Experiencing the Power of Horses through Volunteerism

Thanks to Ariat International, five deserving volunteers at equine charities across the United States receive a $270 Gift Card for Ariat Boots each quarter. Ariat International sponsors the EQUUS Foundation Champions program, which aims to stimulate and reward volunteerism on behalf of horses.

We would like to congratulate the winners for the first quarter of 2022: Charlotte Casse, Brett Hurlburt, Hailey Nicholson, John Snyder, and Bretten Winkelman . The EQUUS Foundation is grateful for volunteers like these who dedicate their time to keeping horses safe and healthy and aiding the charities and horses that serve people in need.

Brett Hurlburt

Sunshine Horses, Inc.

Clay, New York

EQUUS Foundation

Left: Brett Hurlburt with Dodger who arrived at Sunshine Horses in November 2021; Right: Brett Hurlburt saying “Farewell” to Big Joe aka Joey Jookis, who Brett had helped train last year before he was adopted in March.

Brett Hurlburt started volunteering at Sunshine Horses in April of 2021. “Sunshine Horses offered me a way to ‘return to my roots’ and give back to the community”, said Hurlburt, who had grown up in Michigan and was an active 4-H member throughout his childhood. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1998 and serving in the Army, he now works as an electrical utility contractor building power lines — a far cry from the horses and life on the farm that he missed. At Sunshine Horses, he serves on the training team and is a member of the Equine Care Council.

Charlotte Case
Blue Sky Therapeutic Riding & Respite
Aubrey, Texas

EQUUS Foundation

Charlotte Casse with Hank

Charlotte Casse started volunteering for Blue Sky Therapeutic Riding and Respite in July of 2021 and is now an instructor in training. “It’s the perfect place for me to express my love for horses and my desire to work with people,” said Casse, who is not only a horsewoman, but also a visual artist. She is currently studying studio art with a focus in sculpture.

Hailey Nicholson
Ridin’ High, Inc.
Morristown, Tennessee

EQUUS Foundation

Hailey Nicholson with Cornet

Hailey Nicholson started volunteering at Ridin’ High Inc. in 2019. “The bond between a horse and a human is one of the strongest I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing,” said Nicholson. “I personally have felt the huge impact that volunteering with this program has had on my life, and seen the positive impact it has had on others. I have been able to witness and help children blossom into their own person and seen individuals gain so much strength after illness or accidents have taken hold.” The first time she walked into Ridin’ High, she knew it was where she was meant to be. She continued, “There is nothing like what I have been able to be a part of anywhere else and I am so proud to be a part of it!”

John Snyder
The Equus Effect
Sharon, Connecticut

EQUUS Foundation

John Snyder with Tango

“My love of cooking has blended well with the work I perform at The Equus Effect in Sharon Connecticut as I prepare luncheons for the participants and staff during our workshops. I’m honored to work with the Veterans, First Responders, Gold and Blue Star Mothers in this incredibly important work,”, said John Snyder.

A retired New York Businessman now residing in Northwest Connecticut, he is an avid gardener, bee keeper, fisherman and wildlife observer. He continued, “It’s important for us all to give back in whatever capacity we can, especially to those that have sacrificed so much for us all.”

Bretten Winkelman
Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue, Inc.
Afton, Virginia

EQUUS Foundation

Bretten Winkelman with Shadow

A journeyman carpenter from Fairbanks, Alaska, Bretten Winkelman and his wife, Colleen, moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, for her graduate studies three years ago. “I’ve been around horses and involved with their care since meeting my wife 10 years ago,” said Winkelman. Looking for something to do for our community together, we decided to check out volunteer opportunities and found Hope’s Legacy last year. Winkelman finds relaxation and peace at the rescue, and can easily spend all Saturday there helping to build shelters and fencing, and then feeding the horses. He continued, “I’m happy to be able to use my skills as a carpenter and give my time as a volunteer to help Hope’s Legacy in their mission.

The EQUUS Foundation also awarded a $1,000 Champion of Equine Service Academic Scholarship to Hailey Ingram for her volunteer service in 2021 at the Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont Circle C Equestrian Center in Sophia, North Carolina.

EQUUS Foundation
Hailey Ingram with Rio

Now 19, Hailey Ingram started volunteering as a Riding Instructor In Training (RIIT) at Circle C Equestrian Center when she was in the seventh grade. “I had a love for horses and wanted to introduce as many kids as I could to the incredible sport,” said Ingram. Over the years, Hailey moved from basic barn duties into mentoring and supervising younger volunteers as they performed their duties as well as taking on more teaching duties, helping riders who needed individual attention.

Her supervisor, Catherine Thacker, has only praise for Hailey. “She has assisted countless numbers of girls during their first ride, making them feel safe and ensuring they have a positive horse experience. She sets a very good example and a high bar. She embodies the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.”

“My volunteer experience with horses has been nothing short of amazing – and horses have also been my escape. They cheer me up when I am upset, and they don’t judge,” said Ingram, who looks forward to riding horses in college and plans to join an intercollegiate riding team. “Everyone has their thing, some play soccer, some sing, some are in musicals, and some are artsy, but mine has and always will be with horses.”

Learn more about Champions here

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