Category Archives: Equestrian Aid Found.

Join Us in Supporting the Emergency Hay Bank

In response to the devastating wildfires currently burning across the western United States, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has made a grant to the Fleet of Angels’ HayThere! Emergency Horse Hay Micro-Grant Program.

Our partnership with this program helps horsemen in crisis to care for their animals in evacuation situations and in the aftermath of natural disaster – from fires to hurricanes and beyond.

Please join us in supporting the Emergency Horse Hay Micro-Grant Program.

Your tax-deductible donation today will help horse owners affected by natural disasters as they face the uncertainty of tomorrow.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

First Time’s a Charm for Daniel Castillo in $4k EAF Grooms Class at Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

Angela Pollack, Missy Luczak-Smith, and Daniel Castillo with As Ever. Photo by Cathrin Cammett.

Aug. 3, 2021 – Blowing Rock, NC – Professional groom Daniel Castillo is no stranger to horse shows, but last Sunday was the first time he attended one as a competitor. In his first venture into the show ring, Castillo topped a field of twenty entries to win the ninth annual Equestrian Aid Foundation Grooms Class at the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show.

An employee of Spring Mill Farm in Memphis, Tenn., 21-year-old Castillo was encouraged to enter the class by his coworkers. Judge Bob Crandall had the difficult task of ranking the entries, but in the end, Castillo came out on top with As Ever, a 2008 grey Holsteiner gelding owned by Ella Trotz. “I’m very honored to get to show in this class with so many of my friends and fellow grooms,” said Castillo. “It’s incredible to be chosen as the winner and I thank everyone at Shapley’s, the Blowing Rock Horse Show, the sponsors, and the Equestrian Aid Foundation for this opportunity.”

Since its inception in 2013, the EAF Grooms Class at Blowing Rock has been organized and sponsored by Equestrian Aid Foundation board member Missy Luczak-Smith and her husband Doug Smith. “Every year, this class is incredibly competitive,” said Luczak-Smith. “It’s a real testament to the professionalism of our top grooms and the integral part they play in our sport.”

In addition to prize money, the class winner was awarded a custom belt buckle from Kathy’s Show Equipment, a family-run business that specializes in high quality, handmade horse show equipment and apparel. Top-placing grooms also received products from Shapley’s Superior Grooming Products.

Luczak-Smith recognized Shapley’s for their longstanding commitment to both the Equestrian Aid Foundation and the industry’s working professionals. She also expressed thanks to Caroline Moran and the Gibson family for their generous support of the class.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Duchossois’ Legacy Shines in ACHS’s Support of Equestrian Aid Foundation

Duchossois at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo by Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com.

May 18, 2021 – Wellington, Fla. – The Equestrian Aid Foundation is honored to be a beneficiary of the 2021 Aiken Charity Horse Show, which culminated Sunday at Bruce’s Field. The two-week annual event is held in memory of Bruce Duchossois, a former EAF board member and champion of tradition, integrity, and excellence across the equestrian disciplines.

As the Equestrian Aid Foundation enters into its 25th year, the charitable donation from ACHS serves as a poignant reminder of Duchossois’ legacy. A member of EAF’s executive committee, Duchossois was an integral part of the foundation’s vision until his death in 2014. “When it comes to horsemen helping horsemen, Bruce walked the walk,” said EAF board member Scot Evans, who counted Duchossois among his closest friends. “His example has been a north star for the Equestrian Aid Foundation for 25 years, and we know he would be so proud of where we are today.”

For 25 years, the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s impact has been far reaching, both geographically and throughout the equestrian disciplines. Incorporated in 1996 as a grassroots relief organization for horsemen and women with HIV/AIDS, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has since expanded its mission in response to the equestrian community’s most critical needs. While maintaining its commitment to those coping with catastrophic illness or injury, the foundation also operates a Disaster Relief Fund that assists communities in crisis due to natural or other unforeseen disasters. In 2020 alone, EAF helped nearly 300 industry professionals across the United States through its COVID emergency grant program.

In Duchossois’ honor, the donation from Aiken Charity Horse Show marks the launch of the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s 25-for-25 Anniversary Campaign. Follow EAF on social media or sign up for its mailing list as the foundation celebrates its first 25 years and carries its vision of horsemen helping horsemen into the future.

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

EAF Announces COVID Recovery Grant for Palm Beach County Equestrian Industry Workers

Lenir Perez, Ana Sofia Perez, and Juan Andres Rodriguez competed for EAF in the 2021 Great Charity Challenge. Photo by Lois Spatz.

Mar. 22, 2021 — Wellington, Fla. — The Equestrian Aid Foundation is proud to announce the creation of its Equestrian Recovery Grant Opportunity (ERGO) program. The program — a one-time grant opportunity for qualifying equestrian professionals and industry service providers — has been made possible through the Great Charity Challenge. In the 2021 event, EAF won $40,000 to apply to COVID relief and recovery efforts in Palm Beach County.

Within the horse world, COVID-19 has had a disproportionately detrimental impact on equestrian professionals and industry service providers. As small business owners and independent contractors who occupy a unique niche in the workforce, many members of the equestrian community have been overlooked for SBA and PPP loans or critically underserved by unemployment. The ERGO program is designed to identify local equestrians who fall into these categories and help them regain stability.

“Last March, we opened our first COVID Emergency Grant program within a week of the industry shutdown to quickly help workers in crisis as they figured out their next steps,” said EAF board member Louise Riggio. “The applicant data from this ongoing program demonstrates just how hard hit our equestrian community has been.”

To date, the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s initial COVID Emergency Grant program has delivered over $130,000 in aid to 281 equestrian professionals and industry service providers across the United States. “It’s been inspiring to hear that many of these individuals are back to work and doing well, but we know many others are still struggling,” said EAF board member Robert Ross of Wellington, Fla. “While we can’t mitigate every situation, thanks to the Great Charity Challenge, we will be able to make a considerable impact locally.”

Pursuant to Great Charity Challenge guidelines, the $40,000 ERGO fund will be available to qualified workers who claim Palm Beach County as their full-time residence. More information about the grant program can be found here.

The ERGO program application window will open on Monday, Apr. 4, 2021, at 8 a.m. and will close in early May. The application will be accessible in an online format or as a PDF on the Equestrian Aid Foundation website.

Clip-a-Thon to Benefit EAF’s COVID Emergency Fund for Industry Professionals

Wellington, Fla. — Oct. 23, 2020 — Freelance groom Tim Gaskell and lifelong equestrian and marketing professional Kayla Wright are back in action for a second round of their wildly successful Clip-a-Thon, and this time, they’re bringing friends.

When the COVID-related industry shutdown wreaked financial havoc for many equestrian professionals last spring, the duo planned and executed a 24-hour, live-streamed clipping marathon to raise money for their struggling colleagues. The result of their effort was a $10,000 donation to EAF’s COVID Emergency Relief Fund for industry professionals.

With COVID cases appearing to be on the rise again, Gaskell is uneasy about what the coming months might hold for grooms, braiders, horse show staff, and other workers — many of who are just tenuously back on their feet after the initial shutdown. “I’m not confident about what’s going to happen this winter,” said Gaskell while driving a load of horses to Kentucky last month. “Let’s do a second Clip-a-Thon so there’s money for COVID relief in case people need it.”

That Clip-a-Thon begins on Monday, Oct. 26. Like the first event, it will be live-streamed on Facebook via The Clip-a-Thon’s event page. Gaskell will be joined by an enthusiastic lineup of guest clippers from all over the country, all of whom will be donating their proceeds to EAF’s COVID Emergency Fund. “I love to support EAF because their mission allows professionals of all types to survive all sorts of setbacks,” said trainer Katie Wild, who will be clipping from southeastern Pennsylvania on Monday. “Whether it is COVID, cancer, a bad fall — the little things like groceries and gas that can be taken for granted are a necessity for others!”

How to Get Involved

  • Visit the live feed between 8 a.m. on Monday and 8 p.m. Tuesday to show your support for Tim, Kayla, and the clippers — and most importantly, our industry’s workers. Learn more about the Clip-a-Thon’s prizes and drawings, and make a donation while you’re there!
  • Sponsor an hour of the Clip-a-Thon. Join a growing list of dedicated individuals and businesses like Shapley’s and On Course Consignment who are standing in solidarity with equestrian professionals during this difficult time. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Tim Gaskell.
  • Donate a clip job to EAF’s COVID Emergency Fund! Do you have a hairy horse? Contact Kayla Wright if you’d like to clip on the live stream. Or just share a picture to the Clip-a-Thon’s Facebook page when you’ve finished clipping. Proceeds can be donated to the Clip-a-Thon or directly to the Equestrian Aid Foundation.
  • Make a donation in honor of your braider, groom, clipper, shipper — that dedicated worker (or workers) who makes your horse world go ’round. We’ll be sure they get special mention on the Clip-a-Thon’s live feed.

About EAF’s COVID Emergency Fund

In March of 2020, the Equestrian Aid Foundation opened its Disaster Relief Fund to assist equestrian professionals and industry service providers in unexpected financial crisis as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund remains open to help workers who continue to struggle as a direct result of COVID-related cancellations and disruptions within the industry. To date, 274 grants have been issued.

For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rescue Relief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help for Horse People

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

Get Involved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Leslie Potter/US Equestrian Communications Department

COVID Update: Do You Have a Little Hay to Spare?

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Fleet of Angels Emergency Hay Bank coordinators are working hard to meet the overwhelming needs of horse owners across the United States. For some, a little hay is the deciding factor between surrendering their horses and “rescuing in place” until the situation stabilizes.

If you’re in a position to help, you can do so by donating hay or making a monetary donation. Every donation — a few bales or a few dollars — helps!

If you need hay, learn more about the application process here.

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

Equestrian Aid Foundation Processes COVID-19 Relief Grants for Industry Professionals in Crisis

Wellington, Florida — Apr. 16, 2020 — The Equestrian Aid Foundation is proud to announce the distribution of 160 relief checks to equestrians in financial crisis as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative to support equestrian professionals and industry service providers has been funded through EAF’s Disaster Relief Fund.

“The essential shutdown of our industry has really thrown the community into crisis,” said EAF board member Scot Evans. “Many of the people we work among week in and week out have been left with no means of financial security and no way forward. It’s been devastating.”

Applications for emergency grants have come from all corners of the equestrian community, from jump crew to stewards to instructors whose lesson income has all but disappeared. Thanks to community support, private donations, and the Great Charity Challenge, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has been able to fund emergency grant payments of $500 to assist qualified applicants with basic living expenses. The Foundation is also honored to have financial support from a growing number of businesses.

“When we conceptualized our Disaster Relief Fund several years ago, we never imagined we’d be helping our community through a pandemic,” said EAF board member Louise Riggio. “But this fund is designed to help people overcome the unimaginable. We’re making great strides to help alleviate the financial impact of COVID-19, and as long as we have community support, we’ll continue to face it head-on. We are horsemen helping horsemen.”

All donations to the Disaster Relief Fund will be directed toward assistance for equestrian professionals and service providers who are in financial crisis as a direct result of COVID-19.

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

Equestrian Aid Foundation Opens Disaster Relief Fund

Wellington, Fla. — Mar. 26, 2020 — The Equestrian Aid Foundation has opened its Disaster Relief Fund to assist equestrian professionals and industry service providers in unexpected financial crisis as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation will prioritize assistance to industry professionals and service providers who have lost their primary or only income as a direct result of the pandemic. A one-time emergency grant payment of $500 is intended to assist qualified applicants with basic living expenses. The grant window for EAF’s COVID-19 relief program is open through April 15.

In light of the recent guidelines set by US Equestrian regarding the suspension of horse showing for an extended period of time, the equestrian community is facing critical need now more than ever.

Donations made to EAF’s Disaster Relief Fund at this time will be directed in full toward assistance for equestrian professionals and industry service providers in financial crisis directly due to the suspension and related cancellations caused by COVID-19.

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

California Fire Season Prompts Grant from EAF’s Disaster Relief Fund

Photo by Matt Howard.

Wellington, Fla. – Nov. 25, 2019 – The Equestrian Aid Foundation provided a grant to the Fleet of Angels’ Emergency Horse Hay Bank program this week to support the organization’s ongoing work of providing horse owners with essential forage in the aftermath of natural disaster. The donation was prompted by recent wildfires in California.

“While we have been told the California equestrian community has fared slightly better than expected, the grave accounts we’ve heard from horsemen who evacuated compelled us to take action,” said EAF board member R. Scot Evans. “Given the increasing frequency and severity of these fires and natural disasters, our donation to the Hay Bank will ensure immediate funds for whatever the equestrian community faces next.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2019 is the fifth consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the United States(1). Elaine Nash, founder of Fleet of Angels and director of its Emergency Horse Hay Bank program, sees firsthand the toll these disasters have taken on equestrian communities. “For well over a year, we’ve had continual natural disaster work to do,” she said. “As horse owners and first responders are learning all too frequently these days, providing evacuation and post-disaster services for large animals like horses is a great and costly challenge.”

The Equestrian Aid Foundation established its Disaster Relief Fund in early 2019 to assist equestrian communities devastated by natural disaster. True to EAF’s motto of “horsemen helping horsemen,” the fund was met with enthusiastic community support, thus enabling outreach such as this week’s donation to the Fleet of Angels’ Emergency Horse Hay Bank. EAF thanks its donors and supporters who made this assistance possible.

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