Equestrians from all over the country gathered on the evening of January 14, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the Pegasus Awards Dinner of the United States Equestrian Federation to recognize outstanding achievements in the equestrian world. Among those honored was Molly Sweeney, the recipient of the EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award.
In accepting the award, Sweeney said, “I thought I should go to a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word, “Humanitarian”. One definition says helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people. Given that definition, and this group of people, I believe the Humanitarian award should go to all the horses out there who bring so much happiness to so many people. As for me, I was born with a defective gene that makes me addicted to horses. I bet many of you have inherited the same one.”
Sweeney was recognized for her local and national-level volunteer work for over two decades in the equine assisted activities and therapies (EAA/T) field. Through her work, she came to fully understand how profoundly horses affect people on the physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, and even spiritual levels. She also became convinced of the importance of professional research to validate the impact horses have on human behaviour.
She said, “Why research you ask? Because research brings knowledge and knowledge leads to education. This research will educate the medical world about the value of equine assisted therapies. It will educate clients about results they can expect from riding. It will educate donors about why they and you should invest in EAA/T. It will educate insurance companies why they should reimburse riding expenses for clients. It will educate the therapists and instructors about best practices. And ultimately it will validate the power of the horse to transform lives.”
In closing, Sweeney said, “I am often asked why I am involved with all this research. And I reply – My vision is that one day, every child who is diagnosed with Autism or Cerebral Palsy, or Down Syndrome or any other disorder, will be given a doctor’s prescription for horse back riding. Every adult with a Traumatic brain injury or depression or recovering from a stroke, or requiring rehabilitation, will be given a prescription for horse back riding. Every At-Risk child or adult will be given the chance to work with horses. And dare I say that every stable, every barn, every horse facility will offer sessions for people with special needs, and insurance companies will pay for it. And every horse will be appreciated for their intrinsic value to bring happiness and healing to people.”
View the 2012 Pegasus Awards Dinner at www.usefnetwork.com/featured/USEFAnnualMeeting2012. To learn more about the Horses and Humans Research Foundation, visit www.horsesandhumans.org
About The EQUUS Foundation, Inc.
Horses have a way of making us feel everything from excitement to joy to tranquility. Age is not a limitation – horses are aiding children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. By bonding with these gentle giants, we learn to take control of our lives and become more capable of facing life’s challenges. No other animal can make us feel the breadth of emotions that our equine partners do.
The EQUUS Foundation, a national charitable foundation established in Connecticut in 2002, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of horses, fostering the use of horses to enrich the lives of people in need and educating the public about the horse’s unique ability to empower, teach and heal. The goal is to transform the way horses are treated and perceived and build a more compassionate America that values the magical and powerful bond we have with horses.
The Foundation accomplishes its mission by providing financial support through the award of grants to horse-related charities across the United States; operating a network of equine organizations and equine enthusiasts; providing scholarships to award volunteer service on behalf of horses, offering insight on the management and financial practices of horse-related charities through a thorough review of their operations; and conducting information outreach to educate the public about horses.
The Foundation awarded its first grants in 2003 to seven local horse charities. Recognizing that horses are enriching the lives of millions of people of all ages every day, in 2008, the Board of Directors made a commitment to expand nationally, and also adopted the name, “Horse Charities of America”, to more clearly convey its commitment to all equine charities.
The Foundation funds a broad range of programs, most of which are directly involved with horse rescue and welfare, or are providing equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) to the public. The Foundation also funds programs with its Alliance partners that educate the public about horses, provide services that benefit the equine community, and help stimulate advocacy and volunteerism.
Thanks to the generous support of individual donors, corporate sponsors, and foundations who share our vision, participation at our signature events, and our Horse Whisperers named grant program, the Foundation has grown exponentially, and has awarded nearly $2 million in grants, achieving national recognition as the primary organization solely focused on both horse welfare and fostering the horse-human connection in the sport, recreational and therapeutic communities.
To receive news of EQUUS Foundations programs and activities, sign up at www.equusfoundation.org/signup. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.equusfoundation.org.