February 9, 2018
Contact: Lynn Coakley
mail@equusfoundation.org | 203-259-1550

Jolene - One of Many Cared For by Ariat Champions While Waiting for Forever Homes

"Jolene is just one of many that we care for and love until we can find them a forever home," said Deb Bott, of the mammoth mule who was rescued from the kill pen by Begin Again Rescue where Bott volunteers.

Bott, along with Richard Fincher, Tammy Kempton, Betsy O'Brochta, and Taylor Santosuosso are being honored by Ariat International for their volunteer service on behalf of horse welfare. Each will receive a pair of Ariat boots. Ariat sponsors the EQUUS Foundation's Champions program which is dedicated to inspiring and rewarding equine service.

Deb Bott with Jolene
Soon to be 60 years old with a lifelong passion for horses, it wasn't until Deb Bott was introduced to Begin Again Horse Rescue (BAHR) four years ago by another dedicated volunteer that Bott was able to fulfill her dream.

"The hours Deb volunteers doesn't begin to tell how much she actually gives of herself to BAHR to help at-risk horses in so many different ways. We are thrilled to have her efforts acknowledged by the EQUUS Foundation," said Harriett Rubins, BAHR Executive Director/President.

After attending classes that BAHR offered and volunteering alongside others trained by BAHR, Deb now spends almost every Saturday morning at BAHR caring for the horses and helping new volunteers.

"The experience of working with rescues like Jolene who has overcome many obstacles after being rescued from the kill pen, and is as sweet as they come," said Bott, "has given me the courage to take riding lessons and fulfill my dream of owning my own horse partner."

Richard Fincher with Rocky (left) and Chief (right)
Richard Fincher is a first responder for the fire department, where he is also credited with setting up an emergency rescue unit for large animal rescue that can respond to natural disasters like flooding and fire.

Fincher also teaches equine care and rescue at several high schools in the area.

Fincher has been involved with horses all of his life and, since 2006, has been the Executive Director of Safe Haven Equine Rescue & Retirement Home, an all-volunteer charity devoted to rescuing abused, neglected or distressed horses, restoring them to optimal health, and then finding them loving homes.

For those who are not able to be adopted, Safe Haven provides a home where they can live out the rest of their lives with dignity.

In addition to these efforts, each year Safe Haven makes hospital visits with their mascot, Rescue. "These visits are some of the most humbling experiences we face," said Fincher. "Most of the kids have never seen a horse, some are in wheelchairs, others are in portable beds. No matter the struggles they face - whether it's their first time or the hundredth time - their eyes light up when they see our gentle giant, Rescue, come around the corner."

Tammy Kempton with Hope
Tammy Kempton has been volunteering at Strides Therapeutic Horsemanship Center as a horse leader for almost a year.

Kempton first became involved when her son volunteered to build a sensory trail for Strides for his Boy Scout Eagle project. Sensory trail rides consisting of natural and man-made elements and activities including music and touch stations help stimulate the senses of special needs students and encourage them to interact with the world around them.

As a Girl Scout troop leader for the past nine years and active in her son's Boy Scout troop, Kempton decided to volunteer for the opportunity to serve alongside her children.

Unexpectedly, Kempton said, "I fell in love with horses. Both of my teenagers have spent many hours volunteering with me. It has been wonderful to spend time with them and to see them take on responsibility and enjoy what they are doing. I learn something new each time I volunteer at Strides."

Betsy O'Brochta
Willow Ridge Therapeutic Riding Facility
Plain City, OH
Betsy O'Brochta with Rosie
"Rosie is a mare after my own heart - a tad bit stubborn, but with a heart of gold," said Betsy O'Brochta. A registered American Quarter horse, Rosie is just one of the Willow Ridge horses that help teach skills to bolster the confidence and self-discipline of youth who have physical or emotional special needs.

O'Brochta's background in education and her lifelong love and involvement with horses and children led her to volunteer her skills at Willow Ridge Therapeutic Riding Facility, where she also serves as a director on the board.

A graduate of the Ohio State University with a degree in elementary education, and now retired, O'Brochta taught in Central Ohio for 34 years and is the mother of three grown children.

Taylor Santosuosso
New England Equine Rescue - North Inc.
West Newbury, MA
Taylor Santosuosso with Sky
In August of 2017, Taylor Santosuosso was scrolling through her Facebook timeline when a before-and-after photo of a bay Thoroughbred rescued by New England Equine Rescue - North Inc. (NEER North) caught her eye.

Santosuosso, who already owned two horses - a Quarter Horse mare named Muffin and a Thoroughbred gelding named Andy, had always wanted to adopt a rescue. She clicked to read more, and immediately decided to volunteer.

"I am responsible for feeding and mucking stalls on the weekends," said Santosuosso. "I have also been given the amazing opportunity to ride and work with many of the rescues that come through. Sky, a Standardbred gelding was the first horse I worked with. An ex-harness racer racing under the name Skyway B., he loves to be ridden in fields and on trails."

In addition to volunteering at NEER, during the summer, Santosuosso actively competes in dressage, jumpers, and eventing. She will be attending college next year and plans to compete on a collegiate level.

Learn more about Champions here

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 100% dedicated to protecting America's horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. 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.
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