster excitement about our animals through meaningful encounters! Our tours continued to be offered 3 days a week with many parents opting to use the tour time to both decompress outdoors as well as supplement educational activities.
Hands on instruction- Our pony play dates and introduction to ponies provided individual and limited group activities for families and friends. These activities booked up immediately and we maintained a wait list that often exceeded 50 requests! We hope to expand opportunities in 2022! Our horseback riding lessons also booked to capacity and we maintain a wait list of over 25 riders requests. Our one on one lessons, with covid safety protocol, were more popular than we have experienced in many years! The Maryland Department of Agriculture reported that riding stables statewide experienced a significant increase in new riders!
Camp and Group Activities- in 2021 we began offering sessions to day camps to add to their enrichment programs. We had several day camps schedule hands-on tours and activities for their campers! We also created an outline for scout groups to come learn about horses and are working to allow them to complete badge requirements with us in 2022. Finally, home school groups also found fantastic learning opportunities here and we have plans to launch a specific set of classes for homeschoolers based on our Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation lesson program. This program would eventually be available for standard schools as well.
Volunteers- Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization and provide for so much care! We started off 2021 with a strong core group of highly trained volunteers who kept us running like a well oiled machine. We hosted several orientations throughout the year and did incorporate and train some new volunteers, but due to many factors, including kids and adults going back to school and work, people moving and changing schedules, as we finish the year, we find ourselves reimagining our volunteer program for 2022 to attract, train and maintain new volunteers in the most effective way as we need to add new volunteers to our ranks.
It was a slow climb out of the winter of 2021, negotiating lots of Covid changes. While tours allowed for an individual approach to meeting our community, we were able to implement covid safety practices that allowed us to open the doors to larger groups as well! We were so excited to return to larger public events utilizing ticketing, limited capacity, sessions with breaks and spreading things out to encourage social distancing. Our community responded positively to our structured programs and we loved having everyone join us once again!
June Unicorn Celebration- while Covid caused us to cancel our 2021 Annual Unicorn Celebration for a second year in a row, we didn’t want to let our chance to celebrate slip away so we planned a limited capacity event! We sold 172 tickets and combined with limited walk-ins, had approximately 200 people join us for a magical afternoon!
July Ice Cream Social- for a 2nd year, we celebrated National Ice Cream Day with an ice cream social, complete with ice cream truck! Over 100 people joined us to mix and mingle with the animals and enjoy frozen delights with us. People brought chairs and blankets and genuinely enjoyed the time outside in support of the animals.
September Horse Discovery Day- our first ever Horse Discovery Day was designed to help us fulfill our mission as a Maryland Horse Discovery Center! We aimed to focus on the horses and ponies in residence and offer interactive, hands-on activities for the day. Over 100 people joined us to learn things like, how to brush a pony, how to put on protective boots, how to listen to a heartbeat and more!
October Trick Or Treat Tours- our second annual Halloween celebration was a huge success! Over 250 people visited to trick or treat through various animal areas, show off their costumes and have a great time with us. Several of our resident ponies joined in the fun and dressed up for photos and interactions with the guests as well! We added new decorations, inflatable characters and photo vignette areas to the event!
December Holiday Shopping Tours- our 3rd annual holiday event featured more lights, more holiday inflatables, more photo vignettes, more items available to purchase and a visit from Santa and the Grinch! We were generously sponsored by several local companies so we could offer FREE and $1 donation tickets to our event as a THANK YOU to everyone for supporting us all year. Who couldn’t use some holiday cheer?? We had 300 tickets snatched up as well as several walk-ins. People purchased locally sourced crafts and gifts to support small businesses as well as our animals and made generous donations! We had an amazing day with lots of good cheer and it was a much needed lift for us all!
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR HOLIDAY TOUR SPONSORS:
Bay Area Mechanical
Dawn Fritter and Volunteers of The Big Purple Barn
Ledo Pizza of Upper Marlboro
Level Up Spine Care
2021 brought several health care challenges. While many of them were small, and we could handle them here with veterinary consultation, some required more intensive care plans and expenses! On the winter solstice of 2020, we identified an at risk pony in desperate need of care in a North Carolina auction. With the help of our army of support, and in coordination with Central Virginia Horse Rescue, we were able to pull off a Christmas miracle and get Po to our veterinarians for diagnosis, stabilization and care. Po has brought with him an entire slew of health problems that we have tackled one at a time! He came to us with severely overgrown hooves, pneumonia, a damaged blind eye and a critical condition called hyperlipidemia. His prognosis was guarded for weeks after he was discharged to our care and we fought to keep him with us even when he seemed to give up. After months, he was stabilized and making improvements before a challenging abscess appeared after a new medication was introduced. We managed to tackle and treat the issue and he was back on the road to better health. Po continues to improve and while he was not healthy enough to have the damaged eye removed in 2021, we are hopeful that 2022 will bring that final component of care to allow him to go out with the general population of horses and ponies! Currently, for his health and safety, Po continues to go outside with his best friend Mia, in a private turn out to protect him and yet give him the companionship he needs.
You can read all about Po on his Facebook page! Click here: Po's Story
In June, Summer became gravely ill and was diagnosed with anaplasmosis, a tick borne disease related to Lymes, but without the long lasting effects. Because we caught the fever spike in the very early stages and were able to obtain veterinary intervention, she was able to receive prompt treatment and recover quickly. Her treatment included cold hosing and fever reducing medications, stall rest and monitoring, and 6 days of veterinarian administered intravenous antibiotics. Her care ran just over $1000.
In July, Zoe lacerated her face the day before our unicorn celebration. She required 13 sutures to her muzzle and antibiotic treatment. We caught the wound when it was literally fresh and the quick arrival of our veterinarian meant a great cosmetic outcome as well. Zoe’s care cost approximately $600.
Also in June, our massage therapist noticed 2 things. The first was that our mare, Jewel, had a rib out of place. This perplexed even our veterinarian who came to provide chiropractic care and she received follow up massage care. Jewel completely recovered with no ill effects and her care was approximately $400.
June also brought the discovery of a lump on Sophia’s leg. We suspected soft tissue injury at first and decided to monitor it and cold hose it. A few weeks later, we suspected it was indeed a sarcoid which is a benign skin tumor that can grow to extremely large sizes. Over the course of the next few months, it became evident that we would have to have it surgically removed due to its location and the impact on her comfort. She received surgery in November and spent 5 days in the hospital to have the wound stabilized. Upon coming home, we further took on the care of a large open wound (the only way to effectively remove all the tumor margins) and began turn out stages for her to help with her mental health. Currently the wound has shrunk to half of the original size and is healing beautifully! She has also graduated to routine turn out with her herd which makes her very happy and less anxious! Her surgical care was originally estimated around $1600, but ended up being more complicated than estimated and the final hospital bill was almost $1000 more, ending at $2536.
We have FINALLY paid off the near $4000 colic care bill for Suzie from 2020 and thanks to our supporters, have raised the funds to cover Sophia’s care bill. We still need your help to clear our total veterinary care bill which currently stands at close to $4500! Medical expenses for the animals is one of our MOST significant expenses. In 2022 we want to pay off our existing bill and build a cushion for future routine and emergency care!
We are now dealing with running a 20 year old facility which we have tried hard to keep up with, but in truth, animals are HARD on their environment! Between basic wear and tear, new traffic patterns created through event design and new animal areas, we are making a list of facility needs for the coming year. During the turbulent summer heat and storms, we suffered some physical challenges this year. Our newly constructed sheep loafing area suffered significant damage when a large limb twisted and fell. Luckily it was repairable and no sheep were harmed! The continued heavy rains, coupled with the winter snow and ice, cause runoff damage in our riding ring and around our paddocks and barn creating wash outs that still need to be addressed in 2022. With our new roof
keeping things dry inside, we discovered an improved roof with better water shedding capabilities would require new gutters which is a goal for 2022. We also need other major repairs and improvements including raising the interior level of the main barn, repairing the upper shed rows, constructing new pig housing, installing kick walls, improving the waterproofing of the main barn and installing replacement fencing. We would also like to work towards a covering for our round pen area to allow us to have a dedicated, covered outdoor classroom and training space for program improvement and expansion.
We are also at a capacity building stage where we need to identify and incorporate additional volunteers for a myriad of work in addition to our care team. We are planning on phasing in paid staff over the next 5 years to help run the programs more efficiently and reliably. This is a new venture for us as we currently operate on volunteer power but the community involvement is growing beyond our capacity and it is time to evolve in a new direction of growth! These things all inspire and terrify us at the same time, but we will continue to tackle our challenges head on!
COMMUNITY BUSINESS SUPPORT:
We want to take a moment to thank so many amazing community businesses for supporting us this past year! With their support, we were able to achieve so much more in 2021 and we look forward to building new community partnerships. Did you know that we reached over 800 new individuals and families through our tours and hands-on activities and the average event attendance was 200 individuals. We did 5 events in 2021! Our community partners supported us and got their names out to
close to 1500 people in our community PLUS our social media community. If you know of a business that wants to partner with us in 2022, please contact us!
Blair Construction- new roof sponsor
Sweet Piggy Bakery- raffle fundraiser
Amber Austin Crafts- vendor sponsor
Gingerbread House Zoo Crafts- vendor sponsor
Bay Area Mechanical- event sponsor
Dawn Fritter and Volunteers of The Big Purple Barn- event sponsor
Ledo Pizza of Upper Marlboro- event sponsor
Wine Key- event sponsor
Level Up Spine Care- event sponsor
Lawn Star of Bowie- grounds maintenance sponsor
As you can see, 2021 remained a busy year for us. We celebrated 30 years with our founding herd member, Mia, who also turned 33! We celebrated 8 years as a registered non profit as well as TWENTY years in our Bowie location! We continued to experience growth and support in our community and continue to work t
o be seen as a valuable community partner and resource. We were able to continue our mission to provide top quality care for our resident animals and help a particularly at risk pony this year. We may not be able to make a difference to each and every animal we see, but we can make a profound difference to the ones we are able to accept into our care with your help. As we unpack 2021 and begin laying out the ideas and goals for 2022, we want to thank you for your continued participation and support and we hope you will continue to be our community partners in 2022!
We would love your feedback! Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, questions, photos, experiences and other feedback! Plan to join us and become a partner in helping us grow. We will be seeking out volunteers beginning in January. Check our website for a list of volunteer needs. If you have had a wonderful experience here, please take a moment to rate us on Facebook or Google! If you didn’t, please let us know so we can work to better ourselves! We need more people who want to help us evolve and grow and work to implement new ideas and improve our programs. We are currently working on assessing new software for managing bookings and volunteer schedules as well as building the knowledge and competence of our board. We are striving to exceed licensing regulations and pursuing additional certifications to help us stand out. We have enjoyed TWENTY years in our location here in Bowie and 8 years of growing as non profit. We can’t wait to see what we can achieve with your help in the coming years!
As always, your financial support is so vital to our success and we appreciate your dedication to our animals and programs. As the end of the year approaches, please consider donating to one of our funds or becoming an animal sponsor in 2022. Every dollar makes a difference!
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!