The EQUUS Foundation is the only national animal welfare in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America's horses and strengthening the bond between horses and people.
At the core of our mission is safeguarding the comfort and dignity of America's horses throughout their lives and sharing their ability to empower, teach and heal with as many people as possible. We are committed to ensuring that horses involved in any role and in any capacity - as athletes, companions, teachers and healers - are safe, protected, and treated with dignity as partners.
With 84% of the US population living in cities of 50,000 or more, public involvement with horses, especially among young people, is waning, and the expense and time required for competition is unrealistic for most people.
We believe that an updated human-horse model, based on different collaborative relationships between horses and humans, offers boundless opportunities for horses to contribute positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of all people - with and without special needs. Right now, there are over 48 million people with disabilities in the US, but only 7,900 horses across the United States are benefiting only 66,000 people with special needs.
In addition to increasing adoptions of at-risk and transitioning horses and providing a safe haven for aged horses, we are strong proponents of increasing opportunities for all people to engage and partner with horses in new innovative ways to help ensure that horses naturally transition from one chapter to the next without risk of abuse, neglect and slaughter.
With the advent of the internet and social media, unfortunately, it is too easy to be misinformed and misled. It is more important now than ever before that donor dollars are directed to equine charities are fully transparent and operating at the highest standards for horse care.
We focus on our efforts on:
•EMPOWERING equine charities to operate at the highest standards for horse care and
service and be fully transparent by providing financial support, recognition, guidance,
•INSPIRING horse lovers to become horse protectors by stimulating advocacy and volunteerism;
•EDUCATING the public on the value of horses in our lives by sharing stories of their
amazing achievements and contributions.
All horses, even champions of the racetrack and the show ring, are only one unlucky sale away from abuse, neglect and slaughter.
65,009 of America's horses were transported over the border for slaughter last year. Most were young, healthy, and had untapped potential. None deserved this inhumane end of life.
America's horses need homes where they can flourish as athletes, companions, teachers, and especially healers.
Horses thrill us as athletes, grace our lives as companions, instill confidence and teamwork in equestrians of all ages and perform miracles for people with special needs.
Horses can dramatically improve the lives of people with special needs and allow them to live life as productively and independently as possible, yet equine activities and therapies are only available to a small percentage of people with special needs.
The EQUUS Foundation is committed to raising awareness among horse owners of the many opportunities available for horses after their competitive careers are over.
Horses are powerful teachers and healers — positively influencing not just our happiness but also our health.
Too many horses in this country need a life-line and opportunities to thrive.
We envision an America where:
• Horses are valued not only as athletes, but also
as teachers, companions, and healers;
• Horses transition from one chapter to the next without
risk of abuse, neglect and slaughter;
• Horses live in comfort and with dignity throughout their
• When the times comes, horses experience a peaceful
and humane end of life.
The EQUUS Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors representing a cross-section of the equestrian community, including supporters, participants, and professionals.
Jenny Belknap Kees
William R. Harris, Jr.
Richard Mitchell, DVM
When her youngest daughter headed off to college, it also came time for the horses, who were dearly loved by EQUUS Foundation Founder, Lynn Coakley and her family, to transition to their next chapters.
While Coakley was fortunate to be able to provide their horses with a comfortable and safe environment where they could enjoy the remainder of their lives, in the process of exploring the options, she learned that many horses in transition find themselves at risk for abuse and neglect because their owners can no longer care for them.
What was most disturbing to learn is that thousands of horses are shipped over the border for slaughter each year. Between 1980 and 2007, 443,586 horses were slaughtered in the United States. Between 2001 and 2019, over $2 million horses have been shipped across our borders for slaughter -- most were young, healthy and had untapped potential. Horse owners often bring their horses to local livestock auctions with the expectation that the horse will find a good home – unaware that middlemen who represent or sell to horse slaughter plants— called kill buyers—frequent these auctions.
This eye-opening milestone inspired Coakley to establish the EQUUS Foundation in 2002 to provide financial support to a handful of equine charities in Connecticut and New York. The initial board members were all horse lovers, most with children who benefited from what we believe are the unique abilities of horses to empower, teach and heal.
The first grants were awarded in August 2003 to seven locally based charities from donations raised in association with the 2003 Fairfield County Hunt Club June Benefit Horse Show in Westport, Connecticut.
Over the years, more and more equine charities across the United States approached us for funding. By 2008, we had awarded over $1 million in grants to deserving equine charities.
In 2008, the EQUUS Foundation transitioned from being all-volunteer to appointing the founder, Lynn Coakley, to the staff position of President. EQUUS Foundation has no employees. The EQUUS Foundation elected to utilize contract-based management vs. an employee-based management because it was an available option and simplified the operations of the Foundation. Since then, the EQUUS Foundation has contracted with additional service providers. Currently, Valerie Angeli serves as Vice President for Engagement and Carrie Hull serves as Vice President for Planning and Philanthropy.