Category Archives: Community/Charity

United States Para-Equestrian Association Remembers Organization President Hope Hand

Hope Hand at the Tryon CPEDI3* in Mill Spring, NC. Photo by Lindsay Y. McCall.

Newtown, Pennsylvania – June 29, 2022 – Hope Hand, USPEA President, passed peacefully surrounded by family at age 73 on June 12, 2022. Surviving is her husband, Stanley Hand, daughter Amy Cappozzoli and son in law Eric and their children, Parker and Lincoln, a brother, Charlie Kean and sister-in-law Pamela Kean, and her westie, Finley.

Sleep may be the only thing Hope Hand did not do well, and it would be no wonder since she gave 110% of her boundless energy and time to Para Equestrian Sport and Para Dressage. Constantly promoting, recruiting, educating, and encouraging everyone she met as she traveled at her own expense to all US International and National Championship competitions and to numerous Para Dressage symposiums, clinics, and Centers of Excellence. Hope not only knew every US Para Dressage athlete from emerging to elite, but recruited many of them, and was available 24/7 to all to advise, encourage, and educate them on their journey to be the best. Hope is well known in the equestrian world globally for her tireless work in advancing Para Equestrian sport and has served on numerous boards and committees, all in the pursuit of bringing competition excellence to the US in Para Dressage.

Two-time Paralympian Barbara Grassmyer and close friend of Hope remembered their time together. “Hope and I traveled many miles together. We were competitors first then became close friends. It was always an adventure when traveling with Hope. From flat tires in Germany to her being carried up two flights of stairs to the train by my Dad and the Mayor of the small town in Germany. She had a big smile and thrived on the adventures we had together. While we were in England, we decided to go to a safari park. While driving through the monkey area, a few came through the sunroof, making us laugh. Hope had a heart of gold and made sure everyone around her had a fantastic time. She became my mentor and then when my parents couldn’t make the international trips, she became my show mom. While I was horse shopping, I called her to tell her I found my dream horse. She didn’t like it when I informed her that Mibis was a chestnut mare. She came to love Mibis almost as much as I did. When Hope retired from competition, she took on yet another role as president of the USPEA. Without Hope the United States Para Dressage program would not be where it is today. In 2021, we had a watch party for the Tokyo Paralympics. We all stayed up all night cheering on the USA team. We both had tears of happiness when the team won the bronze and Roxie Trunnell won the gold medals for the United States. I enjoyed my time with the Hand family especially when I stayed with them for two summers before the Athens and Hong Kong Olympics. Their family was my family, and I watched her daughter Amy grow up, I watched Hope become a grandmother to two grandsons, and I met many of Hope’s dogs over the years. Hope was one amazing lady who never took no for an answer. She is greatly missed by her west coast family.”

Hope’s list of accomplishments and committee representations were always to help promote and grow the sport of Para-Dressage. Her achievements are as follows:

  • Established and served as President of the United States Para Equestrian Association 2010-2022
  • FEI Para Dressage Technical committee 2016-2020 & 2006-2010
  • USEF IDC member 2013-2022
  • USEF Para Dressage Sports Committee Vice Chair 2013-2022, Chair 2006-2013
  • Para Dressage Centers of Excellence panel 2017-2022
  • Path International Advisory Board 2018-2022
  • USEF Board member 11years 2002-2013
  • USDF Para Dressage Committee Chair 2006 up to restructuring ~2013
  • Instrumental in helping with the transition of Para Dressage into the USEF and FEI in 2006
  • Para Dressage Athlete representing the US at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics serving as Team Captain, 1999 World Dressage Championships Denmark earning a bronze, 1997 British Invitational earning a gold and bronze, and the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics
  • 1997 Bradshaw Challenge Cup at the Festival of Champions, competed with fellow team members Steffen Peters and Guenter Seidel
  • Spearheaded the first Para Dressage group fundraiser – webathon in 2010
  • Initiated clinics with high profile AB dressage clinicians stand alone and after CPEDI3* for PD riders, including Debbie McDonald 2011, Mette Rosencrantz 2012, and more
  • Initiated clinics/symposiums with FEI Para Dressage judges/trainers Hanneke Gerritsen 2011, Carlos Lopes
  • Worked to secure two spots for Para Dressage in Able-Bodied dressage clinics 2009-2011 with top clinicians Sue Blinks and Robert Dover
  • Has attended all US CPEDI3* to meet with new riders, parents, and clinicians for education information and recruitment.
  • Production of Para Dressage promo videos 2009 & 2011
  • Instrumental in the development of Para 101 for athlete education
  • Consistently works with show secretaries and regional dressage areas to include Para dressage classes at their licensed shows, and developed education sheet for how to include classes working with USDF
  • Recruitment of Para Dressage sponsors
  • Instrumental in working with show secretaries & USEF to hold CPEDI3* in the US
  • Initiated Train, the trainer program with FEI 5* judge & trainers Hanneke Gerritsen working with Carlisle continued developing symposiums for Train the trainer & developing HP athletes 2012-2014
  • Instrumental in working with USDF to establish Para Dressage year-end awards
  • Working with USEF to include Para Dressage in NAJYRC, and sponsor 2015 & 2016
  • Established & Developed the Para Dressage mentor program through USPEA
  • Worked with US Pony Club Association to mainstream Para Dressage riders

Tina Wentz who serves as interim President of the USPEA is also a mom of Jonathan Wentz who was a Para Dressage rider that rode on the U.S. Team 2010-2012. Wentz noted, “I had the incredible privilege of working alongside Hope since the time she first formed the USPEA, and I have yet to figure out how she was able to do the work of ten every single day, always with a twinkle in her eyes. I met Hope because of my son Jonathan. Hope and Jonathan, also a Paralympic equestrian, shared the same competitive spirit and independent mindset of never considering their disability but in developing their abilities. They saw themselves as parallel to able bodied athletes and fiercely promoted that to others. Para means parallel.”

Wentz continued, “The board of USPEA and all who knew and loved her will strive to continue her vision of Para truly being parallel, with ALL athletes focused and working together to improve their ability in equestrian sport and life. Hope was a remarkable and irreplaceable individual that I am so thankful to have known as a kindred spirit and friend. And I know she’d say to all of us don’t stop now, you must carry on!”

A memorial service is being planned later this year. Details will be published once confirmed. Follow United States Para Equestrian Association (USPEA) on Facebook to up to date on information.

USPEA accepts tax-deductible donations, and they may be sent to USPEA c/o Ellie Brimmer, USPEA Secretary, 12359 Westhall Pl, Wellington, FL 33414.

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.

Update on Kim Prince’s Progress

June 24, 2022 — Two weeks ago, accomplished Grand Prix rider and beloved trainer and friend Kimberly Prince experienced a serious fall while competing at the Upperville Colt Horse Show, suffering an injury to her spinal cord at C3, C4, and C5, as well as a broken nose and facial lacerations.  Since the accident, Kim has begun to show signs of improvement, and the community has rallied to help jumpstart her journey towards recovering from this catastrophic accident.

Numerous people helped Kim get into one of the very best spinal cord rehabilitation programs in the country, the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and she will be transferring from INVOVA hospital in Virginia. The equestrian community has generously come together to support Kim with donations, words of encouragement, and assistance with her clients and horses.  A very significant six figure sum was raised through the Kevin Babington Foundation. These funds have been wired to Kim and are helping to supplement Kim’s insurance and are enabling her to make the move to the Shepherd Center.

Kim underwent surgery to relieve pressure on her spinal cord and is showing promising signs of improvement with feeling and movement starting to return in her upper arms, legs, and feet. With assistance, she has been able to sit on the side of the bed and even briefly stand upright. Importantly, Kim’s mind, ability to speak, and breathing were not impacted, and she is getting stronger each day.

“The road ahead will not be easy, but I am committed to getting back to the sport, the community, and the horses I love as strong as I can possibly be.  To have the support and help from so many is motivating and humbling.  I am deeply grateful to my friends, peers, clients, and family for standing by me,” said Kimberly Prince.

Please consider donating to the Kevin Babington Foundation and share this message as the journey to recovery for Kim has just begun and the expenses for her critical care, rehabilitation, and ongoing health needs are significant, as is the research and care of other equestrians under the Babington Foundation umbrella.

© 2022 Kevin Babington Foundation

New FEI Solidarity Relief Fund initiatives for Ukraine launched in May 2022

Photo: Ukraine’s Diana Borovyk and Baby Royal at the FEI Dressage European Championships 2021 for Youth in Oliva (ESP) © Lukasz Kowalski.

A recent visit by a Ukrainian delegation at the FEI Sports Forum 2022 in Lausanne sees additional initiatives and projects approved for funding by the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Established in February 2022, the dedicated CHF 1 Million FEI Solidarity Relief Fund for Ukraine has been actively supporting a number of equestrian related schemes across Ukraine and neighbouring nations receiving Ukrainian horses and athletes. This includes, among others, the creation of a logistical hub in Granat (UKR), located between Lviv and the Polish border, to prepare horses for transfer into the European Union; funding and distribution to regional hubs of critical horse supplies such as feed and bedding; and the emergency evacuation of a Vaulting team.

In order to deliver the aid efficiently and have the desired impact in situ, the FEI has been working hand in hand with the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and the UEF Charity Foundation, with FEI President and Chair of the Solidarity Committee Ingmar De Vos (BEL) referring to their Ukrainian colleagues as their “eyes and ears on the ground.”

For the FEI and the Ukrainian delegation, headed up by Secretary General Mykhailo Parkhomchuk from the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and accompanied by members from both the UEF and the Charity Foundation, this recent in-person visit provided a platform to discuss the priorities, review ongoing support systems in place, but also establish new programmes and set long term objectives for Ukraine and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Following these discussions, among the programmes being launched in Ukraine throughout May, four new athlete scholarships have been allocated; bespoke veterinary supplies have been sourced and prepared for dispatch; as well as financing for the purchase of 80 temporary horse boxes in order to support the setup of additional horse hubs in Ukraine.

Based on the existing FEI Solidarity Athlete Scholarship scheme, two Ukrainian Jumping athletes – Oleksandr Prodan and Anastasia Bondarieva – and two Ukrainian Dressage athletes – Danylo Konovalov and Diana Borovyk – have been selected to receive the scholarship grant to support training and competition related preparation with the ultimate goal of representing Ukraine at FEI Championships in 2022 and 2023.

Aged between 17 and 24, they were already competing at international level before the onset of the war, but the current circumstances meant they had to put many of their aspirations on hold. For Diana Borovyk, having survived the blockade of Sumy and taking up residence in her local equestrian centre to be with her horses while the war raged around her, being able to continue training and competing is “a dream come true.” She has also received a personal invitation to participate in a Young Riders Class at the CHIO Aachen Festival 2022, where she has every intention of showing her sporting determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.

The dedicated emergency veterinary supplies, which are being packaged into specialised kits and dispatched to strategic locations around Ukraine, include over the counter as well as prescription medication so the veterinarians onsite have all the necessary supplies to care for the horses remaining in the country. The bespoke veterinary kits have been sourced through the FEI Veterinary Department and are entirely funded by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Ukraine Relief Fund, which is supplementing the FEI Solidarity Fund with 100 percent of all donations raised being distributed through the FEI to ensure effective and targeted use of the funds.

The USEF Ukraine Relief Fund has already reached over 100,000 USD and continues to work closely with US based philanthropic organisations to leverage their fundraising networks to support the horses and people of Ukraine.

In addition to the existing horse hub in Granat which was financed by the FEI to prepare all the necessary documentation for horses to cross the border and has been operational since March, the FEI is now working with the UEF Charity Foundation to supply 80 horseboxes to two new hubs which are being built to allow horses to remain safely in Ukraine. The new hubs are located near existing stables so the horses will have access to all the necessary infrastructures and can continue to train in good conditions.

These last two initiatives are especially relevant given the unknown when it comes to the duration of the conflict and the need to work together to keep horses and athletes safe in Ukraine. For FEI President Ingmar De Vos (BEL), there is a clear progression in the support structure and goals of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund. “At the onset of the war, the FEI reacted quickly to the situation and set up the Solidarity Fund with the initial outreach aimed at sourcing and funding for immediate and vital supplies as well as evacuation related procedures, unaware of how long the conflict would perdure and how devastating it would be.

“We have now reached a point where we can be more strategic because we have the systems in place, so the meetings in Lausanne with the Ukrainian delegation at the end of April were really fruitful, and we can already see several programmes and initiatives launched as a result.

“The initiatives are a mix of short to mid-term objectives aimed at keeping individuals and horses safe and well in Ukraine, but also long-term future proofing to ensure the sport is not entirely put on hold and can recover after the war. It has been awe-inspiring to see the global equestrian community come together to support Ukraine and we will continue to do everything in our power to maximise the reach of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to help the equestrian community and the horse lovers of Ukraine.”

About the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund:

The FEI set aside a CHF 1 Million Solidarity Relief Fund for the equestrian community in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russian military forces. The allocation was approved by the FEI Executive Board during a meeting convened on 28 February 2022, where members also unanimously condemned the invasion and agreed to remove all international equestrian events in Russia and Belarus from the 2022 FEI calendar. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has also joined forces with the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, establishing the USEF Ukraine Relief Fund to Support Ukraine horses and equestrians, with 100% of funds raised going to the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to be distributed by the FEI.

About the UEF Charity Foundation:

The Charity Foundation is registered in Belgium and its mission is to help the Ukrainian equestrian community during the crisis. The Foundation works closely with the FEI and national equestrian federations. For all the latest information and activities, visit https://helpukrainehorses.eu/.

Media contact:

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Eric Lamaze: The Retirement of a Legend

Photo: Rolex / Ashley Neuhof.

Eric Lamaze is one of the world’s most respected show jumpers and achieved so much throughout his stellar career. Following the announcement of his retirement, the Rolex Grand Slam team reached out to some of Eric’s biggest fans and dearest friends to highlight what makes him the legend he became.

Steve Guerdat

What is your favourite Rolex Grand Slam Major memory with Eric Lamaze?

There is more than one moment that stands in my memory; it is more about the history between Eric and the Rolex Grand Slam Major of Calgary. Over the years he has built a legacy over there and both Eric and Spruce Meadows have benefited from all the successes they have shared; it is unimaginable what he has achieved in that ring.

Which of Eric’s horses stands out the most and why?

Hickstead. He is one of the all-time greats and so similar to Eric – one pair I can’t stop watching again and again.

What is the most useful thing you have learnt from Eric?

Never doubt, always stay positive, and keep moving forward.

If you could use one word to describe Eric, what would it be?

Confident and positive.

Read more here.

© 2022 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

2022 Horse Stars Hall of Fame Inductees Announced Including the First Mule

Photo: Elmer the therapy mule.

The Horse Stars Hall of Fame honors the contributions of amazing horses by sharing the stories of their athletic and humanitarian feats. It was established by the EQUUS Foundation and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) in 2013 to celebrate the extraordinary talent of horses and their magical and powerful bond with people.

The USEF inducts the horses recognized annually as “Horses of Honor” for their stellar athletic performances. The EQUUS Foundation inducts horses who have had an inspirational impact on the public as companions, teachers, and healers.

The 2022 Horse Stars Hall of Fame inductees are Aupollo’s Midnight Marquee, Balou du Reventon, Big Shot, Elmer, Happy Thoughts, HS Daydream’s Heads Up, Suppenkasper, and TDO Blackburn Hop. For the first time, the inductees included Elmer, the mule, to share the story about how all equines – not just horses – are stars and have a great impact on people.

“On behalf of the EQUUS Foundation and the United States Equestrian Federation, we wish to recognize the contributions of Jessica Lash in authoring the profiles of the 2022 inductees and to the many authors and photographers who have contributed over the years,” said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President.

“The Horse Stars Hall of Fame is a wonderful way to demonstrate the staying power of horses — as athletes, companions, teachers and healers — and their unique abilities to move us through a spectrum of experiences from thrill and exhilaration to pure joy. By sharing the stories of these amazing horses, we hope to build a more informed and compassionate America that values the impact of horses in our lives.”

Visit the Horse Stars Hall of Fame here.

To learn more about the EQUUS Foundation and their mission, please visit www.equusfoundation.org.

Update on Situation in Ukraine and Support to Ukrainian Equestrian Community

A webinar was held 30 March for the European Equestrian National Federations and associated European Equestrian Federation (EEF) members to provide a comprehensive update on the situation in Ukraine.

Jointly hosted by the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF), UEF Charity Foundation, and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the meeting included a thorough overview of the current actions and priorities in Ukraine, as well as an interactive discussion to establish the most efficient processes required to support the equestrian community (including the horses) in Ukraine and those who have fled to neighbouring nations.

The meeting also highlighted the strong collaborative spirit between the National Federations and the willingness from the equestrian community to provide both financial and logistical support through donations of supplies and materials, offers to host individuals, and/or horses and employment opportunities.

Since the onset of the war, the FEI, EEF, and UEF have worked together and tirelessly to provide support and aid through the UEF Charity Foundation and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Current situation in Ukraine

The UEF Charity Foundation, which was set up at the start of the conflict and has the full support of the FEI and EEF, manages the logistics and coordination of humanitarian aid, the evacuation of horses, and the general information flow to/from the community and those externally wishing to help. Through the website www.helpukrainehorses.eu, offers of material aid (feed, shavings, etc.), monetary donations, and accommodation have been received from across Europe and overseas. To date, over 375 tonnes of material aid have been received at their central hub in Poland and over €75,000 has been donated directly to the Charity Foundation.

Working hand in hand and funded by the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, the Foundation has also managed the creation of a logistical hub in Granat, located between Lviv and the Polish border, able to accommodate up to 40 horses so they can be prepared for transfer into the European Union. Individuals should contact the UEF Charity Foundation for more information. It is expected this hub will be at full capacity in the coming days.

Whilst the achievements so far have been remarkable, the UEF Charity Foundation gave a stark warning that the requirement for aid is ongoing. Over the next month, an expected 2,000 horses will require support from the Foundation which would equate to triple the number of supplies currently held. As such, there is a need to continue working cooperatively across Europe in order to facilitate the supply of aid.

FEI Solidarity Director Jean-Phillippe Camboulives took this opportunity to urge all National Equestrian Federations “to designate an official representative to first coordinate the offers of support and supplies nationally, and then liaise with the FEI, EEF, and UEF to ensure logistical efficiency.”

Among other things, this would entail that offers for accommodation or employment be coordinated through National Federations, prior to reaching the UEF Charity Foundation and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Camboulives added that the “FEI Solidarity Relief Fund has been able to provide great support to individual members in the Ukrainian community through neighbouring and European member federations such as the Ukrainian Vaulting team which is currently training and living in Slovakia thanks to the efforts of the host National Federation and the determination of their Secretary General Zuzana Baciak. And there are many examples like this at the moment. We must continue to work together and to coordinate our efforts and use our resources effectively.”

EU Regulations on the movement of horses

FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström provided an update on the situation regarding the transfer of horses from Ukraine into neighbouring EU countries, as well as the essential biosecurity protocols and sanitary requirements, which must be respected to safeguard horse welfare and horse populations both inside and outside of Ukraine. Among the topics covered, he also informed member nations of recent amendments to the existing Health Certificate published this week by the European Commission and taking effect on 29 March through to 15 December 2022 which could facilitate the transit of horses. Given the recent publication, the documents are currently under review by the FEI and clear guidance will be shared to all relevant stakeholders in the coming days.

Looking ahead and planning the future 

Reflecting on the complete collapse of the Ukrainian equestrian industry, the EEF and the FEI gave their full support to help rebuild the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation and the community.

To conclude the meeting, EEF President Theo Ploegmakers said, “The situation in Ukraine is devastating, but the collaboration we have seen across Europe through our members and the FEI is incredibly encouraging. There is still a huge amount of work to be done to help both the equines and the wider equestrian community in Ukraine and I believe through our network in Europe we can continue to provide the necessary support.”

FEI Solidarity Relief Fund:

The FEI set aside a CHF 1 Million Solidarity Relief Fund for the equestrian community in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russian military forces. The allocation was approved by the FEI Executive Board during a meeting convened on 28 February 2022, where members also unanimously condemned the invasion and agreed to remove all international equestrian events in Russia and Belarus from the 2022 FEI calendar. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has also joined forces with the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, establishing the USEF Ukraine Relief Fund to Support Ukraine horses and equestrians, with 100% of funds raised going to the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to be distributed by the FEI.

EEF:

Founded in 2009, the European Equestrian Federation (EEF) is the representative body for the European based National equestrian Federations. Working closely with the Federation Internationale Equestre (FEI) and the National Federations, the EEF works to maximise the potential and development of equestrianism throughout the continent. The EEF is committed to promoting the sport equestrianism and its good practices, developing the sport across Europe, and providing leadership for a collective European voice in the sport.

UEF Charity Foundation:

The Charity Foundation is registered in Belgium and its mission is to help the Ukrainian equestrian community during the crisis. The Foundation works closely with the FEI and national equestrian federations. For all the latest information and activities, visit https://helpukrainehorses.eu/

Media contacts:

FEI
Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

EEF
Alice Ward
Communications Manager
alice.ward@euroequestrian.eu
+33 6 40 62 81 97

Budweiser Clydesdales Will Lead Military Bowl Parade Once Again in 2021

The Military Bowl Foundation announced that the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales will continue their tradition of headlining the gameday Military Bowl Parade from Downtown Annapolis to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, prior to the 2021 Military Bowl presented by Peraton, benefiting the USO, on Monday, December 27.

This year’s Military Bowl Parade steps off at City Dock at 10 a.m. ET and proceed through historic downtown along Main Street and West Street en route to the stadium. Admission to the parade is free.

The parade annually attracts thousands of spectators lining the streets of Annapolis to view a wide variety of groups participating in the parade. The parade also features several Recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor presented for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

A color guard will lead the procession, followed by the Budweiser Clydesdales, musical groups, civic organizations, military-themed groups, and youth clubs, including Anne Arundel Youth Football Association (AAYFA) championship teams. (The Bowl invites AAYFA championship teams to participate in the parade and receive complimentary game tickets each year.) Each team participating in the Military Bowl will be represented by its marching band and spirit squad.

“The Military Bowl Parade is an annual tradition bringing together residents who live nearby and football fans who travel to the National Capital Region to cheer on their teams,” Military Bowl President & Executive Director Steve Beck said. “It is a special moment when the Parade starts and groups begin making their way through historic downtown to the stadium. The Military Bowl is very appreciative of our partners at Katcef Brothers Inc., who arrange the participation of the Budweiser Clydesdales.”

This year’s Military Bowl presented by Peraton, benefiting the USO, will be held on Monday, December 27, kicking off at 2:30 p.m. ET and televised on ESPN. The game once again will match teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the American Athletic Conference. Proceeds from the Bowl benefit the USO and Patriot Point, the Military Bowl Foundation’s retreat for wounded, ill and injured service members, their families, and caregivers.

About the Author – EOA Staff

Eye On Annapolis is a community-based site focusing strictly on Anne Arundel County. These staff postings are general news postings made by our team of bloggers throughout the day and are not attributed to any one particular staff person.

www.eyeonannapolis.net

Expanding Our Mission: Responding to Communities in Crisis

Wellington, Fla. — Nov. 9, 2020 — In 25 years, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has helped over 500 equestrians through times of critical need. While many have faced personal medical crises, a growing number of horsemen are experiencing the devastation of catastrophic weather events. In 2019, EAF expanded its mission by creating a Disaster Relief Fund to assist equestrian communities in the aftermath of natural or other unforeseen disasters.

Community support for the fund was strong from the outset, due in large part to the Paddock Master Pruning. The brainchild of Pat Duncan, the event involved three beloved Winter Equestrian Festival paddock masters shaving their heads and beards to raise money and awareness for EAF’s Disaster Relief Fund. This moment of levity paved the way for serious work ahead.

Just weeks after the event, massive spring flooding devastated the Heartland, leaving many horse owners in the region with little except their animals. With community support and a portion of funds from the Pruning — and in partnership with the Fleet of Angels Emergency Horse Hay Program — EAF purchased a tractor trailer load of hay that was delivered to a community in dire need on the Iowa/Nebraska border.

Since the fund’s creation, relief has been delivered in response to wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, blizzards, and drought. “Due to the unpredictability of these events, we learn as we go,” said EAF board member Robert Ross. “It’s essential to find the boots-on-the-ground equestrian community leaders in disaster areas and rely on their expertise regarding what horsemen need and how best to get it to them.”

EAF’s Disaster Relief Fund was also instrumental in the foundation’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent industry shutdown in March 2020. Within a week of the shutdown, EAF implemented an emergency grant program for out-of-work industry professionals and service providers. The program delivered nearly $200,000 in grant money to equestrians in need.

Now, the Foundation is focused on next steps for its Disaster Relief Fund. “A recent estimate is that nearly one in three Americans experienced a weather disaster last summer. Our community needs to be both prepared for and ready to respond to these worst-case scenarios for horse owners,” said EAF board member Louise Riggio. “By continuing to fundraise and build productive partnerships throughout the community, we believe we can take a very active role in this essential work.”

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Top Influencers to Attend London International Horse Show

The London International Horse Show ‘Live Zone’ is set to return for the 2021 edition, from 16-20 December, featuring more stars than ever. The Live Zone presents an exciting opportunity for fans and spectators to meet and interact with their favourite equestrian influencers, riders, and celebrities and this year will host talks, Q&A sessions, and interviews.

Social media sensation ‘This Esme’ returns to the London International Horse Show for the third time and will be in attendance at the Live Zone on Sunday 19 and Monday 20 December. Esme is one of the world’s most popular equestrian influencers; her career took off whilst documenting her life with her ponies and donkeys. Her engaging personality and lifestyle have seen her YouTube channel ‘This Esme’ reach over 600,000 subscribers and over 160 million views, as well as gaining a spectacular 7.8 million likes on TikTok and 272,000 followers on Instagram.

Speaking in anticipation of her appearance at the Show, Esme said: “I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be back at the amazing London International Horse Show for the third year running. Christmas just wasn’t Christmas last year without it, so I can’t wait to experience the spectacle, the Show, and of course the shopping at the London International’s new home at the Excel. It’s so exciting to be at this wonderful new venue, and this year promises to be bigger and better than ever!”

International Dressage rider, content creator, and influencer Erin Williams makes her debut as part of the Live Zone line-up for 2021. The six-time Youth European Dressage rider and owner of the clothing brand ‘Black Heart Equestrian’ has amassed an impressive 441,000 Instagram and 3.8 million TikTok followers. She has recently been dubbed the ‘most followed female equestrian on social media worldwide.’ Williams will be at the Show on Thursday 16 December.

Fan favourite, the ever-popular Teddy the Shetland, returns to the London International Horse Show on Friday 17 December and Saturday 18 December for a ‘meet and greet’ and photo opportunities. The miniature Shetland, who has over 160,000 Instagram followers and 2.2 million likes on TikTok, has become a social media superstar and even spent the summer in residence at The Goring Hotel in London meeting his fans.

Also in attendance are eventing and lifestyle influencers Megan Elphick, Tina Wallace, Emily Dunstan, and Lucy Robinson, who will be appearing on the Live Zone on Friday 17 December. The quartet’s content covers everything from schooling to stable care, alongside plenty of light-hearted action and challenges.

Alongside the exclusive opportunity to meet some of the biggest equestrian influencers in the world, the Live Zone presents a unique chance to hear from and meet elite equestrian athletes. These will include international competitors from Show Jumping, Dressage, and Driving as well as specialist equestrian experts, and guest appearances from other stars of the Show. Past guests have included Ben Maher, Charlotte Dujardin, and Clare Blading. The complete 2021 timetable will be announced in due course.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “The London International Horse Show is hugely excited to announce the return of the ever-popular Live Zone. We recognise the importance and growth of social media influencers and digital bloggers, so we are delighted to be welcoming more influencers than ever before. We want to enable our visitors to have an unforgettable experience interacting with their favourite stars.”

More information about The London International Horse Show, including how to buy tickets to be part of this exclusive Olympic celebration, can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Jane DaCosta Selected as the 2021 WIHS Honor & Service Award Recipient

Jane competing at the Hampton Classic @ Rebekah Masiakos Photography.

This year, the Washington International Horse Show Honor & Service Award, sponsored by the EQUUS Foundation, is being presented to Jane DaCosta, the Executive Director and Founder of Metropolitan Equestrian Team (MET).

Jane founded MET to cultivate young, aspiring athletes in grades 3 through 12 by developing their talents through horseback riding. They also provide resources to help the kids curate their college experience by giving them access to educational resources that allow students to expand their way of thinking about academics.

Jane grew up participating in equestrian sports, learning not only horsemanship and athleticism, but also leadership skills, the value of teamwork, and responsibility from the sport. As a competitor, Jane was an undergraduate rider for Long Island University/C. W. Post Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Equestrian Team. Jane has competed and shown successfully in United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Horse Shows ranging from “C” to “AA” rated shows for over 30 years in Equitation, Hunters, and Jumpers.

Jane is a graduate of St. Leo University and an Electronic Warfare Technician Third Class Veteran of the United States Navy. Jane is also a Graduate student at New York University Stern School of Business enrolled in the Executive MBA Program.

Through her experiences, Jane was inspired to create the MET program. During practices, students learn horsemanship, sportsmanship, and agricultural skills, similar to Jane’s experiences in the sport. MET helps students with college preparation through various education programs. They also provide access to representatives from colleges and universities, and highlight scholarship opportunities. Through its academic programs over the years, MET students have received over $1,600,000 in college scholarship opportunities.

Jane and her team have created a supportive, encouraging environment at MET that instills a sense of belonging. Many MET Team members are kids who, prior to joining the MET Team, had never set foot on a farm. MET helps open their eyes to a new world, then teaches them how to contribute to and care for it.

At MET, Jane brings horseback riding to kids of all backgrounds – and helps educate the next generation of leaders. Jane has helped MET grow to a national organization, providing programs throughout the country in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Utah, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Jane will be recognized by WIHS and EQUUS Foundation during a virtual awards ceremony in October. As the recipient, the Metropolitan Equestrian Team will receive a $1,500 grant from the EQUUS Foundation.

The WIHS Honor and Service Award was created in 2013 following the induction of Klinger into the Horse Stars Hall of Fame in 2013. Klinger, a member of the Caisson platoon of the 3d United States Infantry (The Old Guard), was the inspiration for the award and its first recipient. The Honor & Service Award recognizes a horse, individual, or organization that best demonstrates the values of honor and service as embodied by Klinger.

To learn more about the EQUUS Foundation and their mission, please visit www.equusfoundation.org.

For more information about the Washington International Horse Show, please visit www.wihs.org.