EQUUS Foundation


EQUUS Foundation Announces Winners of 2014 Champions Scholarships sponsored by Ariat International

WESTPORT, CT - May 12, 2014 - The EQUUS Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its Champions Equine Service Scholarships made possible by the generosity of Ariat International. Over $11,000 in scholarships were awarded to thirteen individuals to reward their volunteer service in 2013.

"We were so impressed with the applicants this year - all deserved to win a scholarship. It's amazing that they are able to balance all the demands of their lives and still find the time to make the world a better place for horses and the people who benefit from them," said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President. The thirteen individuals logged in more than 1,800 hours in support of organizations on the Foundation's Equine Welfare Network. Although the scholarships are awarded for volunteerism, the recipients are also dedicated to academic excellence - achieving an average GPA of 3.8.

Six academic scholarships, including one $1,000 scholarship reserved for members of the United States Pony Clubs (USPC), and $1,500 for members of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) were awarded to Alicia Hoffman, Taylor Masters (USEF Recipient), Amelia Rogus-McElwee, Alissa Scinto, Claire Siebols (USPC recipient) and Elizabeth Willet.

Shelby Cashman and Frances Garrett each received a $1,000 scholarship reserved for Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) members to advance their equestrian and/or academic education. Hallie Austin, Tessa James, Brianna Lineberry and Julianne Weiss each received a $500 scholarship reserved for Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) members to advance their equestrian and/or academic education.

New this year, the EQUUS Foundation awarded a scholarship to Katie Jacobson to cover the registration fee for Ms. Jacobson to become a PATH Intl. Registered Level Certified Instructor.

There is alot of information below about these amazing individuals but it is worth the read!

Jacobson with Jameson
Katie Jacobson
Bozeman, Montana
Many children are captured by the spirit of the horse – and so too was Katie Jacobson, but the idea that horses would be a part of her life didn't seem likely growing up in the suburbs.

The unlikely became possible when she started taking lessons at an Arabian barn outside of town.

The Arabians captivated her. A lot of riding, bathing, grooming, tack cleaning, feeding, bandaging, fence fixing, stall mucking and horse shows followed.

When she was 16, she volunteered to spend one day at the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, Oregon where she was introduced to equine therapy. The fire was lit – and she knew then that she wanted to work with people and horses for the rest of her life.

In the years that followed, Jacobson continued to volunteer and is now the Equestrian Volunteer Coordinator for Eagle Mount Bozeman Therapeutic Recreation Center. As soon as Jacobson got word that she won the scholarship, she enrolled in the workshop that will enable her to complete her PATH Instructor Certification Training.

"It is amazing how just one day has led me to a lifetime of serving people with horses; this is my passion! I absolutely cannot imagine what my life would look like without these volunteer experiences. They have shaped how I view horses and allowed me to put aside my initial self-focused relationship with my own horses. I see now how my love for horses can be shared with others and how their interactions with horses can change their lives forever."


Hoffman with Lizzie
Alicia Hoffman
Pawtucket, RI
Alicia Hoffman will be a senior at the University of Connecticut in the fall, majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Psychology, and is already preparing for graduate school to earn a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy. Hoffman has been volunteering for Greenlock Therapeutic Riding Center for over eight years.

"My experiences with the children and the horses has changed my life and is the reason why I am pursuing a career working with children with disabilities," said Hoffman.

"I fell in love with horses at a young age. I read every book with a horse in it that I could find, crying my way through Black Beauty and imagining myself as a member of the Saddle Club."

Hoffman said her personal experiences with horses helped her break out of her shell and be more confident, but it was the therapy horses at Greenlock that have taught her how to interact with animals and humans. She learned from Toby, one of the therapy horses, who knows what pace to walk at for each rider, that everybody, has a pace at which they are comfortable.

After years of riding, Hoffman had the opportunity to rescue an incredible mare, Lizzie. "Lizzie, along with the horses I work with at Greenlock have enriched my life every day."


Taylor Masters
Dunedin, FL
Taylor Masters is a 16-year-old high school junior with a 4.62 GPA. A USEF/USHJA member since kindergarten, Taylor is an accomplished equestrian. Three years ago, Masters signed up to complete fifty hours of volunteer service at Quantum Leap Farm.

Hundreds of hours later, Masters has learned how to provide the highest standard of equine care and to witness the undeniable, inexplicable bond between therapy horses and the humans who depend on them.

"It is impossible to have a bad day after spending time with severely challenged individuals who smile, simply because they shared time with a horse and to see them trust a horse with their life."

"I see families beam with love because a child who will not speak to people, finally talks to a pony. I watch disabled veterans gaze into the eye of a horse, communicating on a silent wavelength, while healing pain I cannot begin to imagine. I have learned to see people through the eyes of a horse, by looking for abilities rather than dis-abilities in myself and in others."

"I am continuously amazed with the behavior of horses who become kinder and gentler in the presence of people receiving therapy. Horses, who offer a snarly attitude when I buckle their blanket, will be quiet, calm and nuzzle a child who cannot use his legs. A horse, who is frisky in the paddock, will take extra slow steps when a woman who cannot use her arms rides on his back. A horse, who dislikes extra grooming, will lower his head so an autistic child can excessively rub his forelock. The compassion I see in therapy horses is not something that has been taught. It is a spontaneous, organic behavior within each horse, as if these horses know how to help people heal."

It has become Masters' life goal to become a veterinarian, specializing in equine ophthalmology. "I am grateful for the horses in my life, and while I am sure I will never be Beezie Madden, I am certain I will be Taylor Masters, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine."


Rogus-McElwee with Ebs
Amelia Rogus-McElwee
Jamison, PA
Amelia Rogus-McElwee will be entering Pennsylvania State University in the fall. Ever since she was a little girl, she was fascinated with horses and thought they were the most beautiful animals on the planet. She started riding at the very young age of three.

When she became more experienced with horses, she became a Counselor In Training at a local barn and helped out with taking care of the horses, including feeding, watering, bathing and grooming the horses as well as cleaning stalls. Later on, the demands of balancing school and family obligations required her to stop riding and taking care of the horses.

Not only did volunteering at Special Equestrians fill a void in her life, it also also influenced her future and she is certain that she wants to become a large animal veterinarian. Volunteering taught her about the true beauty of horses. "I've learned so many things about the human spirit and a horse's healing power. They offer such an invaluable therapy to everyone, especially disabled children. I love how horses help these children to become more social with other people and more comfortable with new activities or people. I love how horses help physically disabled children become more physically able in their daily lives. And I love how horses have given me the opportunity to learn about children with autism and help them to grow.


Alissa Scinto
Shelton, CT
Alissa Scinto will entering the University of New Hampshire in the fall of 2014 as a freshman. She intends to major in Animal Science and pursue her dream of becoming an equine veterinarian. She started riding at the age of seven, competed at the local level, and now works four days a week at a horse stable taking care of horses.

Scinto needed community service hours for high school, and after some time searching the web, she found Animal Assisted Therapy Services (AaTs), a non-profit organization that uses animal assisted therapy to promote lifelong health and wellness to individuals with physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional disabilities.

Scinto volunteered every Wednesday for three hours and every Saturday morning for four hours as a horse leader and side walker in the equine classes for young children. A horse leader grooms, tacks, and warms up the horse before the class begins. The horse leader guides the horse around the arena during the class, while keeping the safety of the horse and rider in mind. A side walker assists the child in performing a variety of activities that deal with basic riding skills which enables cognitive and social skill development. In September of 2013, she was promoted to Barn Captain and now oversees the other horse leader volunteers and any barn activities

"I have seen firsthand the profound impact horses have on the lives of people, whether able or disabled, from a simple smile to making bridges in the mind that were not previously there," said Scinto. "One child who is severely limited in his verbal communications now uses two verbal commands as a result of this program. Another child, after a couple months in the program, went from not being able to hold the two-point position for ten seconds to being able to hold it for two whole laps around the ring. Seeing these children succeed and improve motivates me to keep doing all I can to improve the lives of others, especially those who have disabilities." Scinto's life-long passion is to continue making a positive impact with horses.


Siebols with Mikey
Claire Siebols
Boxford, MA
Claire Siebols is a sophomore at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and hopes to pursue a career in animal abuse investigation and as an animal rights advocate. An active United States Pony Clubs (USPC) member with a C2/HB certification, Claire is attempting her C3 Traditional certification this summer on her seven year old "Off the track Thoroughbred" (OTTB) named My Kinda Girl.

She started riding at the age of seven and not long after, she was introducted to her first horse – actually a two-year old, "green", Appaloosa pony that her mother saved from being sold at an auction. Her experience with green horses has helped her in her volunteer work at the horse rescue.

"Everyone is known for something in high school, such as 'the pretty one, the class clown, the troublemaker, the geek'. I was known as 'that horse girl'. Volunteering at New England Equine Rescue - North Inc. (NEER) opened my eyes to all kinds of abuse, neglect, and ignorance towards innocent animals."

The most heart wrenching experience while at NEER North was the rescue of Eagle, an 18 year old OTTB, who was found tied to a post with no food or water. Eagle was just skin and bones with rain rot, painful, almost crippling "scratches" and a fungal infection, on his legs. His pasterns were so red and irritated that they were oozing and bleeding. "We gave him some decent hay and water and let him settle in for a day or so and then we got to work on cleaning and disinfecting his wounds every day. The fur never grew back on his pasterns but he was no longer in pain." After a month or so, Eagle had gained enough weight to be able to put tack on him, using a bitless bridle to protect his mouth.

"I had such a feeling of satisfaction and pride when I climbed on this gentle giant. A month before this horse could barely walk comfortably and now here he was, happy as a clam and letting me ride him around the ring." Everything came full circle for Siebols at that moment and she knew that she couldn't imagine her life without horses.


Willet with Cody
Elizabeth Willet
Lawrenceville, GA
Elizabeth Willet will be attending the University of North Georgia Gainesville in the fall as a freshman. She started riding at five, and "thus began my joyous, personal relationship with these complex, but loving friends; an essential relationship that has only grown deeper and stronger with each passing year," said Willet.

"I was hooked from the first day I started volunteering. I thought that therapeutic riding only benefited the participants; however, I now realize that I was also being shaped and impacted by these horses."

Elizabeth volunteered for two organizations, Parkwood Farms Therapy Center, and Stride Ahead, Inc., performing many duties including horse leader, sidewalker, and as a mentor to other young volunteers.

"She helps teach new people how to groom and care for our horses, how things are done before, during, and after regular sessions. Her knowledge of horses helps keeps the horses well behaved and safe for our riders and programs," said Dr. Marilyn K. Peterson of Parkwood.

"When Elizabeth is at the barn, life gets better for the instructors because of the quality of her work ethic and high standards and passion for doing the work well. Life gets better for the students because of her attention to the nuances of what each individual student needs to reach their goals. Life gets better for the horses because Elizabeth is clearly devoted to their well-being," said Ann Preston of Stride Ahead.

"Willet is on her way to becoming a PATH Certified instructor. It is our privilege of having her do her practice teaching hours with our students." Willet endeavors to give every client a joyful greeting and a smile. "I want them to know how happy I am to see them, and that I'm looking forward to helping them to achieve their goals."


Shelby Cashman
Highland Falls, NY
Shelby Cashman is a sophomore at Centenary College pursuing a degree in equine studies and political and governmental affairs. Cashman is Captain of both the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) English and Western teams at Centenary.

Cashman's goal is to pursue a career in the equestrian sport as a trainer, judge, show manager, and rider so, in addition to the hours she volunteers as the team's leader, she volunteers additional hours working for the national IHSA organization serving as a regional assistant. She helps to do points, run meetings, and provide all around help to make the region run better.

Volunteering has proven to Cashman that hard work pays off in the end, whether through just getting to see it all come together, or by opening doors to my future. "I hope that my experiences in the past and future help me to make a difference in the industry that I love so much and to be able to give back to the next generations, as generations before me have done."


Frances Garrett
Pine Village, IN
Frances Louise Garrett is a sophomore in the school of Equine Studies at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) in Terra Haute, Indiana. An SMWC Honors student with a 3.76 GPA, she competes on the college's IHSA English and Western Equestrian Teams.

She also completed over 250 volunteer hours during the summer of 2013 working at Therapion Therapeutic Riding Center and with the Indiana Special Olympics Equine Program working with disabled riders. Frances also worked over 200 hours as the Purdue Extension Benton County Youth Intern working with 4-H youth programs.

Garrett grew up around horses and was given a shetland pony for her third birthday. As the years passed, her hands-on experience with horses taught her how to manage a small scale horse operation and the basics of riding.

In high school, she took on took on younger students as a mentor and helped to pass on the knowledge she had learned. But, just before her junior year of high school, she became the victim of harsh teenage bullying.

She learned later on from her volunteer experience that horses offered the children she worked with an escape from their harsh reality and their problems, as it did for her, and that horses healed them, as she had been healed. Garrett plans to obtain her PATH certification and use her college degree to open an Equine Assisted Therapy Center. She learned the power of equine healing through her volunteer experience, and wants to use her education to rehabilitate rescue horses and re-train them as therapy horses for people with special needs.


Hallie Ruth Austin
High Point, NC
Hallie Ruth Austin will be entering the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in the fall as a freshman. A member of the National Honor Society with a 4.203 GPA, academic excellence is clearly a priority for Austin, but she is also a USEF High School Equestrian Athlete and member of the North Carolina Hunter Jumper Association, and has participated on the Fox Run Equestrian Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) team since 2011.

That same year, Austin began volunteering at HORSEPOWER Therapeutic Riding Center. "Horses taught me so many life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life," said Austin, "especially determination. If you fall off, you have to pick yourself up, dust off the dirt, and get back on." They taught her confidence, that competition was not just about winning, it was about making and achieving personal goals.

Austin devoted her required Senior Project to how the horses and volunteers are trained – so impressed with how these horses can be so desensitized to actions like noise and rapid movements but also so sensitive to fragility of their riders and to their riders' special needs. "Before I started volunteering, I had a strong appreciation for horses and what they do for the mind, body and soul. After volunteering, I gained a new level of that same appreciation." She learned how much horses impacted the lives of the children with special needs. These special children don't give up despite their disabilities – and horses help them.


Tessa James
Sudbury, MA
Tessa James is a high school senior and captain of the IEA Concord Equestrian Team at Verrill Farm Stable, where she has ridden for seven years. James recalled, "I think my parents were hoping that horses were just a phase. Sure soccer is fun, but in riding, I got to partner with an amazing animal, who could easily hurt me, but instead trusted me and taught me. I love competing, but honestly some of my favorite moments are barn sleepovers with my teammates, or trail rides in the summer. I love just being at the barn, and being around the horses."

Two years ago, James discovered a way to use her passion for horses to help others and started volunteering at Lovelane Therapeutic Riding Center.

For all of the differences between the Lovelane students and James, James learned that there are a million more ways in which they are similar. Knowing that she could and did make even a small difference in the lives of the Lovelane students, who have more obstacles to overcome than many of us can comprehend and knowing that the horses are making a huge difference in helping the students become physically and cognitively stronger, taught her to appreciate what she has, and understand a little better why giving back to the community is so important.

"I love being a part of this program because it's a way for me to channel my passion into a meaningful act of community service. . I cannot imagine what my life would be like without horses and I know that I would not be the person I am today."


Lineberry with Lunar Eczips
Brianna Lineberry
Ooltewah, TN
Brianna Lineberry is a high school freshman who rides on the IEA Ocoee Equestrian Western High School team. She and her horse, Lunar Eczips, a 16 year old Arabian-Quarter Horse, also compete in the Tennessee 4H Circuit and ACTHA throughout the year in addition to IEA shows.

Lineberry started volunteering for Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center three years ago – when she was just 13 years old. She has performed many duties as a volunteer, including being a leader and sidewalker in addition to barn chores. "Tri-State has changed my life so much. I am so glad to call myself an equestrian because I don't really know where I would be if horses were not in my life," said Lineberry.

"Brianna's willing heart for service is contagious to other volunteers and she is always open to teaching or helping those who may need an extra hand," said Denise Wright of Tri-State. She mentors many of the riders. She is very active in their lives both inside and outside of the program." Lineberry even accompanied one of the therapeutic riders to a special needs prom last year.

"Each time I go to Tri-State, I learn something new. I hope that one day I will get certified to be an instructor – and also a coach for an equestrian team. No matter what happens I hope I will always be there to volunteer."


Julianne Weiss
Boca Raton, FL
Julianne Weiss is a high school junior and USEF High School Equestrian Athlete. She started riding at six years old at where she learned not just how to ride but also horse care by joining the 4-H Club.

"I still think of that first riding lesson over ten years ago, and I will always remember it as the day that horses changed my life."

At 13, Weiss joined the IEA Millpond Equestrian Team at Millpond Farm and has been the team captain for the past two years. She also started a 4-H Club there and is planning to run for the Florida State 4-H treasurer next year.

Weiss has logged over a 1,000 service hours since she began volunteering in 7th grade when she visited Personal Ponies, a program where her autistic brother interacted with miniature horses. Seeing the impact on her brother encouraged her to volunteer by going on outings with the ponies to child care facilities and nursing homes.

Weiss discovered the South Florida SPCA large animal rescue through her 4-H Club. It was a rude awakening for Weiss on the cruelties that many animals suffer, but she channeled the shock by helping to recuperate the innocent, gentle frightened horses, cows, and other farm animals that seemed to always be coming in. Weiss helped rehabilitate an ex-police horse and after watching him gain 500 lbs, her family became his foster home until a permanent home could be found for him.

Weiss started volunteering for Equine Assisted Therapies of South Florida (formerly Horses and the Handicapped) as a summer camp counselor, then continued volunteering in the fall as a horse handler each week. Samantha a 4th grader, who, despite her disabilities, flourished because of her interaction with horses, was just one example why Weiss said, "Volunteering with horses is something I hope to always be able to do no matter where my life takes me. I learned that anyone who has the passion can make a difference."


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.