Tag Archives: Equestrian Aid Foundation

Equestrian Aid Foundation Grant Helps California Trainer through Recovery Period

Lisa Avila schooling a young eventing prospect on the cross-country course. Photo by Carolyn Orndoff.

Wellington, Fla. – Apr. 29, 2019 – As the daughter of a cattle foreman, California native Lisa Avila grew up in the saddle. Horsemanship was second nature. While her passion for high performance horse sports eventually led her to experiences far beyond ranch life, a generations-old ability to train horses was coded into her DNA.

In 2008 she established Burgeon Training in California’s East Bay, where she has built her reputation within the equestrian community by starting young horses and retraining difficult ones. Her interests lie in dressage and eventing, but she is readily available to help horsemen of any discipline work more productively with their animals.

Last November, Lisa tore her ACL upon falling off a young horse, effectively bringing her business to a halt. It wasn’t a particularly bad fall, she remembers, just an unlucky landing. She underwent surgery to repair the tear, and doctors gave her a strict timeline for recovery and rehabilitation. “As horse people, we’re always getting hurt, but this was the first time I really had to put on the brakes and so I could heal,” said Lisa. “It scared me.”

With her business in limbo, Lisa and her husband faced the mounting pressure of their financial responsibilities. Their lifestyle was modest, yet with two young children, the family was dependent upon two incomes. Lisa reached out to the Equestrian Aid Foundation for assistance, and the grant she received helped pay the rent for the family’s home during her recovery period.

With the financial burden alleviated, Lisa spent the winter months in physical therapy and is now beginning to focus on her business again. While she isn’t strong enough to train or jump yet, she has been cleared to start legging herself back up on her quietest horses. “The answer’s not always ‘no’ from the doctors anymore,” she says optimistically.

Lisa first learned of the Equestrian Aid Foundation in a magazine ad several years ago, but it wasn’t until the unthinkable happened that she realized the depth of the foundation’s commitment to getting equestrians back on their feet. “EAF’s grant was a huge deal for me,” she said. “It was a real blessing.”

For more information about Equestrian Aid Foundation, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Paddock Master Pruning Funds Will Bring Relief to Horsemen in the Heartland

Roads and pasture land remain non-navigable for many horsemen in the Heartland, where Bomb Cyclone Ulmer wreaked havoc earlier this month. Photo submitted.

Wellington, Fla. – March 29, 2019 – Funds raised by the equestrian community during the WEF ingate staff’s Paddock Master Pruning are making an impact far and wide, as horsemen across the western states face the devastation of crippling flooding and blizzards. The Equestrian Aid Foundation is partnering with the nonprofit organization Fleet of Angels, where a portion of Pruning funds have been used to send a tractor trailer loaded with hay to a distribution center near the borders of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

“The devastation from this storm ranges from northern New Mexico up to Michigan, with either snow or flooding in all states in between,” said Elaine Nash, executive director of Fleet of Angels and coordinator of its Hay Bank. “The Equestrian Aid Foundation’s support will be essential to struggling horsemen in the Heartland.”

While the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s primary mission is to assist horsemen facing catastrophic illness or injury, its Disaster Relief Fund provides emergency assistance to equestrian communities in crisis.  “Of course, we can’t entirely mitigate the loss these people have experienced, but as fellow horsemen we can stand beside them and help them take the next step forward,” said EAF board member Monique Keitz.  “Its levity aside, the Paddock Master Pruning was a poignant example of the equestrian community’s desire and ability to take care of its own.”

Donations to the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund made through April 15 will be used to support relief efforts for equestrian communities in the Heartland.

For more information about Equestrian Aid Foundation, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Spread the Love This Holiday Season

Need a good gift idea? Make a tribute donation to the Equestrian Aid Foundation in honor or memory of the special equestrian in your life.

When you do, we’ll send a special notification of your gift to the person you designate.

For your tribute of $25 or more, we’ll also send you an EAF eco bag to fill with horse treats or people treats or whatever your big heart desires.

Click here to get started, or email us to set up your tribute gift.

For more information about Equestrian Aid Foundation, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

The California Fires: Four Ways to Help

Horses and humans seek refuge in Zuma Beach (Brittny Mejia / Los Angeles Times)

Wellington, Florida — Nov. 14, 2018 — It’s heartbreaking to watch the images coming out of California this week, especially those involving fellow horsemen. For those who feel compelled to help, it can be hard to know where donations will have the most impact. While many credible efforts to raise funds for California’s wildfire victims exist, here are four direct and effective ways you can help members of the equestrian community in crisis:

  1. Donate to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation

This foundation provides vital private funding for the Los Angeles Fire Department when city funds run out. Tax-deductible donations go directly to the firefighters, securing the equipment and supplies they need for their courageous effort on the front lines.

  1. Donate to Woosley Fire Horse Relief

This Facebook fundraiser initiated by California horsewoman Sami Gros is grassroots-meets-digital-age mobilization at its finest. Sami and others are working around the clock to locate, transport, and care for horses and horse people in devastated areas. She knows what these horsemen need because she’s beside them in the thick of disaster, and she pledges that every dime raised will be put toward the immediate needs of these animals and their caretakers who have lost everything.

  1. Donate to Horse Relocation and Support Costs

Devon Maitozo, WEG team coach and the most decorated vaulter in U.S. history, is working to help other horsemen even as the safety of his renowned vaulting center in Thousand Oaks remains in question. Donations to Devon’s Facebook fundraiser will help provide feed to displaced horses and veterinary care to those injured by fire and smoke.

  1. Donate to the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund

One hundred percent of your tax-deductible donation will go to the North Valley Animal Disaster Group, U.C. Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team, and the Humane Society of Ventura County. US Equestrian will be working through the USEF Disaster Relief Fund with these organizations and others over the coming weeks to support the ongoing rescue and rehabilitation efforts throughout the state of California.

No donation is too small. Together, we can make a difference.

#HorsemenHelpingHorsemen

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Janise Gray Retires as EAF’s Director of Grant Recipient Services

Gray (right) with EAF grant recipient Debbie Atkinson, Mary Phelps, and a friend of the foundation in 2007. Photo courtesy of Phelps Photos.

Wellington, Fla. – Sept. 24, 2018 – The Equestrian Aid Foundation announced this week that Janise Gray has retired as the foundation’s Director of Grant Recipient Services. She had held the position for over 20 years.

“For two decades, Janise has been a compassionate advocate for each and every person our foundation has assisted,” said board treasurer Marilou Case. “While we wish her the very best in her new adventures, we will surely miss her presence amidst the day-to-day workings of the foundation.”

A professional equestrian with a background in dressage and eventing, Gray joined EAF’s Board of Directors in 1996 and served briefly as the organization’s Executive Director before taking over the role of Director of Grant Recipient Services. In addition to her service to the foundation’s grant recipients, she was also involved in fundraising and event planning.

The foundation’s grant recipients characterize Gray as a true friend. “So many times I fell down trying to make my legs work, and she would say, ‘Get back on the horse!’” said Joe McCloskey, a farrier who received aid from EAF after sustaining a crush injury. “She was the first person I called when I found a new way to move my legs.”

A resident of New Jersey, Gray’s immediate plans for retirement include focusing on her four-legged children — a trio of Cirneco dell’Etna sight hounds that are both pets and agility athletes. However, the friendships she has forged in the equestrian community will remain a central part of her life.

“I am so proud to have been an integral part of this organization,” said Gray of her years with the Equestrian Aid Foundation. “I have grieved for those we’ve lost and rejoice for all who we’ve helped. I will miss all we have accomplished together to assist our fellow equestrians.”

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Equestrian Aid Foundation Is a Proud Partner of 43rd Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show

Wellington, Florida — August 24, 2018 — The Equestrian Aid Foundation is proud to return for the second year as an official partner of the Hampton Classic Horse Show.

The Hampton Classic Horse Show and its exhibitors hold special significance to the Equestrian Aid Foundation. “Since our inception in 1996, the Hamptons equestrian community has been an integral force in the work we do,” said foundation board member and co-founder Scot Evans. “The Hampton Classic itself is characterized by a unique international-yet-local energy. Its organizers and exhibitors are truly committed to the equestrian community and never hesitate to turn their conviction into action.”

The Equestrian Aid Foundation is one of ten charities that will participate in the horse show’s signature Jump for Charity presented by Sea Shore Stables. The event will be held during Friday’s $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, where riders will compete to raise money for ten designated charities with connections to the Hamptons community. Catherine Tyree will captain the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s team.

Funds for the Jump for Charity are generated through the sale of team ball caps and a raffle to win a course walk with a Grand Prix rider. Click here to make your purchases to support your favorite team, or visit the Hampton Classic’s information booths or souvenir stand.

Last year, a Jump for Charity win by Daniel Bluman earned $12,000 for Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Joining Tyree as team captains in this year’s competition are Georgina Bloomberg, Daniel Bluman, Beezie Madden, Callan Solem, Adrienne Sternlicht, Shane Sweetnam, Jimmy Torano, McLain Ward and Andrew Welles.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Jose Aguilar Wins $2,000 EAF Grooms Class at Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

Class sponsor Missy Luczak-Smith with winner Jose Aguilar and Fearless, owned by Emily Durlach. Photo by Sally Floyd Kay.

Blowing Rock, N.C. – July 30, 2018 – Jose Aguilar and his charge Fearless, a 6-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Emily Durlach, topped a field of 14 entries to win the $2,000 Equestrian Aid Foundation Hunter Grooms Class at the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show on Sunday.

“So much of a groom’s work happens behind the scenes, but these individuals are the heart and soul of the equestrian community,” said Missy Luczak-Smith, who has organized and sponsored the class since 2013. “The Grooms Class is a wonderful way to recognize their dedication to the horses they care for and to the sport in general.”

The top six entries were awarded cash prizes, and all class entries received gifts from FarmVet and a supply of Shapley’s Superior Grooming Products. Luczak-Smith said that the continuing partnership between Equestrian Aid Foundation and Shapley’s, which began earlier this year, is especially meaningful because both organizations share a commitment to the wellbeing of the equestrian community.

Aguilar also took home an Equestrian Aid Foundation rain jacket, donated by Luczak-Smith from The Clothes Horse. Second place winner Daniel Gomez, handling Caroline Moran’s Bacardi, took home an Equestrian Aid Foundation vest, also donated by Luczak-Smith from The Clothes Horse.

Luczak-Smith has been involved with the Equestrian Aid Foundation since 2005 and has served on its board of directors for over a decade. A consistently successful competitor in the Amateur Owner hunter division, she currently trains with Karen A. Kelley of Sims Hill Farm. The North Carolina-based training facility is a proud Equestrian Aid Foundation Stable Partner, a designation given to stables whose members work collectively to support the foundation’s mission of helping fellow horsemen recover and thrive following catastrophic illness or injury.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

EAF Salutes Julie Ross for Her Longstanding Commitments to the Equestrian Community

Photo: Julie Ross with her son Robert Ross.

Wellington, Fla. – July 5, 2018 – As the mother of a professional rider who worked his way up through the ranks, Julie Ross has a keen understanding of the equestrian community from her view at the periphery. She knows about the drive and dedication of the equestrian community.

Ten years ago, Julie Ross, mother of Equestrian Aid Foundation co-founder and board member Robert Ross, made a commitment to the equestrian community. “I asked my son what he wanted for Christmas.  He said he would love it if I made a donation to the Equestrian Aid Foundation,” said Julie. “So I did, and I have not stopped as it feels pretty good to give and contribute to the Equestrian Aid Foundation.”

Through her unwavering monthly commitment, Julie has singlehandedly funded over 100 doctors’ visits for horsemen whose lives and livelihoods depended on the care they received during times of medical and financial crisis.

“Her contributions help ensure Equestrian Aid Foundation has the funds to get critically ill and injured equestrians back on their feet and, in most cases, earning a living by doing the work they love,” said board member Scot Evans.

Julie is the motivation for the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s Change Rein Monthly Giving Program, an initiative that encourages members of the equestrian community to donate on a monthly basis.

“Each month your spare change can effect a huge change for an equestrian struggling to become self-sufficient again,” said Janise Gray, Director of Grant Recipient Services. “As one of our recipients told me, you’re not giving a hand-out; you’re giving a hand up.”

For questions about the Change Rein Monthly Giving Program or help setting up your donation, please contact Janise Gray at Janise@EquestrianAid.org.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Equestrian Aid Foundation Helps Breeder with Necessities after Catastrophic Accident

Photo courtesy of the Wight family.

Committed to a life of serving others, Loren and Nancy Wight once suspended their Egyptian Arabian breeding operation and moved to Honduras for a year, where Loren helped local communities as an ophthalmic technologist. Now, he is learning to be on the receiving end of help.

In an unsuspecting moment on the family’s Idaho ranch, life changed forever. Loren was teaching a new employee how to operate their tractor when it lurched forward and knocked him down. He was trapped under the tractor’s giant rear wheel, and the only way to get him out was to back over him again.

Loren suffered a catastrophic crush injury to his lower legs, and in the resultant fall, he also sustained a traumatic brain injury. Even after numerous surgeries and rehabilitative therapies, the fate of his lower right leg remains uncertain and may require amputation. The blow to his head left Loren legally blind and impaired his memory, effectively ending both his livelihood as an ophthalmic technologist and a horse breeder.

It’s been a daily struggle since Loren’s accident. Nancy and his daughter work tirelessly to fill his shoes financially and as a farm worker — caring for the horses and other animals, overseeing the breeding operation, and milking the dairy goats. Loren assists where and when he can. Ever resourceful, the family supplements their income by selling eggs, hand-knit mittens, and soaps and lotions made from goat’s milk.

Amidst the day-to-day bustle of farm life, Loren’s health struggles loom in the background. Once self-sufficient and able to provide for his family, Loren relies for the time being on funds from the Equestrian Aid Foundation to keep food on the table and the house warm. Thanks to our donors, however, these necessities are in place.

“I don’t know how, but I vow to give back to the Equestrian Aid Foundation once we get through this tough time,” Loren says. In the meantime, he is grateful for the compassion of the equestrian community as he and his family work toward a brighter future.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Equestrian Aid Foundation Helps Eventer Kim Meier Cope after Life-Altering Injury

Kim Meier with Bart (top) and Test Run. Photos courtesy of Kim Meier.

Wellington, Fla. – Apr. 9, 2018 – Kim Meier reached the pinnacle of eventing before tragedy struck. In 2007 she was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a freak accident. For Kim and horse people like her facing catastrophic injury and illness, life becomes a struggle.

Kim carved her career in classic eventer fashion, riding homebreds and doing all the work herself. She developed her work ethic at the summer camp her family owned, fell in love with the horses and was determined to be an eventer. Largely self-taught, she also worked with Denny Emerson, Ralph Hill and Donnan Sharp.

Test Run or “Merle” was her ticket to the big time. She had bred his sire and his sire’s dam. In 2002, Kim and the gray Thoroughbred finished Bromont. Then in 2003, they competed at Foxhall Three Day Event, their first three star, then Fair Hill. At the Rolex (now the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event) Four Star Event in 2004, they had a top-10 finish out of 72 starters. They competed at Burghley and finished. She was 45 and looking forward to great things.

In 2005, Merle was sidelined due to an injury. Then, Kim’s barn endured a frightening and emotional experience with the EHV-1 virus. Merle got through it and they got back to work.

“I did three Intermediates that year in the summer and fall, planning my big comeback at Rolex in 2007,” Kim said in an article she wrote for Eventing Nation. “We did one Intermediate, and that next Tuesday I was doing a jumping school when IT happened. On the way to a vertical, he stepped on his bell boot and went down on his knees. I slid down his neck and caught the rail on the base of my head.”

As a result of her fall, Kim suffers from paralysis from the C5 vertebra down. Despite extensive rehabilitative therapies, Kim’s doctors said she could never ride, stand or walk again and would forever be wheelchair bound.

“It’s great how the Equestrian Aid Foundation jumped right in to help from the very beginning right after I got hurt,” Kim said.

The Foundation provided financial assistance to help Kim with basic living expenses. Her daughter and friends help her with daily activities and make certain she has the care she needs.

Though it’s been a long, tough road, Kim remains resilient and has the courageous spirit to stay as active as possible. She works judging unrated horse shows when she can, gives some lessons and does the occasional clinic.

Your donation to Equestrian Aid Foundation provides much-needed support for horse people like Kim facing catastrophic injury and illness.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.