“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson didn’t plan for these famous words to make such a lasting impact on generations to come, yet they have. And the Equestrian Aid Foundation (EAF) has modeled itself after these words and is creating brighter tomorrows for horse people in need.
Since its inception 20 years ago, Equestrian Aid Foundation has provided over $2.5 million in grant-based assistance to sick and disabled horse people in need of a helping hand. EAF is a leading non-profit organization that assists people from all corners of the horse world who are coping with catastrophic injury or illness.
When equestrians or equine professionals become injured or ill, they can lose everything: jobs, homes, financial security, dignity and independence. Oftentimes, they lose the ability to stay involved with the animals they love so dearly. Even with insurance, bills accumulate. Families are impacted. A little help with expenses can make a tremendous difference to a sick or disabled horse person who’s experiencing adversity.
Allison Angove was a straight-A student and promising cross-country rider. At just 16 years old, Allison’s life changed forever when her horse stumbled and fell after a jump while schooling for a competition. This accident left her a quadriplegic, and her parents faced a heartbreaking reality. They questioned how they could possibly afford the extensive medical procedures that Allison would require.
After Allison underwent 15 agonizing surgeries, the Angoves reached out to the Equestrian Aid Foundation. Since becoming a grant recipient, Allison has been able to undergo stem cell, hyperbaric and other supplemental therapies including aquatherapy. She has regained enough use of her right arm to be able to correspond, and her parents are exploring additional treatments to see what potential Allison has for more movement in her extremities.
“The Foundation has really helped with Allison’s physical therapy, and she’s making great progress,” her family said. “We also had to upgrade our old used van, which was becoming less and less reliable for getting Allison to and from her appointments. We couldn’t have done that without Equestrian Aid Foundation and we’re very thankful and hopeful that Allison will be able to walk again someday.”
Equestrian sports unite people with one fundamental commonality: a love of horses. 2016 marks the EAF’s 20th year of helping horse people who are suffering from debilitating injuries or illness by providing grant-based financial support to breeders, farriers, grooms, riders, trainers and other equestrians who are facing major health crises.
“When I speak so passionately about Equestrian Aid Foundation, I’m often asked why I became involved,” said Stephanie Riggio Bulger, Equestrian Aid Foundation board president. “Believe it or not, until recently I didn’t have a succinct answer that encapsulates the spirit of the Foundation as well as my devotion to it. After some soul searching, I realized that Equestrian Aid not only helps people financially, but also brings a sense of a caring and community into what’s often a painful and solitary experience for our grant recipients.”
In remote Northeast Texas, far from the glittering world of elite show circuits, Equestrian Aid has come to know an individual in need of assistance with no professional equine background. Milton Hopkins is neither an Olympian nor a nationally ranked equestrian. He’s not a famous vet nor farrier. He simply loves his horse, Big Baby, a rescued Thoroughbred. Baby is the reason Milton keeps going despite coping with a host of life-threatening illnesses: diabetes, hepatitis C, coronary artery disease and other health struggles. He lives each day with a sense of purpose because of Baby. Before Equestrian Aid awarded a grant to Milton, he often went without food so Baby could eat. However, this devotion did not overcome Milton’s own need for support.
“Because of Equestrian Aid, medical supplements, food, utilities and insurance are all available to me now,” Milton said. “The Foundation has been my inspiration that has worked for my betterment. You are people I don’t know who care more about me than people I do know. It blows my mind!”
The Equestrian Aid Foundation is rooted in a mission to “be honorable, to be compassionate … make some difference.” Milton, Allison and so many others like them are the reason the EAF was founded and continues to raise funds for those who are most deeply affected.
Visit www.EquestrianAidFoundation.org to learn how you can help create a brighter tomorrow for a fellow horse person in need.
Photos courtesy of the Equestrian Aid Foundation