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May 26, 2010

A Helping Hand for Rescued Horses

At-risk horses to benefit from a national trail ride sponsored by The HSUS and ACTHA

  • These two horses, who now call Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch home, were rescued from neglect. Chad Sisneros/The HSUS

The Humane Society of the United States wants to help horse rescue groups help more horses, which is why it's proud to be a part of the American Competitive Trail Horse Association's "Ride for the Rescues," a national benefit trail ride June 13 to support horse rescues across the country.

Signing up for this ride will help other horses and hopefully set a Guinness World Record. Organizers hope to set a record for the largest trail ride in history by getting more than 1,000 equestrians to sign up for the June 13 event.

"We are so grateful that ACTHA chose to support our efforts to protect America's at-risk horses," said Keith Dane, The HSUS's director of equine protection. "The Humane Society of the United States devotes a significant amount of staff and monetary resources to horse rescues, but we want to do even more. The proceeds from this ride will enable that—as well as raise awareness about horse rescue and adoption in the nation's horse community."

ACTHA, a nationwide trail riders' association and registry, is a leader in the horse industry for recognizing and celebrating the value of adoptable rescue horses, who can be safe, reliable and lovable companions on the trail. ACTHA has stepped up to help the heroes in the horse rescue community who give these horses a second chance. All net proceeds from the June 13 coast-to-coast ride will benefit horse rescues in the United States and The HSUS's programs to aid at-risk horses.

"While ACTHA has long supported equine welfare organizations, we wanted to do something bigger and more formal than past efforts," said Tom Scrima, general manager of ACTHA. "We are excited to be able to raise funds that can go toward proven programs to aid at-risk horses."

The funds will be used specifically to support The HSUS's diverse array of programs and partnerships that assist the national horse rescue community and at-risk horses across the country. In addition, we will be making grants to horse rescue organizations who meet certain minimum eligibility criteria.

There are more than 500 horse rescues in the United States. It takes a lot of resources to rehabilitate even one horse, and horse rescue groups, like other nonprofits, rely heavily on donations to sustain their work. These funds will help them help more horses.

The HSUS's commitment to horse rescue

The HSUS is a pioneer in horse rescue outreach efforts: As the nation's largest animal protection organization, we offer nationwide hands-on assistance in horse cruelty and neglect cases; developed and maintain a national horse rescue database and Horse Adoption Program; co-founded the Homes for Horses Coalition dedicated to rescued horses, and cosponsor the Coalition's Annual Conference, convening concerned horse rescue staffers from across the country. The HSUS is also the nation's largest provider of sanctuary care to equines, providing care to more than 800 horses at the Duchess Sanctuary in Oregon and Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas. Later this year, The HSUS will open the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center at Black Beauty Ranch, allowing us to assist with even more horses.

Everyone on The HSUS's equine protection staff owns and rides horses, and has for many years. They are involved in a diverse array of pursuits: from trail riding, to hunter/jumpers and gaited horse competitions. They understand the challenges faced by horse owners and work on a daily basis to identify new, innovative ways to help people have long, successful relationships with their horses.

The goal of The HSUS is to help create happier human/horse relationships. This entails educating people about what's involved with responsible horse ownership, how to make humane decisions for horses at all stages of their lives and helping people understand how they can have horses in their lives, even if they can't afford the responsibility of becoming a horse owner.

ACTHA rides celebrate, help horses

Dane said, "We see this ride as a shining example of people in the horse industry giving back to horses, by supporting our efforts to assist rescues and provide grants to them. We hope it will inspire more in the industry to support efforts to rehome America's at-risk horses."

Each year, the ACTHA sponsors hundreds of rides across the country. The goal is to provide a casual, fun venue to showcase horses of all breeds while at the same time raising funds for equine welfare charities. To date, ACTHA, with the support of their affiliates, has raised more than $100,000 to support equine charities.

For this ride, Scrima called on volunteers to try and coordinate the largest ride the group has sponsored. About 1,000 volunteers have met the call, and arranged rides at 62 locations across the country for the June 13 coordinated trail ride. Scrima said he hopes to raise more than $100,000 for The HSUS, but that all depends on how many people show up. Nearly 1,000 have registered so far.

Participants, who should at least have basic horse-riding experience, must sign up to become a member of ACTHA for a nominal fee. Each ride spans six miles and includes six trail-riding obstacles (crossing water, leading a horse, or navigating around dead fall, for example) that will be judged at each turn. Each ride awards more than $1,200 in gifts and prizes to riders and volunteers due to the generosity of ACTHA's many national sponsors, but Scrima said most participants like the trail rides for the camaraderie and fun—and to support a good cause.

"Horses love it and people love it," Scrima said. "The whole origin of our company is that we want to do something to help the unwanted horse, and by making horses and horse riding fun, we'll hit the problem from its roots—and that's getting a horse a job again."

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