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July 17, 2019

Some of the best and most rewarding times of my life!

Anya, Web, Handsome, Geebs and Classy are five lucky special horses that are loved by dedicated volunteers across the United States. Thanks to Ariat International, sponsor of the EQUUS Foundation Champions program, five volunteers each quarter receive a free pair of boots from Ariat. The five EQUUS Foundation Champions for the second quarter of 2019 are Tess Johnson, Diane McCarthy, Rena LaBue, Laura Mastropaolo and Beverly Shearstone.

Tess Johnson
Pony Tales Refuge and Rehab, Inc.
Colfax, Wisconsin

Tess Johnson, 19, is an avid horse enthusiast who spends as much time as she can at Pony Tales Refuge and Rehab.

Her first volunteer experience in 2016 was participating in the Trainer's Challenge where she was paired with one-year old, Anya. Tess developed a special bond with Anya when she initially went on the trip to pick her up to bring to the rescue and has had a partnership with her since then. Anya's personality won her over and they quickly became a team - finishing in 3rd place in an obstacle course out of 26 other competitors.

"Pony Tales rescue is a home away from home for me," said Tess. "Cindy Prince, the founder and executive director, has been a great role model for me. I appreciate everything she's done for the rescue and me!"

EQUUS Foundation
Tess with Anya

Diane McCarthy
Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, Inc.
Dover Plains, New York

Diane McCarthy has loved horses all her life, always having a special interest with horses that were a bit more difficult or harder to find homes for. She has volunteered for Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue for over two years.

Her first horse, and love of her life, was a school horse she rescued when he was no longer useful to the program because he was too difficult for lessons. Diane loved him and couldn't bear to part with him and adopted him. She continued to rescue horses, adopting a retired "off-the-track Thoroughbred", a pony with laminitis, a lovely Trakehner she found on Craig's List for $100 and lastly a paint horse with no home.

Currently, two of her rescues are enjoying life on a 40-acre farm in Virginia with six other horses. Diane spends her days hand cutting hay for her rescue pony, Web, because she has many missing teeth making it difficult for her to eat.

EQUUS Foundation
Diane with Web

Laura Mastropaolo
Boots to Grasses Therapeutic Horsemanship Program
Berlin Heights, Ohio

Laura Steuk-Mastropaolo has the honor to work with her PATH-certified instructor daughter, Isabella Mastropaolo-Bender, in founding and running Boots to Grasses Therapeutic Horsemanship Program. The program has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2016.

Laura donates her time and manages all the grant wiring, marketing, social media, assisting with lessons, and organizing group events and trips. Some of their highlights are the annual Ability Friendly Easter Egg Hunt, the Horsey Halloween Party, The Christmas Cookie Decorating Party, Summer Horse Camp, movie days, and the BtG Annual Trip! Last year she led the trip to Kentucky Horse Park and, this year, just returned from leading the BtG Family on an amazing week-long visit to Chincoteague, Virginia to see the wild ponies.

"Working with our friends in the special needs community and our beloved horses is an absolute blessing in my life!" The work is hard, and the hours are long, but Laura would not have it any other way!

EQUUS Foundation
Laura with Classy

Rena LaBue
Begin Again Horse Rescue Inc.
Lima, New York

Community service and giving back have always been important to Rena LaBue. After 12 years as a volunteer caregiver at a hospice that specialized in serving those with the greatest need and the fewest resources, she found herself ready to move in a new direction. Rena heard of Begin Again Horse Rescue, checked out their website and showed up at the barn one Saturday for their open volunteer hours.

They warmly welcomed Rena, handed her a muck rake, and put her to work. That was about two years ago. Rena quickly came to understand the peace and joy that can be found in a barn. Saturday care takers, Deb and Karen, have taught her so much about caring for horses and horse handling, and they've become dear friends.

"The most wonderful part of volunteering has been discovering a real love and respect for horses." She loves discovering that they all have very distinct and unique personalities, meeting new rescues and getting to know each horse as an individual.

EQUUS Foundation
Rena with Handsome

Beverly Shearstone
Helping Horseshoe Therapeutic Riding Club
Andover, New Jersey

Beverly Shearstone, 68, has had a life dedicated to enjoying horses. Her family picked up an interest in riding together when Beverly was a child, and Beverly was lucky enough to be able to ride at various times throughout her life.

Fast forward to four years ago - Beverly retired and felt something was missing. Having never been able to afford her own horse she decided to start volunteering at Helping Horseshoe Therapeutic Riding Club, a therapeutic riding center for children with disabilities.

"These last four years have been some of the best and most rewarding times of my life," Beverly says, "to be able to witness a child who is nervous about getting on a horse and then break out a smile is just wonderful. Just goes to show that you are never too old to learn. I have met so many wonderful people who have inspired me and have made new friends. I hope to continue doing this for many more years."

EQUUS Foundation
Pictured is Kara Stark McGrew, Beverly and Geebs

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: 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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