Leading her horse into the new indoor arena at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center for the first time, equine professional Hannah Schofield was quite impressed.

“Wow, can I have one?” Schofield said of her reaction entering the Jane and Stephen Hale Equine Performance Evaluation Center in Leesburg. “It's beautiful. I mean, every detail is right where it needs to be. The footing is great. They have everything they need to do a full complete evaluation of your horse on every surface. It looks great.”

Schofield, in a sense, does get to have the new indoor arena, along with thousands of other equine professionals and enthusiasts across Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region. 

“I have lots of friends around the country who have to travel hours and hours to get this kind of care available to them,” said Schofield, owner of Milestone Sport Horses in Lovettsville, 15 miles from Leesburg in Northern Virginia horse country. “We’re very, very spoiled and lucky to have such a world-class facility at our doorstep.”

Schofield, originally from Great Britain, is an eventer who trains and rides horses in cross country, show jumping and dressage.

The new arena, dedicated in December, has started being used in recent weeks by equine medical center clinicians to evaluate clients’ horses. The facility is a 24-hour emergency equine center and teaching hospital of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, based on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. 

The new facility, built by Scott-Long Construction of Chantilly, Virginia, has 21,000 square feet of floor area and three riding surfaces to help clinicians better understand and diagnose how horses are affected by various injuries or lameness as they move.

The indoor arena includes a riding area for under-saddle diagnostics, two jogging strips, and two lunging areas. The riding area has Attwood Equestrians Pinnacle surface, a soft synthetic footing that absorbs moisture and prevents dust buildup. Schofield described it as like “riding on a cloud.”

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One jogging strip and one lunging area have an asphalt surface while the other jogging strip and lunging area have a more rubbery Padenpor seamless soft surface by Abacus. 

While the new equine performance center offers obvious benefit with its three surfaces and large area with protection from the elements, a veteran clinician at the center sees the comfort of enclosure as a key advantage of the new facility.

“Having an enclosed environment, for me, is most important for having the horse feel less distracted,” said Jennifer Barrett, the Theodora Ayer Randolph Professor of Equine Surgery at the center. “It's very normal for most horses that are performance horses to work inside an indoor arena. Bringing them into an enclosed area where you don't have to worry about them getting distracted by other horses makes a big difference in our ability to detect lameness and other problems.”

The new facility adds to the expertise, loving care for horses and personable service to clients provided by the equine medical center, Schofield said.

“The minute you get here, you get greeted by a friendly face, which is what you want, people will put you at ease right away,” Schofield said. “And in spite of the fact you're working with some of the smartest people you'll probably meet, I think they break it down in a way that's understandable and digestible to everybody, which is really great.”

The new facility is a dream come true, Barrett said.

“It's amazing. I’m thrilled,” Barrett said. “I've been dreaming about something like this for the 17 years that I've worked here. And now that it's here, I have to pinch myself every day I come to work because this is amazing. It was built with every part of what I dreamt of and I got to have input into the surfaces and into the design.”

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