The Heavens for Horses, HERE IN ALDIE Story and photos by Callie Broaddus
aise your hand if you’ve felt the pang of guilt that comes along with not rescuing an an-
imal in need. (Don’t actually raise your hand; you’ll look ridiculous.) Photos of skinny horses—too many unwanted or neglected horses to count—flood our newsfeeds daily. We can’t save them all, so we try to block it out.
That’s where Cherry Tapley, Melissa Pankas, and Shane Richitt put their hands down. Tapley started riding five years ago, but she’s loved horses her whole life. As she dedicated more of her time to learning horsemanship and proper care, she learned of the less-glamorous side of the horse world, the side with too many ribs and not enough loving homes. Hawaiian-born Pankas and her husband had just purchased a 25-acre farm off James Monroe Highway in Aldie, Virginia, in January of 2015, in order to preserve the land from development and share it with the local horse community. When Tapley shared her dream of rescuing horses with Pankas, everything clicked. “Cherry magically appeared into our lives,” says Pankas. “And with her passion, drive and love for horses we just knew it was all meant to be, and Nalani Horse Recovery became a reality.” Ritchitt, who grew up around horses, joined the duo in early 2015, and became the third board member when Nalani Horse Recovery was established as a 501(c)(3) organization in May of 2016. The trio are now joined in their efforts by a generous network of volunteers and involved members of the community. They have rescued three horses from various walks of life, and they registered Heavens | Page 45
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