Category Archives: Community/Charity

New Features on Showhorse TV This Summer

©ESI Photograhpy.

HITS and Showhorse TV are excited to announce expanded Live Stream and Video Services to be introduced at HITS Saugerties during the Great American Summer Series presented by Alliant Private Client. Every ring will be streamed live at Showhorse.tv, and videos will be archived and accessible for a full year.

“In an effort to minimize the number of people on the showgrounds this summer, HITS has arranged to live stream from every ring, every day,” said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS, Inc. “During these very unique times, this allows all of us to help deliver the safest showing experience possible. You and others will be able to access these videos at any time for the next 12 months.” Each week, exhibitors at HITS Saugerties will receive a code to access the live stream and archived videos. The code will be available in Show Office.

Remember, every ring is being live streamed every day. Just create your User Account at Showhorse.tv and enter the code provided by the Show Office and you can watch and re-watch every round from the show.  With Showhorse TV, you’ll never miss out on watching any of the featured classes at HITS Saugerties the Summer.

1) Log in to your account at Showhorse.tv OR create a new account.  Creating the account is FREE.  Just enter a Username and Password on the Showhorse.tv website.

2) Go to Showhorse.tv/discover.

3) Select any “Live Stream” or to re-watch a recorded class choose “Video” for the week you were in attendance.

4) When the Purchase Screen appears, enter the event Promo Code supplied by Show Office for that week.

5) Share the code with friends and family.  Anyone can use the code to access all Live Stream and Video Archives – they’ll just need to create a FREE Showhorse TV account.

Please Note: The Option to enter Promo Code to unlock “Live Streams” and “Recorded Rounds” is only available on the Showhorse TV website (Showhorse.tv/discover), not the Showhorse TV app. After having done so, they will be unlocked and available on the app as well.

More information at HITSShows.com.

Inside the Rolex Grand Slam, Legend Edition: Nick Skelton

What was the first Major you competed in? How did you do?

Well, I first won the Grand Prix in Geneva in 1978; before it was a Rolex class [ndlr: Skelton won 9 Majors in total].

How did it feel to win your first Major?

As anybody would, it was incredibly exciting. I was very pleased and incredibly happy to be winning them. I had some very good horses in those days. Apollo won two Grands Prix at CHIO Aachen, and then I won the Aachen Grand Prix in 1982 with a horse called Everest If Ever. Lastly, Big Star won the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen in 2013 when it was part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, so I became the Rolex live contender.

Is there a difference in feeling when you enter the arena of a Rolex Grand Prix at a Major, compared to other Shows?

CHIO Aachen was always a great place to ride; even back in the ’80s it was always packed with crowd; there was always a great atmosphere. Winning the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen is an incredible feat for any rider to win. It’s probably one of the hardest ones to win, along with Calgary.

Which was your favourite Major to compete in?

I think probably every rider would agree with me in saying that CHIO Aachen is the best Major to compete in; it is like the Wimbledon of Show Jumping or like the Masters in golf; it is the pinnacle of the sport. I think most riders would say this.

Do you think it takes a special and unique type of horse to win one of the Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

Of course, they are big courses and there’s a lot of pressure with the big crowds of spectators that they attract. Riders also put a lot of pressure on themselves, as they are the most important Grands Prix to win.

How has the sport of Show Jumping changed throughout your career?

It’s changed a huge amount; one of the main things I notice now is the time allowed. Nowadays you have to jump the courses a lot quicker than you used to. I watched the video back recently, I think from 1987 when I won a Grand Prix with Apollo: the time allowed was 102 seconds; nowadays you’re in the same field with the same amount of fences, but the time allowed now ranges from 82 and 84 seconds. So, you need to be roughly twenty seconds quicker than what you needed to be all those years ago. The fences come at you quicker nowadays. There are often more fences in a modern course, despite the rings being so small; they now fit around 13 jumps into even the smallest rings. That is added pressure on the horses as they have to jump quicker and more obstacles than they did back in those days.

Would you say that it’s now more important to have a bigger string of horses, rather than one top horse?

Absolutely, there’s a lot more shows now, with a big Grand Prix happening every week somewhere in Europe. So, you need a lot more horses and the high-quality ones are difficult to find, and that’s why they’re expensive.

How did the introduction of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping enhance the sport?

It’s a very good concept; it’s incredibly difficult to win. I suppose back in the day I would have done it; I think I won those Grands Prix, some of them all in the same year. Scott Brash is the only rider to have done it; it is difficult to win two of those in a season, let alone three or four, so it’s an amazing accomplishment. I think overall, it’s made the sport more competitive, with riders striving to get to the pinnacle of Show Jumping, which is the Rolex Grand Slam.

You competed for so many years, did you still get nervous ahead of big competitions towards the end?

I don’t think I got nervous; all riders get a little bit apprehensive before an important ride because you want to do well. If somebody said that they didn’t feel anything, I’d say they were lying. Riders feel emotions because they want to do well. It’s more adrenaline than nervousness I’d say. I can only speak for myself, but once you start the course, I never noticed anything going on in the ring or anything going on around me. I suppose that’s synonymous with most athletes. I imagine when playing at Wimbledon, tennis players concentrate on what they’re doing and so can’t hear the crowd; it was the same for me.

You had some tough moments in your career – what gave you the drive to keep going?

I always had some young horses that were coming through, so during my injuries, it made me look forward to producing and developing that young horse, which made me want to come back stronger. I had Arko and then Big star, so I always had a couple of good young horses coming along that I thought were going to be good enough, which gave me the drive to come back. But I knew that after Big Star, that I was never going to find any horse that was going to be as good as him again, and also I was getting on a bit in terms of my age, and considering what I’d won up to that point, I knew it was the right time to hang my boots up, especially considering my back was playing up a bit and Big Star wasn’t as sound as he once was. The time was right.

I think we know the answer to this, but which horse was your horse of a lifetime?

Big Star, no doubt. I’ve been very lucky; I’ve had some great horses. It’s very difficult to decide which of them was better, but he was the outstanding one. I’ve had some incredible ones over my time, horses like Dollar Girl, St James, Apollo, Tinka’s boy, Top Gun, Carlo. Some of the best horses in the world at that time, but Big Star was an incredibly special horse, and I’m incredibly grateful to have ridden him.

When you first started riding Big Star, did you know that he was something special?

I knew; he was different gravy. There was something about him from the first ride. I knew he was different, that he was special.

What is Big Star up to now? Do you still jump him at home?

He goes to stud breeding, then he comes home; we try to keep him as fit as we can. We do a bit of jumping and hacking. He is spoilt and enjoying his retirement.

What parts of competing do you miss the most and least?

Winning is what I miss the most! I miss travelling the least, although I am still doing a fair amount of it with our students and Laura. I do miss taking part. Sometimes I’m watching, thinking to myself, “This is a big Grand Prix; wouldn’t it be nice to be out there competing?” But I was and am satisfied with what I accomplished throughout my career. I’m not the kind of person that looks back and has any regrets.

With new generations starting to climb the ranks in professional Show Jumping, e.g. Peter Charles’ son Harry – what is your advice to them?

The art of the game is picking the right horses, the ones that can take you to the top. You do have to be able to ride them though, but getting the best ones is the most important thing.

Which rider inspired you the most?

There are lots that have ridden and are still riding. I would say currently you could look at Scott Brash, Steve Guerdat, and the Philippaerts boys, but there are so many good riders out there nowadays that are all inspiring.

How have you kept the horses in training during lockdown?

We’ve just been doing it at home; we’ve built courses at home for the students and once a week we’ll pick a course and practice; it’s been quite entertaining and I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve never spent this much time at home, so the lockdown hasn’t been too big of a problem for me.

© 2020 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Meet Dani the Wonder Horse, Wellington’s Spotted Sporthorse

Photo by ES Equine Photography.

Wellington, FL (June 25, 2020) – Seeing spots is a matter of course for Laura Swanstrom Reece, especially when she’s in the saddle. Her 7-year-old mare, Danash’s Northern Tempest (Danash K x Chief’s Bold Angel), is one of the few competitive warmblood cross hunter jumpers on Wellington’s horse show scene, and the Friesian Appaloosa’s brilliant dark patches and snowy white with black points coat make quite the impression against the sea of solid, conservative colors typically seen in the hunter ring. But despite standing out in the hunter crowd and pulling her fair share of ribbons, the speckled mare’s true charm is found in a willing, sweet personality that is as beautiful and engaging as her unique coat.

Dani, as she’s known around the barn, spent the 2019-2020 Holiday Series and WEF 2020 showing in the rusty stirrup hunter division with Reece, and the green hunters with trainer Ashley Glica of ATG Equestrian. Her eager to please attitude and intelligence has made her a quick study in most endeavors, from finding the perfect rhythm over a hunter course and dancing around the dressage arena, to trail and pony rides, and even swimming in the farm’s lake.

“She is an incredible animal and really smart,” said Reece. “She’s so willing and so trainable, and that is what makes riding her a pleasure. She’s a unique combination of her dam’s conformation and her sire’s size and movement, and while her coat color makes her particularly unique, she has the athletic edge to allow us to pursue realistic show goals, even on the highly competitive Wellington circuit.”

Dani’s unique coat color, inherited from her Appaloosa dam, may appear to be a white base coat with brown/black spots, but the dark patches are actually a genetic absence of white, revealing brown underneath. All Appaloosa patterns are a variation of white, with different allele combinations resulting in more or less white showing on the horse. Dani’s leopard coloring, which resembles its namesake big cat, displays mottled brown and white over her face, chest, and lower neck, with the iconic black patches becoming clear and distinguished over her withers, barrel, and haunches, before darkening to a mostly black tail and completely black stockings on her legs.

With such avant garde style and standout coat color, Dani’s alluring look has recently attracted the attention of some of the world’s top equestrian brands. From photo shoots to shows to scheduled appearances, Dani and Reece will have a bustling 2020, and are growing their exceptionally engaged Instagram following as more and more fans join the journey of Dani the Wonder Horse.

Follow Dani on Instagram (@danithewonderhorse) to keep up to date on all her shows and events, and check back on her website www.DaniTheWonderHorse.com as it nears completion in the next month.

Media contact:
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Pre-COVID-19 Community Effort Felt throughout Palm Beach County

Wellington, FL – June 23, 2020 – Every winter, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) hosts an event that has a year-long impact for Palm Beach County charities. The Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), an exciting show jumping competition that blends equestrian sports and philanthropy, has become a highlight of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and has distributed over $14.8 million to 256 local organizations in 11 years.

While the 2020 WEF season ended early due to COVID-19, the benefiting 49 non-profits from this year’s GCC are putting their collective $1.3 million in donations to use following their participation in the event held on February 1, 2020.

“Non-profit organizations have proven to be nimble and have an ‘optimized way’ of stretching the impact of a dollar,” comments Mark Bellissimo. “Seeing how they have responded and adapted through these unprecedented times is inspiring.”

Organizations benefiting from the GCC continue to serve and support the local community’s well-being. Their outreach and dedicated work span many different sectors within the Palm Beach County region, including food assistance, educational support, veteran aid, foster care, senior citizen care, and family support, to name just a few.

With grants awarded to a grand total of 49 local non-profit organizations, ranging from $1,000 to $150,000, a reported 137,937 lives were impacted in Palm Beach County during their first reporting quarter.

“The GCC was started in 2008, following the economic crisis,” said Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the event. “The initiative came forward as a way to increase funding to local charities at a time where donations were scarce. The impact of COVID-19 on non-profit organizations replicates the situation of 12 years ago; the community’s need for services/goods provided by these organizations has sky-rocketed while many have had to cancel their major fundraising initiatives and are doing their very best to mobilize resources and donations. We are extremely grateful that the event took place before the start of the pandemic and cannot thank our donors enough for their generous support.”

What exactly does $1.3 million at work look like?

Feed the Hungry Pantry of Palm Beach County was able to react quickly to laid-off and hungry neighbors at the onset of COVID-19. “Within the first few days of the pandemic, we went from feeding 3,000+ families per month to 10,000+ families a week,” commented Executive Director Dan Shorter.

The nonprofit also joined forces with the GCC in applying to be featured in its Emergency Giving Guide as well as participated in the #GivingTuesday movement, in partnership with Equestrian Sport Productions. “Thanks to the GCC, we raised an additional $40,000+ from the western community and acquired dedicated donors that are making sure that we can continue to feed people (as well as their pets)!”

For Wellington Cares, a non-profit organization committed to coordinating volunteers of all ages to assist in enabling persons over the age of 65 to remain in their home with the support of the Wellington community residents and local organizations, funding will not only enable them to replicate their successful model in neighboring cities, but it also enabled them to adequately equip their personal and volunteers with required protective items to ensure that they could continue serving the senior communities.

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County provided 414 low-income families with their Education Advocacy Project’s Education Toolkit, assisting them in navigating the often complex federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations governing the services and accommodations that public-school children are entitled to be provided with under current laws.

Other organizations such as the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County and the Equestrian Aid Foundation were able to quick establish Emergency Relief Funds through funding received during the GCC.

These are just a few examples of the 49 benefiting organizations. We invite you to access the full fund use report by visiting HERE.

To provide additional support and to highlight the crucial work of local non-profit organizations during COVID-19, the GCC published an Emergency Giving Guide on April 3, 2020 under the leadership of Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin. The guide featured 83 non-profits serving immediate needs locally. It was utilized and shared broadly throughout Palm Beach County, giving donors a practical and safe way to identify which efforts they wanted to support during these unprecedented times.

The application process for the 2021 GCC will run from October 15 through November 15, 2020. The GCC board and review committee are on an intentional journey to assess, broaden and understand how they can further commit to diversity, equity and inclusion as organizational values. It has been reviewed and approved that this will also become a requirement for local organizations who wish to apply to benefit from the GCC moving forward. Please note that at this time, the GCC is also actively reviewing other ways to battle social and racial inequality.

For additional information about the event, including donation and sponsorship information, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

Andy Kocher Sport Horse Auctions Launches the Eighty-Dollar Champion Contest

Photo: Damokles.

June 18, 2020 — Inspired by the legendary story of Harry DeLeyer and Snowman, which was made into Elizabeth Letts’ popular book, The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation, Andy Kocher is bringing show jumping’s greatest investment tale to life in modern day.

In the 1950s, DeLeyer purchased Snowman for just $80, when the horse was bound for slaughter. The pair would go on to become legends of the sport, eventually being inducted into the United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992. Understanding how expensive sport horses are in the industry, Kocher wants to give a lucky equestrian an opportunity to have a future star of his or her own for just $80.

Through a very unique contest, Pippa, a 2020 filly by Damokles out of Belaquador, by Equador, will be awarded to a participant of the Eighty-Dollar Champion Contest. Entry into the contest costs just $80. On July 13, 2020, an entry will be drawn to determine the winner of the contest.

“I grew up idolizing the story of Harry DeLeyer and Snowman,” Kocher said. “I’ve wanted to do something like this for quite some time. I hope this contest can give someone a great opportunity that they might not otherwise have.”

Pippa is by Damokles, who has recorded placings at the five-star level. In 2018, the stallion jumped the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ New York at the American Gold Cup within two months of debuting at the international level. In 2020, Damokles won the National Western Grand Prix in Colorado. He is by Ukato, one of the most talented and successful sons of the great Stakkato. His dam is the KWPN mare Orindy, a productive broodmare who has produced no less than three internationally competing offspring, all by Ukato. Second dam Dorinda (Tangelo XX) produced another 1.60m performer, Justin, by Emilion.

Pippa’s dam, Belaquador, was campaigned by Meagan Nusz, who herself grew up going to local shows at Harry DeLeyer’s son John DeLeyer’s farm. Belaquador is now a member of Kocher’s broodmare band at Windwood Equestrian in Pelham, AL. She is by Equador, a son of the legendary stallion Voltaire, out of Elansa, who has produced the 1.60m performers Melansa (Edwig) and Q’s Charm (Burggraaf) as well as the 1.50m performer Delansa (Equador) and Teun (Lux Z), who competed at 1.45m. Second dam Wulensa (Gag XX) produced the 1.50m-performing Landvoogd (Burggraaf). Belaquador’s sister Jelansa also produced the highly successful 1.60m performer Vesuvius, who with Nusz in the irons, was a venerable five-star performer, recording wins and placings at top events around the globe.

Pippa will be registered KWPN N.A. and is set to be weaned on June 18, 2020.

Kocher has partnered with William Upton’s Windwood Equestrian for the Eighty Dollar Champion Contest. Based out of Pelham, AL just 28 miles from the Birmingham airport, Windwood Equestrian has built up a state-of-the-art equestrian facility and is home to an accomplished sport horse breeding program, where Damokles stands at stud. The beautiful property has also become a popular event venue, regularly hosting weddings. In July 2020, Windwood Equestrian will present the young prospects, ages 5 and under, for the second Andy Kocher Sport Horse Auction, which will run at Auction.AndyKocher.com, July 22-25.

In order to submit a complete entry, participants must also complete a participant application. Kocher will review the applications and contact references, including a veterinary reference, to make sure that the winner is able to provide a suitable home for a horse. Participants may purchase multiple tickets to increase their chances.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion Contest will benefit the Snowman Rescue Fund, which supports Omega Horse Rescue & Rehabilitation Center. Omega gives other slaughter bound horses the same chance that Snowman had to become a part of a loving family, placing more 1,200 horses since its founding in 1997. Omega also rescues slaughter bound horses from the New Holland Auction, the same auction where Harry deLeyer rescued Snowman in 1956. Omega saves, rehabilitates, re-trains and prepares horses for adoption into new homes.

For more information or to enter the Eighty-Dollar Champion Contest, click here.

Letter from US Equestrian CEO Regarding Racism. Plus: Life as a Black Equestrian

The protests and political unrest ignited by the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis have dominated the news throughout the world and motivated hundreds of thousands – including many of our employees – to protest peacefully against racial injustice. This has been a difficult and emotional time, and we wanted to share with you the steps US Equestrian is taking to listen, learn, and do more.

Last Tuesday, US Equestrian participated in #BlackoutTuesday and issued the following statement:

We pause in solidarity and support of the black members of our community. We are committed to listening and learning from you. We hear you. We stand with you. We can and will do better. Black lives matter. #BlackoutTuesday

We are energized by the overwhelming amount of support from this community for Black equestrians and your desire for us to do more.

We believe it is important to be very clear: Black lives matter to US Equestrian. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind and are taking steps to further educate our staff and create a more inclusive and diverse community for all staff and participants.

  1. Educating ourselves is the first step. Going forward, every employee will be required to take Diversity and Inclusion training, as well as Unconscious Bias training, each year.
  2. Board approval and implementation of a US Equestrian Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement and Action Plan. Over the past several months, Ashley Swift, a dedicated member of our Communications Department, has been leading this work and her recommendations will be presented to the Board of Directors at the Mid-Year Meeting. There will be opportunities for members and staff of US Equestrian to engage with and contribute to this program.
  3. Increased communication to members on US Equestrian’s commitment to do its part to fight against racism. This includes providing members with educational resources – including training on Diversity and Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias – and ways to work to end racism. We know we cannot do this alone, but we can – and will – do our part.

We understand this is an emotional and difficult time for many. Remember, US Equestrian paid fan and competing members have access 24/7 to a mental health first aid hotline at 1-800-633-3353. Please do not hesitate to reach out and take advantage of these free services.

Thank you all for your efforts to spread the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible, and for advancing our goal of increasing diversity in equestrian sport through an educated and open equestrian community.

Respectfully,
Bill Moroney
Chief Executive Officer
US Equestrian

Life as a Black Equestrian, by Camille S.

Originally Posted by The Hunt: An Equestrian Life & Style Blog

“I will admit I was nervous to sit down and write this. We live in a time where it seems like you are not only damned if you do, but damned if you don’t. Many are afraid to speak up out of fear. Uncertain if what they say will be correct, whether politically or otherwise, and how it may be perceived by others. Nonetheless here I am, to give the perspective of a young working student/exercise rider who is also biracial, black and white.”

READ MORE

Amy Pitts Awarded IHSA Senior Academic Achievement Essay Honors

Amy Pitts at an IHSA show at Crosswinds Equestrian Center, Lagrangeville, New York. Photo courtesy of Amy Pitts.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – June 8, 2020 –The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) recognizes students through the Intercollegiate Equestrian Foundation (IEF) with scholarships and academic awards. The IHSA Senior Academic Award is granted to seniors who have earned a 3.5 grade-point average or higher. To win the Senior Academic Achievement Essay Award, they must first meet Senior Award requirements. Then, they must submit a 500-word essay about how their IHSA and academic experience have prepared them for a future career. Amy Pitts (New Haven, Vermont), a member of the Marist College team, exceeded the criteria and submitted the winning essay.

“Amy has been an invaluable member of our equestrian team since she joined in 2016,” said Clare Knapp-Englehart, IHSA board member and coach of the Marist College team. “For four years, she has worked tirelessly to serve the team in any capacity possible and was the only candidate we considered for treasurer. Amy is highly intelligent, incredibly disciplined, amazingly organized, and a complete team player.”

Pitts, a double major in applied mathematicians and data science with a minor in computer science, qualified for Regionals in the World Equestrian Center Limit Equitation on the Flat division.

“Our region adjusted the schedule to accommodate Amy so she could rush back to school to present the keynote address for the Honor Society induction that evening,” Knapp-Englehart said. “Sadly, Regionals were canceled due to COVID-19.”

In addition to serving on the Marist College Equestrian Team executive board as treasurer, Pitts was president of both Pi Mu Epsilon (a math honors society) and the Association for Women in Mathematics. She also served as the vice president of Marist Math Club and for two years ran the Marist math lab. Pitts also participated in research with Marist faculty during the academic year and over the summers.

Pitts has accepted a fellowship at Columbia University to study in their Ph.D. biostatistics program.

“Amy has been an unsung hero for a Marist Equestrian Team, and is a great representation of the IHSA,” Knapp-Englehart said. “I cannot think of a more fitting student-athlete for this award.”

Read Amy Pitts’ Essay

For more information, go to IHSAinc.com or contact media@IHSAinc.com.

America’s Horses Will Benefit from the COVID-19 Matching Campaign Underway

Horses across the country need us now more than ever and many are in dire need of a lifeline. Thanks to a generous challenge gift from an anonymous donor, every $1 you donate between now and June 30 becomes $2 — up to a maximum of $25,000 — to help feed and care for the horses of EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For horses to remain an important part of American life and have a viable future, we need to ensure that donor dollars are being spent on programs with the greatest impact – programs that not only increase adoptions of at-risk horses and provide a safe haven for aged horses, but also increase opportunities for all people to engage and partner with horses in new innovative ways.

Many more horses now are at risk of losing their homes – and their lives – due to this global crisis. The EQUUS Foundation helps America’s at-risk horses and we are asking for your help so that, together, we can offer a safety net for horses that now have no place to go.

With so many people facing hardships, our fear is that many more of our four-legged equine friends may be subjected to abuse and neglect and the number of horses heading to the slaughter pipeline will increase.

At the heart of the EQUUS Foundation’s mission is the EQUUS Foundation Guardians program. EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities undergo a rigorous vetting process annually to demonstrate that they are committed to the highest standards for horse care and are transparent and accountable by making their horse care practices and operations available to public scrutiny. Only EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities are eligible to receive financial support from the EQUUS Foundation.

Our rescues are reporting an increase in requests from owners who can no longer care for their horses — and our charities providing therapeutic services are finding it difficult to foresee when they will needing their full herds for a long time.

There’s no better way to give with confidence than to give to EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities — and there’s no better time to give than RIGHT NOW because every dollar you give will double between now and June 30th.

Will you lend a hand to America’s horses and help us reach our goal by June 30? Please make your gift here!

Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, E-Mail: mail@equusfoundation.org, Website: www.equusfoundation.org.

Breeches.com Delivers Memorial Day Campaign Food to Medical Workers

Wellington Regional Medical Center leadership unload food for their busy workers. Photo by EQ Media.

WELLINGTON, Fla. – May 29, 2020 – Timmy Sharma, owner of breeches.com, arrived at Wellington Regional Medical Center on the morning of May 28, bearing a truckload of groceries. He was met by Chief Executive Officer Pam Tahan, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Hays, and the key leadership of the hospital who helped unload the food destined Wellington Regional Medical Center’s Grab-n-Go Pantry. Established by members of the Wellington community, the Grab-n-Go Pantry alleviates the burden of grocery store shopping for busy hospital personnel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The pantry is a repository for donated goods, including food and household necessities. Many workers end their shifts after grocery stores with shortened hours are closed and the Grab-n-Go Pantry helps keep their families supplied.

Sharma and his wife and partner Laurie wanted to do something special for their Memorial Day Campaign. Typically, Memorial Day is reserved for honoring and remembering armed service members who risked and gave their lives to protect the freedom of U.S. citizens. This Memorial Day, the Sharmas and their breeches.com also decided to honor medical workers fighting the COVID-19 battle.

“We wanted to do something to help those working on the front lines,” Sharma said. “We are all part of the equestrian community in Wellington. So many of us have been at this hospital. We wanted to show the staff how much they are appreciated. They’re doing such an amazing job, working long hours and giving of themselves.”

During the breeches.com campaign, each purchaser received a 15% off coupon on their entire order. Breeches.com matched the discount and created a fund for an equal value donation. Around $3,000 was raised to purchase food from the Wellington Costco store and delivered to Wellington Regional Medical Center.

“Thank you so much for your generous donation,” Tahan said. “This is such a great help to our personnel and their families.”

Equestrians Helping Equestrians: Relief Efforts in the Wake of COVID-19

Once a week, the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) shares a school-horse appreciation post on social media for what they’ve dubbed “Feed Your Favorite Lesson Horse Friday.” There’s also “Tip Your Groom Tuesday” and “Support a Horse Show Super Hero Sunday,” which are all designed to encourage equestrians to give money to support lesson programs and horse show support staff. While spring would typically be a busy time of year for the equine industry, this year is different, and people in the horse world have come up with creative ways to support each other.

“The Joint Leadership Council (JLC) comprises members from the leadership at the American Hackney Horse Society, American Morgan Horse Association, American Road Horse & Pony Association, American Saddlebred Horse Association, and United Professional Horsemen’s Association,” says Jessica Cushing, Marketing and Communications Manager for the ASHA. “The inspiration behind the JLC COVID-19 social media campaign was to be a voice and consistent promotional message for the difficulties many of our barns, professionals, and equine industry contractors in our community would be facing without the ability to give lessons and attend shows.”

The JLC’s social media campaign has been running for nine weeks, and Cushing says every post continues to receive positive engagement from the community.

“Our professionals are thankful for the recognition that business is still not back to normal, and there are a great many still in need,” says Cushing. “The ability to help spread the word that people are in need has seen countless success stories of lesson horses being sponsored, grooms getting extra support, and a great ‘pay it forward’ lunch program that emerged amongst barns.”

Other segments of the equine industry have launched similar initiatives during the pandemic shutdown. To help keep school horses fed during their furlough, the United States Hunter Jumper Association launched a Feed Aid Initiative to help USHJA members obtain free or discounted feed for lesson horses. Applications are being accepted now through June 1.

Monetary donations to the USHJA’s Feed Aid Initiative are tax-deductible and will be matched by the USHJA Foundation up to $300,000.

The PonyApp and Connolly’s Red Mills have also teamed up to give away feed to lesson barns this spring. Nominations of barns and programs in need are accepted now at ponygroceries.theponyapp.com.

Rescue Relief

In times of hardship, horse owners may find it increasingly difficult financially to maintain an ideal level of care for their horses. Fortunately, the equestrian community has built safety nets to help horses and their owners when hard times hit.

Equine rescue operations are often pushed to their limits in an economic downturn due to owners who can no longer afford to keep their horses and a market with more horses than potential buyers. Most equine rescues operate on a local basis, taking in horses and facilitating adoptions within a certain geographic area. National programs help support those organizations.

The EQUUS Foundation offers financial support to equine organizations that are part of its Guardians program. These organizations are put through a rigorous vetting process every year to ensure high standards of horse care and transparent and accountable operations.

“For horses to remain an important part of American life and have a viable future, we need to ensure that donor dollars are being spent on programs with the greatest impact,” says Lynn Coakley, President of the EQUUS Foundation.

EQUUS Foundation Guardian Charities include those that provide shelter and rehabilitation for abused, neglected, and at-risk horses; retraining and rehoming for horses in transition; peaceful and humane retirement options for aged equines; and/or are organizations that provide equine-assisted therapies and activities in a way that is beneficial for horses and humans.

Coakley says that many of their Guardian charities have had to cancel fundraising events and close their doors to volunteers, which creates an immediate need for resources.

“Instead of waiting until the end of our fiscal year in August, the Board of Directors approved the immediate allocation of $100,000 to help ease the stress of EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities,” says Coakley. “Each eligible charity will receive a $500 grant for horse-care costs upon approval of its 2020 EQUUS Foundation Guardian Seal. As of today, we have awarded grants to over 67 charities and expect to reach at least 150 charities by June.”

“Rescues have had to cancel or postpone fundraising events for the foreseeable future, and many of them have experienced a severe decline in online donations since COVID-19 [closures] started in March,” says Cheryl Jacobson, Deputy Director of Equine Protection for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). “While many rescues have hay, feed, and funds for several months, some rescues are not as fortunate and need help to feed their equines while they find additional avenues for fundraising.”

HSUS awards grants to non-profit rescue organizations across the country. In order to qualify for an HSUS grant, organizations must be accredited or verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, be members of the Homes for Horses Coalition, or have been directly vetted by HSUS.

“HSUS contacted 440 Homes for Horses Coalition members in early March,” says Jacobson. “We collected information on whether they are open or closed to the public, how many equines they have on site and in foster homes, how long they have feed, hay, and meds for, and any other information they could provide us with. We noted which rescues mentioned that they were in dire need of emergency hay funds. As we were able to secure funding, we started providing grants to the rescues in dire need, and the amount was based on the number of equines in their care.”

Jacobson explains that grant applications are sent to rescues as more funding becomes available. As of this writing, HSUS’s Equine Protection Program and the Homes for Horses Coalition have awarded grant funds to 33 rescues. HSUS has provided additional grant money through its main COVID-19 grant budget.

US Equestrian has provided a USEF Disaster Relief Fund grant to support both the Equus Foundation Guardian Charities and HSUS’s Equine Protection Program to help horses in need due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Help for Horse People

  • Equine safety-net programs offer direct financial support to owners who need short-term assistance to keep their animals, thereby helping to keep horses from entering the rescue system. The Homes for Horses Coalition maintains a searchable list of safety net programs by state that assist owners with emergency funds, feed, veterinary care, or other essential expenses. The United Horse Coalition also provides a comprehensive listing of local and national equine relief programs on its website.
  • The Equestrian Aid Foundation is currently assisting equestrian professionals and service providers through its Disaster Relief Fund. Individuals who make their living through the horse industry and have lost their income as a direct result of the pandemic can apply for a one-time emergency grant payment of $500 to assist with basic living expenses.
  • In addition to its ongoing social media campaigns, the JLC is providing funds to horse trainers, riding instructors, and horse show staff in the trotting breed industry who have lost income due to COVID-19 through its Horsemen’s Relief Fund. At jlccares.com, equine industry professionals can find resources for financial assistance and creative solutions for generating income during the shutdown.
  • The Show Jumping Relief Fund was created to provide immediate financial assistance to horse show staff, including ring crew, grooms, braiders, and officials, who have lost income as a result of COVID-19 closures. Information on how to apply for assistance or donate to the fund is available at wixsite.com/home.

Get Involved

For equestrians who are able to give back during this time, there are several ways to help.

If you have room in your barn, consider adopting or fostering a horse in need. This will help free up space and resources at a local rescue. One place to start is MyRightHorse.org, a search engine established by The Right Horse initiative that helps connect available horses of all ages, breeds, and types with prospective adopters across the country. Fostering an adoptable horse will not only help ease the burden on rescue organizations, but will give that horse more one-on-one attention and human interaction to improve their adoptability.

In addition to accepting direct donations for the Disaster Relief Fund, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has also partnered with other organizations that are donating partial proceeds from goods and services to the Fund. Find the current partnerships at www.equestrianaidfoundation.org/community-initiatives-ways-to-help.

If you are able, contributing financially to a reputable organization can help bring some immediate financial relief.

“Thanks to a generous challenge gift from an anonymous donor, every $1 you donate now becomes $2 — up to a maximum of $25,000 — to help feed and care for horses at our Guardian charities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says EQUUS Foundation President Coakley. “Every gift goes directly to underwrite actual horse-care costs like feed, bedding, veterinary, dental, and farrier care.”

The matching donation challenge applies to donations made now through June 30. Visit www.equusfoundation.org/give to donate.

“In addition, while the many barns and equine organizations we support had to temporarily close their doors to volunteers due to social-distancing requirements, many are now beginning to reopen with precautions in place,” says Coakley. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of many equine organizations, and volunteering is a great way to learn about and be close to horses and nature while giving back, making friends, and staying in shape! Learn more about our Champions Volunteer Incentive Program sponsored by Ariat International at www.equusfoundation.org/champions.”

There are always opportunities to provide assistance and give back to the equestrian community, whether that’s by contributing to the barns and shows that would normally have your business at this time of year or by seeking out people in need in your extended network.

“From the first week [of the JLC’s social media campaigns], we had a very generous member of the show-horse community sponsor a whole program of 10+ horses for a month,” says Cushing. “Their barn does not have a lesson program, but they were inspired to help. The ‘Feed Your Favorite Lesson Horse’ campaign helped them find a barn in need and a way to support our community through these challenging times.

“Every day we were getting tagged in photos of barns whose clients, friends, and peers stepped up to send the whole barn lunch and help keep spirits up,” Cushing continues. “It has also been humbling to see barns and industry vendors find creative ways to give back to the JLC Horsemen’s Relief Fund through hosting fundraisers or donating part of their proceeds from sales to our grant program.”

by Leslie Potter/US Equestrian Communications Department