EQUUS Foundation


Equine Volunteers Rise Above Winter and Inclement Weather

WESTPORT, CT - April 15, 2014 - Cited as the worst winter in years, it is not surprising that most people had a hard time coping with this winter's "blues", but equine service volunteers are not "most people".

Over 200 volunteers participated in the Foundation's Champions Equine Service Program, made possible by Ariat International, during the harrowing past few months and logged over 6,000 service hours. Five were randomly selected to receive $250 gift certificates for Ariat boots in honor of their volunteer service in the first quarter of 2014.

Shepherd with Angel
Amy Shepherd
Hidden Springs Horse Rescue
Marianna, Florida
Meet Amy Shepherd, a mother of two energetic boys and multiple furry children...dogs, cats, rabbits and horses. She has been involved in animal rescue for as long as she can remember, but after high school, her horse time became limited.

It was her mother's sudden death from pancreatic cancer in March 2013 that made her seek out horses. She found Melanie Higdon at Hidden Springs Horse Rescue, and since then, she has spent countless hours with the horses there. She said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that does something for the inside of a woman."

Amy recalled her first rescue when she was seven years old. "It was a stuffed animal in her neighbor's backyard! I felt so sorry for it in the rain, I climbed their fence to 'rescue' it." From that point on, rescue was in her blood. Not long after she grew very concerned about a pony down the road. The owner said he would sell it to her for $100. She gathered up her toys and sold them to neighborhood children until she raised exactly $100. "I'll never forget the look on my mom's face when I rang the doorbell with a Shetland pony in tow...and we didn't even have a fenced yard! Looking back I realize how blessed I was. My mom got on the phone and started calling boarding stables. It wasn't long before my family built a new house on some land. My pony came home along with six more rescues."


Bixler with Gideon
Barbara Bixler
Children's TherAplay Foundation
Carmel, Indiana
"Horses have been part of my life since I was a young child. I spent countless hours every week caring for, grooming, riding and competing on my horse. I discovered Children's TherAplay in 2002 when my only child was about to graduate from high school. Volunteering allows me to be around horses again and also help children. Children's TherAplay continues to do more for me than I can ever do for them."


Delia with Sonny
Kerry Delia
Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue
Millbrook, New York
Kerry Delia helps out wherever she can at Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue. She's not able to do much physical work because of a disability, but she says, "I'm the feed tag counting gal! Nutrena gives cash back for each proof of purchase tag turned in!" She also helps with administrative duties and "looking after the kids".

She may not be able to muck out a stall, but when a horse is having a bad day or suffering from any injury, she offers the horses Reiki, the Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.

"I am very proud to be one of the volunteers."


Fuller with Ruckus
Mark Fuller
Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center
Windham, Maine
"I'm absolutely stunned," was the response of Mark Fuller on learning he won a prize for volunteering. "I've been trying to save my money to buy a pair of badly needed boots. And, the only ones I want are, in fact, ARIAT!!! I am truly thrilled."

But Mark said that the real reward has been his experiences at Riding To The Top which enriches his love for horses by helping special-needs children and adults. He hopes many more volunteers will be inspired by the Champions program to document their efforts and be recognized.


Koger with Cherokee
A 19 year old spotted saddlebred with COPD
Donna Koger
S.T.A.R. Ranch
Waynesville, North Carolina
Donna Koger volunteers her business skills at S.T.A.R. Ranch. She's a technical writer and web designer for two local small businesses, formerly serving as Project Manager and Blackboard Administrator for the University of New Orleans and Western Carolina University. She said, "I am proud to be the rescue's webmaster and to have the opportunity to help horses so desperately in need of care." Volunteering also satisfies her passion for helping small businesses and non-profit organizations build a web presence.


CHAMPIONS is the EQUUS Foundation's incentive-based equine service volunteer program sponsored by Ariat International to recognize and reward individuals and organizations on the Equine Welfare Network.

It's easy to become a CHAMPION, an individual must log a minimum of 24 volunteer hours from January 1st to December 31st. The volunteer hours will be verified by the organization and the EQUUS Foundation.


About EQUUS Foundation: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of horses, enabling the therapeutic use of horses for those in need, fostering the horse-human bond, and educating the public about the horse's unique ability to empower, teach and heal. 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: mail@equusfoundation.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.