|Discovering “Happy Places” thanks to EQUUS Foundation’s Champions & Ariat
“I found my ‘happy place’ at Ride On St. Louis (ROSL),” said Volunteer Tracey Talley. “Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy at home with my husband, or spending time with our kids and six grand kids – but, volunteering at ROSL lets me witness – firsthand – the joy in the children’s eyes while riding on a horse that simulates the movements their own bodies can’t, or hearing a non-verbal child tell their therapy horse ‘Walk on’ evokes indescribable emotions. I feel blessed.”
Ariat International, the sponsor of the EQUUS Foundation Champions program, randomly selects volunteers who have earned Champion status to receive Ariat boots each quarter. “These hard-working horse lovers are so grateful to receive the Ariat boots and the recognition for the essential work they are performing at equine charities across the United States,” said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President.
Tracey Talley & Alice
Tracey has always loved kids and horses. So when she heard about ROSL and how horses are utilized as therapy for kids and adults with disabilities, she knew she would love volunteering there.
Tracey got involved in March 2016, helping with clean up after flood waters damaged the grounds, stalls, barns, and office (Read more here). It was a major setback for their program, but they worked hard to get back to helping others again.
Once their operations were restored, Tracey volunteered for anything that needed to be done – feeding, grazing, and grooming the horses, cleaning stalls as well as sidewalking, and is training to lead.
“It’s all vital to keep this amazing program going,” and volunteering allowed me to make new friends while making a difference. I cherish the amazing friends I’ve made there already”.
Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary (AGES)
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
It was Laurie’s granddaughter Nathalie who reconnected 58-year old Laurie Kaiser with her love of horses four years ago. Nathalie was only nine years old but was captivated with horses.
“Volunteering was the perfect solution for me to get quality time with my granddaughter and satisfy our love of horses”, said Laurie. Now Laurie goes out to AGES about four times a week during the warmer months and one or two times during the winter months. She mucks out the stalls, grooms, walks horses, builds fences, cleans and fills water tanks, helps with farrier and vet visits, and anything else they need her to do.
Married with three children and with the tenth grandchild on the way, Laurie said, “I love volunteering and helping save horses. I look forward to helping rescue many more horses in the years to come.”
Laurie Kaiser & granddaughter Nathalie
Five of Laurie’s granddaughters and one grandson, ranging in age from four to eleven have volunteered alongside Laurie over the past four years.
Laurie Kaiser & Trigger
Trigger is a 30+ year old Shetland pony rescued, and now a permanent resident at AGES.
Catherine (Cat) Madden
Hope Equine Rescue (HER)
Cat with Onion (Vidalia)
“I’ve always loved horses, and volunteering at HER provided me the opportunity to fill the void of never having my own,” said Cat Madden. “Being a volunteer has opened my eyes to the world of neglected horses.” For the past four years, Cat has worked with 80+ horses in regaining their confidence, trust, rehabilitation and finding their forever homes.
One of the rescues, Vidalia (nicknamed Onion), captured a special place in Cat’s heart. The nickname suited her perfectly because of the many layers of abuse and neglect she endured before being seized by the sheriff’s office in November 2015. She showed severe signs of trauma to her ears and face, which made her weary and nervous of halters, bridles, and a simple touch.
With Cat’s help, Onion began her journey to recover and to trust in people again. Onion can now be haltered, and enjoys having her face and ears rubbed by Cat ñ a far cry from when the horse would not trust or allow this touch in such a vulnerable place. “It’s my goal this year to get a bridle and saddle on her and really focus on her true potential.”
“Hope Equine Rescue is more than just a rescue for horses, it’s a second family. I’ve made lasting friendships with both people and horses.”
Linda & Sonny
Linda Lecher’s involvement with Equi-librium began in March of 2013 after retiring from a 34-year career as a special education teacher. At the time, Northampton County Special Olympics partnered with Equi-librium to start an equestrian program, and Linda signed on to serve as a coach.
Now Linda’s responsibilities include serving as a horse leader and sidewalker, horse care, assisting with new volunteer trainings, serving as a volunteer mentor, committee work, camps, and fund raising events. Volunteering has also allowed Linda to improve her personal riding skills, and after a 15-year break, she is back in the saddle and taking lessons at a nearby facility.
“The time I spend at the barn provides me with the perfect opportunity to stay connected to the special needs population, connect with my love of horses, and get lots of exercise!”
“It is very rewarding to watch the riders as they gain skills and confidence through the relationship they build with their horses. I enjoy spending time with the clients and a very committed and passionate group of staff and volunteers.”
About EQUUS Foundation: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, the only national animal welfare charity in the United States dedicated solely to horse welfare and the horse-human bond. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.equusfoundation.org.
About Ariat International: Ariat International, Inc. is the leading manufacturer of innovative performance equestrian footwear, apparel and belts. Featuring a patented technology designed to deliver stability, durability and comfort, Ariat pioneered the application of advanced athletic shoe technology into English riding boots and authentic Western boots. Ariat products are sold in a network of retail outlets throughout the world. For more information about Ariat products or for the Ariat retailer nearest you, contact Ariat at 800.899.8141 or visit www.ariat.com.