(Editor's Note: This letter was submitted by 14-year-old Grace Callahan of Alexandria.)
If the currently favored plan to “improve” Route 1 wins approval, it will destroy Woodlawn Stables. That breaks my heart.
I could not wait to be eight. Eight was going to be the best year, because that was the year when I could finally ride horses at Woodlawn. Every time we passed the stables, my face was glued to the window, staring the horses in the field, wishing it took longer to drive by. I was excited just to be close to something so magical right there on Route 1.
I’ve now been riding at Woodlawn for six years, getting to know the horses and the people. It has been everything I imagined it would be. The summer I was 13, I got my first job working on barn crew. It gave me my first taste of real responsibility, and it also gave me the amazing feeling of earning something with my own two hands. I’ve learned so much about what needs to be done to keep a barn running, and I feel like a significant part of it. This past summer I started working in the office as well, and that gives me a view of the business side of things. Joan and Cindy Mitchell, the owners, have taught me so much, and those lessons are going to help me my whole life. It makes me unbelievably sad to think that only a few more girls will get to experience what I have.
The Federal Highway Administration is . It would destroy barns, riding rings, pasture, and historical property. The Stables would be forced to shut down. This would be a huge loss to the riders, the horses, and I bet to all of you who pass by and enjoy that beautiful view.
There are about 50 horses at Woodlawn right now, and it would be necessary to re-home all of them. That would be extremely difficult, particularly because Woodlawn keeps a number of horses that are retired from lessons. They enjoy the best care and the happiest life possible until they pass away. As sad and stressful as it would be to try to re-home the younger horses, it would be even worse for these.
Little girls and boys learn valuable lessons when they begin riding at Woodlawn. You have to work as a team with your horse, because horses won’t always do what you say just because you say it. They are very big, bright, independent creatures, and you have to work with them as a team. You learn to love animals and nature even more than you already did. The people at Woodlawn are great too. You make friends that you never would have met otherwise, and you all have a common interest.
Woodlawn is a magical, natural place tucked inside a very commercial, urban area. There are turkeys, foxes, hawks, groundhogs, deer and more. This past spring we watched a family of wild turkeys grow up. They were so small, and now they walk around the paddocks, hopping the fences, and are as much a part of the Stables as the horses are. Woodlawn is brimming with life, all of which is threatened by the new plan.
Even if you don’t ride or work at Woodlawn, isn’t it nice to pass it and see something green? Isn’t it cool to see some animals? Winston Churchill said, “Something about the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” If a road is built, you’ll just see ... more cars, and more buildings.
On behalf of everyone at Woodlawn, we ask you to please help save it. There are several alternate plans that will widen Route 1 without hurting the Stables! You can get more information at the website www.savewoodlawnstables.org where you can read up on the issue, sign a petition, and find links to your representatives so you can write them.
This place is my second home, and I love it more than you can imagine. If it is destroyed, it will destroy a piece of my soul, and I know I’m not the only one.
Thank you for helping!