“Lauren and Patrick at Rolex”. Image courtesy of Lisa Curry Mair.
One of three-day eventing’s own top riders, Lauren Kieffer, and Vermont-based artist, Lisa Curry Mair of Canvasworks Designs, have teamed up to raise funds for Brooke USA. In May, Lauren sent Lisa one of her boots that was destined for the boot pile in the back of the tack-room closet. The charity, Brooke USA, supports the work of the Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, which has worked tirelessly for over 80 years to improve the lives of working horses, donkey, mules and thus, the many people that rely on them.
Lisa is blazing a new creative path by painting life back into “retired” saddles and boots, covering them with her own equestrian inspired folk-art designs. They really are a unique twist on a classic equestrian staple and are a wonderful way to commemorate a horse-of-a-lifetime, a notable competition win, or even the history of one’s own farm. Put on display in your trophy case, library, tack room or entryway, both the saddles and boots are conversation pieces that are also true works of art.
Want one of these fabulous creations for your very own? Now’s your chance! Interested bidders have until 5:00 pm on August 3rd to place the highest bid for “Patrick and Lauren at Rolex.” To bid, visit Canvasworks Designs’ blog and comment with your bidding price. That’s it. Simple.
All bidders will receive a daily email with the current highest bid. Winner will be announced on August 3rd. The winning bid will be a tax-deductible donation made directly to the Brooke USA. For more information, contact Canvasworks Designs directly.
Mill Spring, NC – May 25, 2016 – Earlier this year, Mark and Katherine Bellissimo attended a private cocktail reception for Brooke USA, hosted by Brooke USA Ambassador Margaret H. Duprey. Katherine was moved by Brooke USA’s mission to improve the welfare of working equines in the developing world. Not long after, Katherine, together with Nic Roldan, hosted and organized the event of the Wellington winter season: Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party. The Board of Directors of Brooke USA officially welcomes Katherine Bellissimo to the equine welfare charity.
Brooke USA is the American-based fundraising arm of the Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys, and mules in developing countries. For more than 80 years, the Brooke has been alleviating the suffering of equines who work in some of the poorest communities on earth. The Brooke’s scientifically proven, practical, and sustainable solutions to enormous equine welfare challenges actively improve the lives of equine animals and the people who depend on them across Africa, Asia, and Central America. Last year alone, the Brooke reached 1.8 million equines, benefiting 10 million people in the developing world.
“It is truly an honor to be included on the board of Brooke USA,” Katherine says. “I look forward to continuing to work to raise awareness of the organization, as well as the much needed funds.”
Katherine works in partnership with her husband, Mark Bellissimo, for the Wellington Equestrian Partners, the guiding entity for Palm Beach International Equestrian Center show grounds operations and development. She is a principal in the Tryon Equestrian Partners, which oversees the Tryon International Equestrian Center and Tryon Resort in Mill Spring, North Carolina, as well as the Colorado Equestrian Partners, which manages the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. For all three venues, Katherine oversees all sponsorship, marketing, communications, retail operations and vendors.
In addition, the Bellissimo family owns The Chronicle of the Horse, one of the country’s oldest equestrian publications. Katherine is also the publisher of The Chronicle of the Horse Untacked, the award-winning bimonthly equestrian lifestyle publication.
Katherine, her family, and the Wellington Equestrian Partners continue to grow the Great Charity Challenge (GCC) initiative. The GCC celebrated its sixth year as one of the state’s largest charitable giveaways in a single day, and has donated more than $9.2 million to more than 197 Palm Beach County charities since its inception in 2010.
Dr. David Jones, Chairman of Brooke USA, said, “We recently unveiled an ambitious five-year global strategy which will see the Brooke reaching a record five million equines within the next five years. Brooke USA will fund many of the programs within that strategy, so it is imperative that we introduce more Americans to our life-saving mission. We’re honored to welcome Katherine to our board and believe that her experience, expertise, and compassion will be instrumental in helping us reach our target.”
The Brooke is headquartered in London, England and oversees a staff of approximately 1,000 worldwide. Brooke USA is headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, and exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke through fundraising.
Brooke USA is a 501(c)(3) charity located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, which exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare charity. For more than 80 years, the Brooke has been alleviating the suffering of horses, donkeys, and mules who work in some of the poorest communities on earth. The Brooke’s scientifically proven, practical, and sustainable solutions to enormous welfare challenges improve the lives of equine animals and the people who depend on them across Africa, Asia, and Central America. Last year alone, the Brooke reached 1.8 million equines, benefiting 10 million people in the developing world. To learn more, visit www.BrookeUSA.org.
Wellington, FL – April 3, 2016 – The most highly anticipated event of the season did not disappoint on Thursday, March 31, as over 500 guests gathered at The Wanderers Club in Wellington, Florida. It was the perfect setting for sunset polo, dancing under the stars and supporting Brooke USA. The inaugural Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party, hosted by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo, to benefit Brooke USA, set a new precedent in Wellington, earmarking the end of the 2016 equestrian season and ushering in a new era with more than $120,000 raised for working equines globally.
“We are so excited and overwhelmed by the generosity and support that was shown during this inaugural event,” Executive Director of Brooke USA, Emily Dulin, said. “We want to personally thank Mark and Katherine Bellissimo for hosting such an outstanding and successful event, and we also thank our Brooke USA ambassador, Nic Roldan, for conceptualizing this event and putting together an amazing team of hardworking volunteers.”
A thrilling polo game kicked off the inaugural event after a cocktail-hour performance by Ki-Juan Minors. Roldan, rated at 8 goals, led the Brooke USA Grey team to a 6-5 victory over Brooke USA Orange, captained by 6-goaler Kris Kampsen. Brandon Phillips (5), Timmy Dutta (0) and Ricky Mershad (0) rounded out the orange team. Justin Daniels (1), Grant Ganzi (1) and Henry Porter (1) completed the grey team.
Roldan is an official ambassador for Brooke USA, the American fundraising arm of the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, the Brooke. Brooke USA is dedicated to improving the lives of equines around the world, providing veterinary care, education, and resources to care for working horses, donkeys, and mules. Brooke USA supports the efforts of the Brooke and has worked in some of the most impoverished areas around the world for the last 80 years, helping more than 1.8 million equines and more than 10 million people who rely on these animals last year alone.
Before the game began a moment of silence was observed in memory of recently deceased polo player Bob Daniels, whose son played on the winning team. Roldan has longtime family ties to Bob Daniels. His father, Raul Roldan, played and worked for Daniels for 30 years. Nic Roldan also played many years with Daniels, reaching the 1999 U.S. Open final together as Pony Express.
The Brooke USA match was anyone’s game from start to finish, with the score frequently tied or fluctuating back and forth with a tight spread. Toby Wayman of Chukker TV announced the game, giving a play by play for the spectators.
Both teams showed amazing teamwork throughout. Daniels made the first goal of the day on an open back shot and followed up in the next chukker with a three-quarter neck shot that sailed straight through the goal posts. In the second chukker, Mershad brought the orange team to a three-point lead, with all three of his teammates assisting on the goal. Sixteen-year-old Porter made two back-to-back goals in the third chukker, tying the game at 4. In the fourth he scored again with a full-field run. Mershad made the final goal.
“I always enjoy playing in charity games, but this one was amazing,” said Kampsen. “Nic did an awesome job organizing this event for Brooke USA by incorporating some of these really talented young players we have. It was so much fun!”
For Roldan, it was clearly a labor of love. “Our goal was to create as much awareness as possible in the community about Brooke USA’s efforts. It’s a good cause, and it’s close to our hearts because we love equines,” he said. Roldan extended his thanks to the event hosts, Katherine and Mark Bellissimo, whom he said “went above and beyond” by providing the magnificent venue at The Wanderers Club and donating food and other amenities.
PoloGear USA donated the team jerseys, as well as custom saddlebags worn by miniature horses and donkeys that walked along the sidelines collecting cash donations for Brooke USA. Roldan, who came up with the idea to include the furry ambassadors, borrowed the mini-equines from his friends.
Marquez-Dulin and board member Jim Wolf presented the trophy to the winning team. The Best Playing Pony award, presented by Gil Johnston, went to Dallas, played by Phillips in the fourth chukker. Porter, the high-scorer in the game, was named Most Valuable Player.
Teeming with spectators, the sidelines were abuzz about the next Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party, which is slated to return to Wellington in 2017. After the polo exhibition, guests moved pool-side where they enjoyed a night of dancing and drinks in their white attire. Rocco Mangel of Rocco’s Tacos emceed the event, and DJ Adam Lipson made sure everyone stayed on their feet and had a good time.
The inaugural event exceeded expectations, and during the live auction Brooke USA was able to raise enough money to build two permanent water troughs during the “Bid for a Cause.” Because of the generosity of the Bellissimos, Roldan, sponsors, guests and the hardworking committee, working equines will have improved lives and continue to become healthier, stronger and happier as they continue their crucial jobs.
“We are proud to be a part of such a special event with Nic to benefit Brooke USA and pleased that the first year was such a success,” said Katherine Bellissimo. “We look forward to making this an event that our community supports and looks forward to every year.”
Through your support, this Senegalese youth will learn how to properly care for her young donkey thanks to local Brooke veterinarians.
Reining In Poverty Horses, donkeys and mules are the engines that power the developing world.
Brooke USA is the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, dedicated to alleviating the suffering of horses, donkeys and mules who work in the poorest parts of the world and improving the livelihoods of the people who depend on them. Founded 80 years ago, the Brooke currently operates in 11 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
How We Help
We deliver practical programs and provide support, advice, funding and infrastructure to our global network of employees, partners and supporters to make that vision a reality — all funded by our generous donors.
The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits featuring 7 FEI Dressage events, including a 5* and the only FEI Nations’ Cup Series CDIO in the Western Hemisphere. The AGDF offers more than $650,000 in prize money for the seven international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world. The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center facility includes the Van Kampen covered arena (made possible by Kimberly and Frederic Boyer and family) and four outdoor arenas with world-class footing, 200 permanent stalls, and a VIP seating area.
Olympic pair Laura Kraut and Cedric. Photo By: Erin Cowgill.
Lexington, KY – July 7, 2015 – Renowned Olympian and show jumper Laura Kraut has become an official advocate for Brooke USA, the American arm of the world’s largest international equine welfare organization, the Brooke.
A prominent horsewoman and competitor on the global stage, Kraut is no stranger to advocating for a better world. While she has used horses to ride and compete on behalf of other causes in the past, this time it is horses themselves that she will be fighting to help.
As an official Brooke USA Advocate, Kraut hopes to bring attention to the plight of working equines and the people who depend on them in the world’s poorest countries.
For more than 80 years the Brooke has improved the living and working conditions of horses, donkeys and mules in developing nations. Through direct veterinary intervention and scientific research, and by working with owners, communities, and governments, last year alone the Brooke reached nearly 1.5 million equines. As a result, six million people directly benefited in countries where many of those people earn less than a dollar a day.
The Brooke alleviates unspeakable suffering in equines who would otherwise live their entire lives in misery due to exhaustion, dehydration, malnourishment, crippling injuries, abuse and disease, before dying in obscurity.
“How could you not want to help?” Kraut said. “Looking at the Brooke’s photographs and hearing the stories will initially bring you to tears, but it quickly turns to hope and excitement when you learn about their practical, proven, sustainable solutions to these serious equine welfare issues.” She continued, “While we may jump for sport, these owners are counting on the income generated by their animals to keep their children from going hungry each night.”
The Brooke works at the community and national levels in 11 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Brooke USA, headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, exists to support the overseas programs of the Brooke. It is growing rapidly due to the generous support and advocacy of respected horsemen and women like Kraut.
One of the most successful riders in the game today, Kraut’s competition resume is significant. She was a gold-medal winner for the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games, a member of the silver medal World Equestrian Games team at Aachen in 2006, has had successful performances at World Cup Finals and several Nation’s Cup teams, not to mention more than 100 Grand Prix wins.
Cindy Rullman, Fundraising Development Manager for Brooke USA, said, “When a competitor of Laura Kraut’s stature has the vision to recognize a global need and is willing to jump in to help, we’re all better for it. The possibilities are very exciting because if the elite show jumping community embraces the work of the Brooke, the potential exists for widespread suffering to be alleviated on a massive scale. It’s that simple and that important.”
Kraut joins the ranks of Cherry Knoll Farm’s Margaret Duprey, high performance dressage riders Allison Brock and Shannon Dueck, as well as Olympic medalist Debbie McDonald as a public supporter of the Brooke USA. Other Global Ambassadors include British double Olympic Gold Medalist Charlotte Dujardin and respected “horse whisperer” Monty Roberts, among others.
While her performance in the saddle is something to be respected in its own right, her advocacy of Brooke USA is certainly another title to add to her contributions to the equestrian community.
Brooke USA is a 501(c)(3) charity and exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke. For more information about Brooke USA, please contact Cindy Rullman: 859-296-0037, Cindy.Rullman@BrookeUSA.org, or visit www.brookeusa.org.
Wellington, FL – June 13, 2015 – Allison Brock has a passion for horses, whether they’re competing in the world’s finest show rings or struggling to survive in third world countries. For the past several years Brock has used her platform as an international Grand Prix-level competitor to bring attention to the latter as a supporter of the Brooke – the world’s largest international equine welfare charity.
For more than 80 years, the Brooke has alleviated the suffering of working horses, donkeys and mules in the world’s poorest communities by providing free veterinary care and educating owners. They work at the community and national levels in 11 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Last year alone, the Brooke reached 1.5 million working equines, benefiting several million people who rely on the animals to earn a living.
Brock was introduced to the Brooke by longtime horse owners Fritz and Claudine Kundrun, who are also avid supporters of the charity. She recently made her support official, becoming an ambassador for the organization’s American arm, Brooke USA. Brock joined other Brooke ambassadors including Charlotte Dujardin, Debbie McDonald, Margaret Duprey, Monty Roberts and Major Richard Waygood.
Cindy Rullman, Fundraising Development Director for Brooke USA, observed, “Ali Brock has been a loyal champion of our mission for a long time. She has quietly and faithfully spread the word about our truly unique charity and our proven solutions to many of the welfare problems facing working equines. Now we are delighted to give her a well-deserved spotlight by introducing her as our newest Brooke USA Ambassador.”
Brock currently competes at the international Grand Prix level with Rosevelt, a 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by the Kundruns. She recently won team gold with USA Team 1 at the Stillpoint Farm Nations Cup CDIO3* in Wellington, Florida.
The high performance rider stressed that increasing awareness of the UK-based organization in the United States is an important step toward broadening the charity’s support base globally.
Brock said she hangs a big Brooke USA banner on her tack stall at shows and always keeps pamphlets on hand for curious passersby.
“I really believe in the organization,” Brock explained. “I am very happy to spread the word about it in any way that I can.”
Although the charity’s foothold in the United States is growing, Brock said she wants people who have never heard of the Brooke to know that the organization does an excellent job of offering practical, sustainable, proven methods to improve equine welfare.
“When people who are living in poverty learn how to take better care of their animals, not only do the animals benefit, but so do the entire families who depend on them,” Brock said. “The Brooke is one of the few organizations that really helps elevate the quality of life for both the animals and the people.”
Brock plans to continue championing for awareness, hoping for more fundraisers and publicity opportunities in the future.
“I know Americans would love to be a part of the Brooke,” Brock concluded. “They just need to know the organization is out there actively making a difference.”
Brooke USA is a 501(c)(3) charity and exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke. For more information about Brooke USA, please contact Cindy Rullman: 859-296-0037, Cindy.Rullman@BrookeUSA.org, or visit www.brookeusa.org.
Lexington, KY – May 14, 2015 – Olympic medalist Debbie McDonald is brimming with natural talent and a passion for horses. As a child she made her debut in the show jumping ring, but moved to the sport of dressage, where she rose to the top as a World Cup Finals Champion and Olympic medalist through her partnership with the brilliant mare, Brentina.
Now the international rider, known as the “First Lady of American Dressage,” will use that same talent and passion on behalf of working equines as Brooke USA’s newest Ambassador.
Brooke USA supports the overseas work of the Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare organization. Their mission is to improve the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules in the world’s poorest communities.
Through direct veterinary intervention and scientific research, and by working with owners, communities and governments, the Brooke has been providing long-term, proven, sustainable solutions to many of the welfare problems facing working animals for 81 years. Last year alone the Brooke reached nearly 1.5 million equines, benefitting 6 million people in countries where many people earn less than a dollar a day.
Captivated by the ability to bring permanent change to the lives of working animals and their owners in developing countries, McDonald didn’t hesitate to come alongside Brooke USA.
“When I saw Brooke USA’s photos, read the material and learned about their mission, it didn’t take me five seconds to realize that when you don’t know what’s going on you never realize how sad something can be,” McDonald expressed. “I certainly would do anything in my power to help this amazing organization.”
When she was only 14 years old, McDonald saw the mistreatment of horses firsthand. It was personal: it was her own pony, Flanigan. It seemed like any other day going to the barn, but when she walked through the threshold she was met by a man she did not know in his stall beating him. When she went running for help, she met young trainer and future husband, Bob McDonald. With his help, she moved her pony to his hunter/jumper facility, promising to never compromise her pony’s mental or physical health.
Her passion for the treatment of horses is still apparent in her teaching and her demeanor today. When she saw the comparison between the before and after photos of the Brooke’s programs in 11 countries, tears came to her eyes, and she knew she wanted to make a difference.
“I’m hoping that I can draw more awareness about Brooke USA and what they are doing for the welfare of these animals,” McDonald explained. “These days I travel a lot and continue to coach and teach clinics. I think that if it is done the right way, I can open people’s eyes in the sport and show them the everyday trials of these working animals – donkeys, mules and horses.”
Cindy Rullman, Fundraising Development Director for Brooke USA, stated, “It is certainly a privilege for us to welcome Debbie as one of our new Ambassadors. When the sport horse world becomes aware that 100 million equines are supporting 600 million of the world’s poorest people, and that the Brooke already has proven solutions to the enormous welfare problems they’re facing, we think they will jump in to help. Debbie can bring that awareness.”
McDonald joins an impressive lineup of Brooke USA Ambassadors that includes the Brooke’s Global Ambassadors: double Olympic Gold Medalist Charlotte Dujardin, internationally renowned “horse whisperer” Monty Roberts, and top sport horse owner Margaret Duprey, among others.
McDonald concluded, “It just brings tears to your eyes when you see the plight of these animals – heavy loads, injuries and lack of water or food – some of them are just a rack of bones. We can make a difference. Sometimes it’s something as simple as teaching owners about hoof care, vaccinations and proper feeding. You learn that this is happening and it is astonishing. My God, I didn’t even know that existed still.”
Brooke USA, headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, exists to support the overseas work of the Brooke in 11 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central America.
Wellington, FL – April 8, 2015 – Grand Prix dressage riders Allison Brock and Shannon Dueck are passionate about Brooke USA, the world’s largest international equine welfare charity.
Brock, of the United States, was introduced to the charity and all that they do for working horses and donkeys by Fritz and Claudine Kundrun. She knew that it was important to bring awareness to it.
“I think Brooke USA is one of the best charities around for working horses and donkeys,” Brock said. “They actually educate people on how to take care of them, and they work towards more sustainable, long term quality care of the animal. To me it’s the best case scenario because when you help the animals the owners benefit, too.”
Brock competes at the international Grand Prix level with Rosevelt, a 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by the Kundruns. She recently won team gold with USA Team 1 at the Stillpoint Farm Nations Cup CDIO3* in Wellington, Florida.
Brock is an athlete who is at the top of the high performance dressage world and her success only continues to grow. At shows, she shares information about Brooke USA to encourage others to become involved.
“I typically will have banners out and bring pamphlets,” Brock said. “I talk to people who ask about it, direct them to the website and try to raise awareness. We live in this world where our horses are taken care of better than people, and you need to balance it out a bit.”
As the Brooke’s presence continues to grow in the United States, Brock hopes that more people who learn about the charity are motivated to help. She believes that at the end of the day, horse people are passionate about helping animals, and involvement will increase as awareness of the charity spreads.
“I think awareness is going to grow and we can keep raising funds at horse shows, among other things, in the U.S.,” Brock said. “I think once people know what the charity is about, they’ll be all for it. It’s such a good cause, and the money is spent so well. People just need to know about it; horse people want to take care of horses and donkeys.”
Dueck, who is also successful in the world of high performance dressage, likewise competed at the Stillpoint Farm Nations Cup CDIO3* on Canada’s Team 2, taking home the team bronze medal. Dueck said she is a “sucker for animal charities,” and she has been supporting the Brooke for around 15 years.
“They’re really helping our horses and our working equines,” Dueck said. “It also makes a difference to so many impoverished people, so it’s a win-win situation for both the animals and the people who rely on them.”
The Brooke was founded in Great Britain. Dueck, like Brock, believes the key to increasing the numbers of U.S. supporters is building awareness of the charity in the U.S., since once people understand the positive impact of the work it does, they want to be involved.
“It’s such a wonderful charity that helps on so many levels,” Dueck said. “The amount of money that goes directly to helping the animals and the people is huge, and the administrative costs are quite low. For that reason, we need the awareness out there, and I’m hoping that in the next five years everybody in my industry knows about this charity.”
Though some people may not be in a financial situation to be donating funds, donating time and knowledge is just as important, which is what Dueck hopes to do.
Brock and Dueck have both had successful winter seasons in Wellington, culminating with their appearances in the Nations Cup. Dueck was especially pleased with her performance that weekend with the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Cantaris, who is owned by Elizabeth Ferber.
“We got personal best scores through all of our tests and we were the starters both in the Prix St. Georges and the Intermediaire I, so we kind of had to set the bar,” Dueck said. “I was super proud; we didn’t make a mistake all weekend, so that was a very nice way to end the season. It was fantastic to end on such a high note.”
Brock was also happy with her season with Rosevelt. The pair’s two wins in Grand Prix CDI classes and consistent performances at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival established them among the top U.S. combinations. Though Brock believes Rosevelt enjoys showing, it is still important to her to maintain a balance. His wellbeing is far more important to her than winning a blue ribbon, and it is easy to see how this mindset translates to her support of the Brooke.
“I was really, really happy with my horse,” Brock said. “He is just getting better and better. Both of us needed experience, and I think I was smart to not over-show him. He was still happy to show at the end of the season, and I think that’s really important. You can take advantage of the shows, but you don’t want to overdo it. They have to want to go out there and be happy to be in that ring, and I think he was.”
The Brooke is currently working in 11 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, and in the last year it reached 1.5 million working horses, donkeys and mules, benefiting several million of the world’s poorest people. Brooke USA is a 501(c)(3) charity and exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke.
Upon arrival at Churchill Downs, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall was greeted by two miniature donkeys representing Brooke USA’s programs to improve the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules in the developing world.
International Equine Welfare Organization Hosts Royalty in Louisville
LEXINGTON, Ky (March 24, 2015) – Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall commemorated the advancement of Brooke USA at a reception for Brooke donors and guests at Churchill Downs on Friday, March 20.
As President of the Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare organization, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall planned the visit to the newly established American division of her charity while accompanying her husband, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, to Louisville as part of a brief visit to the United States.
“I am very proud to be the president of the Brooke,” said Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall at an event celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Brooke in 2014. “I love horses, and I’ve ridden all my life, so I am passionate about the work of this unique charity. Its determination to improve the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in many countries where animals are not so respected and loved as they are here is legendary.
“During the Second World War, my father was a cavalry officer stationed in Cairo, and I recollected him telling me about Dorothy Brooke and the wonderful work she was doing there,” continued Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall. “That is when my passion for the Brooke was ignited.”
Headquartered in London, England, the Brooke was founded by Dorothy Brooke in 1934. As the wife of a British Major General stationed in Cairo, Mrs. Brooke began a free veterinary clinic there after seeing the deplorable conditions of the British, Australian and American war horses who had been left behind in Egypt after WWI by the military and virtually sold into hard labor. The Brooke has expanded over the last 80 years to assist millions of working equines and the people who depend on them, and is currently working in Egypt, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nepal, Senegal, Jordan, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
At least 100 million working equines are the engines that power the developing world, doing the hardest jobs under the toughest conditions to support the livelihoods of 600 million people. That’s 9% of the world’s population. The Brooke is dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in communities where people often earn less than one dollar a day. Poverty and desperation often force owners to overwork their animals, resulting in a great deal suffering. Most of this suffering is preventable. The Brooke works together with local communities to bring about lasting improvements to the lives of their working animals, which also protects human livelihoods.
Brooke USA opened the American office in 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Brooke USA staff, board members, donors and guests travelled to Churchill Downs to honor Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall beginning with horses and donkeys in the saddling paddock at Churchill Downs followed by a reception. Kismet Acres brought two miniature donkeys to represent the Brooke’s global mission with working equines.
“The purpose of Brooke USA is to support the world-wide programs of the Brooke in alleviating the suffering of working horses, donkeys and mules,” said Petra Ingram, Chief Executive of the Brooke. “Americans have a close affinity with horses and are exceedingly generous to the impoverished places of the world, so we are deeply appreciative that Her Royal Highness is bringing attention to the plight of these working animals and to the Brooke’s proven solutions for long-term improvement to their welfare.”
Cindy Rullman is Fundraising Development Manager for the Brooke USA headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. She and members of the Brooke USA Board of Directors were present for the royal occasion.
“We were honored to have Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall with us,” said Ms. Rullman. “Since she began her role as President in 2006, Her Royal Highness has given the Brooke, and the animals and people whom we serve, the international awareness we need to advance the cause for the poor and suffering in our world today. She is keeping us on track to achieve our goal of reaching 2 million working equines, benefitting 12 million people, each year by 2016.”
Brooke USA exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke. Brooke USA is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible. Last year, the Brooke reached more than 1.4 million working horses, donkeys and mules across 11 countries in the developing world.
Wellington, FL – February 20, 2015 – It all began with a letter from Dorothy Brooke in 1931. She was the wife of a British army major general, stationed in Cairo, Egypt, just after the end of World War I. She had noticed a number of older, emaciated horses on the street being used and abused, pulling heavily loaded carts through the city streets. As the story is told, she was horrified to learn that many of these downtrodden and spiritless animals were ex-war horses from England, Australia, and the U.S., and that their Egyptian owners lacked the wherewithal to properly care for and support the horses.
These horses, which had been shipped over for the war, had been sold by the army to local working families as the war died down in 1918. In reality, they had been handed a life sentence of hard labor, being over worked, under fed and literally worked to death. That’s when she wrote her heartfelt letter to the Morning Post, describing the horrors she was seeing. The letter described a fund that was being established to buy up some of these heroic horses, ones who had been part of the fight for their country during the war. In her letter she concluded, “If those who truly love horses, those who realize what it means to be very old, very hungry, very thirsty and very tired, in a country where hard, ceaseless labor has to be done in great heat, will send contributions to help in giving a merciful end to our poor war heroes, we will be extremely grateful and in many ways we venture to think that this may be as fitting a part of a War Memorial as any other that could be devised.”
Readers were so moved that over $32,000 was raised – a significant sum in the 1930s. Thanks to those generous people, Dorothy and her team of volunteers were able to purchase nearly five thousand of the old war horses. They were in such poor health that most were euthanized immediately, but thanks to Dorothy and the donors, they ended their lives peacefully.
By 1934, there was enough money and support for Dorothy to christen the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo, which offered free veterinary care for the city’s working horses and donkeys.
With that, the Brooke was born.
Today, that organization named in honor of Dorothy Brooke spans the globe, working in communities where many people earn less than a dollar a day. The Brooke has improved the welfare of millions of working equines and the people who depend on the animals to survive their daily lives.
The Brooke’s outreach now has expanded to eleven nations on three continents with programs in India, Egypt, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Jordan, Senegal, Guatemala and Nicaragua with free mobile or static veterinary clinics operating in nearly all of those countries. Plans are now underway to add to their life saving efforts with additional countries in Africa, Asia and Central and South America on the expansion list.
An American fundraising branch, Brooke USA, has recently been opened in Lexington, Kentucky, to support the overseas work of the Brooke.
Cindy Rullman is the Fundraising Development Manager for Brooke USA. She notes, “The combination of providing direct, hands-on intervention for individual animals, coupled with the Brooke’s vast worldwide view and their ability to reach more than a million animals each year, is extremely exciting and rewarding to me,” she said. “Add to that the fact that we reach millions of the world’s poorest people and you have something that’s truly unique, truly significant and something that really matters.”
She went on to explain, “It matters because it improves the lives of the people and animals who are often invisible to the rest of the world, and it matters because it affects the economy of entire regions.”
Stated simply, Rullman concluded, “The Brooke can ease the suffering of a downtrodden donkey who lives with his owner in a slum, and consequently make life better for that owner and family who are depending on the donkey to help them scratch out a living. Both benefit. And we do that hundreds of times a day, every day, millions of times each year. How incredible is that?”
To become involved with the Brooke, please visit their website at: www.BrookeUSA.org.
Susie Webb for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International