A Picture is Worth a Million Words: The Joy of Horses & Giving Back
Thanks to Ariat International, Madeline Duvall, Ashley Green, Sarah Lloyd, Lydia Savitt and Lily Stidham will each receive an EQUUS Foundation $1,000 Champion of Equine Service Academic Scholarship to assist with the pursuit of undergraduate studies in appreciation of their volunteer service on behalf of horse welfare.
Alexa McVoy will receive the $1,000 Champion of Equine Service Academic Scholarship specifically reserved for individuals affiliated with US Equestrian (USEF, Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), and/or the United States Pony Clubs (USPC).
Lyndee Buttery will receive a Champion of Equine Service Certification Scholarship to assist prospective instructors with the cost of obtaining the PATH International Registered Level Instructor Certification. Ethan Carver will also receive a Champion of Equine Service Certification Scholarship made possible through a grant from Lessons in TR.
Ariat sponsors the EQUUS Foundation's Champions program which is dedicated to inspiring and rewarding equine service.
Alexa McVoy with Val D' Amour (Bolo)
Champion of Equine Service Academic Scholarship
Out Side In, Inc.
Grand Haven MI
The majority of every summer since Alexa McVoy was two has been spent at the barn. Now a high school senior, McVoy said, "I will always treasure the days when I smell of hay rather than sunscreen and have dirt wedged underneath my fingernails rather than sand."
Unlike most teenagers, McVoy spends weekdays feeding horses, cleaning stalls, and volunteering at Out Side In - which uses rescued thoroughbred racehorses to help people who have suffered from trauma. This allows McVoy to reserve her weekends for competition in Arabian Western Pleasure as well as jumping in 3'6" equitation classes. Since she started riding, she has won multiple national titles.
"Alexa trains all of our OTTB's and shows them to potential adopters when they come to meet one of our horses," said McVoy's supervisor, Lizzy Sperry. "She also assists in the programming and facilitation of our summer camp."
The day the head therapist introduced McVoy to an adorable little-pigtailed girl in sparkly, pink cowboy boots with a dream to ride is a day that will never fade from her memory. McVoy chose Johnny to be her trusty steed. Not knowing that this innocent child had gone through horrors no one should experience, McVoy explained to the little girl that although this horse had been terribly abused in his life and was on his way to the slaughterhouse before he was rescued, he was the sweetest horse on the farm.
As the girl hopped aboard Johnny's grey back, Johnny whinnied as if he too could sense the girl's joy. As McVoy began leading her around the arena, the little girl said, "I love Johnny, he is so brave. He has had a really scary life kind of like mine but now look how happy he is." McVoy said, "I learned that those with the most courage are often the quiet voices who believe that tomorrow can be a better day."
"From my grandmother to my mother, to myself, horses have been the passion of all of the amazing women in my life. Now I am the next generation and it is my turn to pass down these lessons and teach those after me how to get back on after they fall. My life with horses has become my identity and my legacy, and I would not change that for the world."
Lyndee Buttery with ManeGait's Houston
From an early age, horses have played a formative role in Lyndee Buttery's life. "The generosity of others enabled me to have a simple equine experience, yet a rich one," said Buttery. Starting at nine, Buttery exchanged barn chores at local stables for riding time.
At thirteen, her parents bought her first and only horse - made possible only because some family friends generously offered her free board at their farm. She trained her little Arabian/Quarter Horse mare to barrel race, endurance race, jump, basic dressage, mounted games, and a few random tricks. "We mastered nothing, but had a grand time trying lots of things."
"I consider the day my horse became mine and the day she passed away to be significant bookends to a 14-year chapter of my life that were formative, enriched, and clearly marked by the influence of a horse and farm life," continued Buttery. With her horse's death, Buttery began a long hiatus from horses pursuing a career in Social Work.
Buttery currently lives nearby ManeGait with her husband, Aaron, and children, Isaac and Grace. After waiting many years, volunteering at ManeGait allowed her to merge her love of horses and social work. "It is miraculous to see progress and transformation occur right in front of you and to witness the joy another experiences in their own achievements. My experience with the riders and horses of ManeGait have brought me joy and a new motivation to this season of my life. Becoming a certified therapeutic riding instructor will allow me to take this experience to an even higher level."
Ethan Carver with Strides' Gypsy Vanner Onyx
I'm not your typical horse-person, I didn't grow up riding. I didn't get my first horse at a young age - in fact, I've never had my own horse," said Ethan Carver. "I learned to ride in high school by a friend who was all too happy to have me help her with barn chores."
This experience with horses led to Carver majoring in animal behavior and pursuing various internships and jobs all centered around animals, but, he added, "There was something missing. I missed the interactions with the horses."
When Carver found out about volunteer opportunities at Strides, he dove in head first volunteering in any way he could. "I quickly realized that what I loved most was connecting with our clients and seeing how interactions with our herd of horses could help improve their lives. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to become a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI)."
Once he is certified, Carver intends to seek the PATH Intl. mentor status to help potential instructors attain their certification and he wants to attain certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning so that people with various mental health disorders can benefit from equine assisted psychotherapy. "I love that I now am at a point in my life where I can be involved in an organization that provides that same experience to people, who, for various reasons, would otherwise miss out on the wonderful world of equines."
Madeline Duvall with Shaq
Madeline Duvall did not expect to find a passion for horses when she stepped foot on the Circle C Equestrian Center at a Girl Scout camp four years ago. Duvall has been swimming as long as she can remember and on the school swim team, a summer team, and an all year-round team. She is a member of the choir at school and has also gotten some lead roles in after school plays and musicals.
"Madeline assists in all aspects of our weekend and summer Girl Scout programming at Circle C Equestrian Center and sets an amazing example for the rest of our volunteers," said Cather Thacker, Equine Program Specialist. "She is a calm and supportive presence for our riders who are apprehensive."
Duvall does everything including grooming, tacking up, turn-out, feeding, cleaning stalls, watering, and other barn related projects and chores. She assists younger volunteers during those tasks, leads horses during programs, assists with mounting/dismounting and provides instruction for our beginner riders.
"My love and appreciation for horses has grown because of my experiences – and also my confidence. I used to be scared of being around a horse, but now I am comfortable with being around them," said Duvall. "I feel like I have found another family at the barn. It's an amazing experience."
Champion of Equine Service Academic Scholarship
Ashley Green with 2 of her 3 horses, Red (left) and Scoots (right)
Ashley Green transferred from College of Southern Idaho to Colorado State University (CSU) after she received an Associate degree in Equine Studies and Equine Business Management. She is now studying Equine Science at CSU with a Minor in Business Administration.
In 2018, she was accepted into the Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) program, which dedicated to improving the opportunities for college students wishing to pursue a career in the field of equine management. She volunteered for several equine charities in Kentucky as part of her internship, including Kentucky Equine Humane Center, Maker's Mark Secretariat Center, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, Old Friends Inc., and Our Mims Retirement Haven.
Horses have always been her passion - competing in a variety of Western disciplines when she was young. Her junior year She qualified for the State Finals in barrel racing and was in the top 10 standings all four years of high school.
"Each horse experience I have had has shaped me to be the horsewoman I am today and each horse has taught me something different about myself," commented Green. She did mostly barn chores as part of her volunteer experience. She said, "It was great to connect with some of these horses and feel warmed that they are in good places who care about them." Green especially enjoys caring for older horses because she has one of her own - her first horse. She wants to make sure that all horses are comfortable and happy in their older years.
Left: Sarah Lloyd - Right: Sarah with Annie at Lucky Orphans
Sarah Lloyd is a senior in high school, a member of the school's Model UN Club, the Naval Junior ROTC and the marching band, and has ridden for over seven years. "My dream career would be centered around horses," said Lloyd. "They have shaped who I am today."
"My experience volunteering at Lucky Orphans helps me with this crazy journey called life," said Lloyd. "Whether you're making sure horses get fed when an unexpected rain storm hits or working on a school project alone, hard work, patience, adaptability and reliability build character as well as a sense of pride and self-worth."
"Sarah volunteers most Saturdays," said Deanna Mancuso, Lucky Orphans Executive Director. "She helps with both morning and afternoon feeding, mucking stalls, and turning out horses. She also greets visitors and assists with our Saturday Pony Pals Program. She is a joy, confident and kind, has excellent communication skills and is patient in training new volunteers. She cares deeply for the horses, as well as the other volunteers."
Lydia Savitt and Calumet
Lydia Savitt's experience with horses started at five years old, but it wasn't until years later that it became a passion. An animal lover and member of the Animal Activist Club at her high school, Savitt was much more interested in petting horses than doing any actual riding.
That was until she started competing at a local barn as part of an Interscholastic Education Association (IEA) team where the focus was on hands-on horse care and camaraderie and where she was able to form bonds with the horses and her teammates.
Not long after, Savitt was diagnosed with scoliosis. Fearing that she would never ride again, she found the opposite true and started to understand the magic of therapeutic riding. "The core strength I gained was vital in my physical therapy, and the exercise helped me to feel more confident in my twisted body. Riding helped me to cope with scoliosis."
About a year and a half ago, Savitt learned that Access Equestrian, an adaptive riding school, was leasing out a section of her neighbor's private farm. She was thrilled to volunteer and have the opportunity to work with both kids and horses, just steps from her house.
"Access Equestrian is not work for me. Every single time that I am there I have fun, and that's why I am so incredibly happy to be a volunteer. Some days I just hack horses and do barn chores, and I am grateful to spend time with such magnificent creatures. Sometimes I spend hours-on-end helping kids, and it is the most fulfilling experience," said Savitt.
Lily and Denny at Stirrups n' Strides
Lily Stidham is receiving her second EQUUS Foundation Champion of Equine Service Scholarship in support of her goal to pursue a career in the horse industry. Lily will graduate with an Associates degree from the College of Central Florida in Ocala this month and hopes to transfer to the University of Florida to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science with an Equine Specialization.
Originally from California, Stidham moved to Florida with her family in 2006. Her love for horses began at a young age. Home schooled all through grade school, many of her school projects incorporated horses. She began riding soon after moving to Florida and sought out volunteer opportunities - one of which was volunteering for Stirrups n' Strides Therapeutic Riding Center.
During the past year, Stidham was involved with a program for veterans, who have experienced physical, emotional, or cognitive challenges, to gain independence through equine interaction. "The veterans I worked with have been through much for the sake of our country. These horses, with their sweet dispositions and patience, give the veterans an opportunity to forget about their problems and have fun while also growing physically and emotionally. Though I may never personally join the military, I realized I can do my part by helping those who return from service to enjoy life. Without volunteering at Stirrups n' Strides this past year with the veterans, I would not have had the opportunity to work so closely with these individuals and influence their lives for the better."
Being able to take her passion for horses into a career with equines really excites Stidham. Whatever her career path, she knows that these beautiful animals will always be an important part of her life. Quoting Albert Einstein, "Only a life lived for others is worth living", Stidham also hopes to continue to volunteer and help bring miracles, freedom and a sense of accomplishment to people through horses.
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: email@example.com, 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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