July 30, 2010
A Force for Horses: Conn. Student Wins HSUS Scholarship
Connecticut student’s animal advocacy wins her the 2010 Shaw-Worth Memorial Scholarship
Though Abbie Branchflower was just eight years old when she read Marguerite Henry’s Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West, the book changed her life: It opened her eyes to the brutality of horse slaughter.
"I had no idea the terrible conditions that horses endured both before and during slaughter," Abbie wrote in her scholarship essay to The HSUS.
Abbie, a 2010 graduate of Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn., began researching the issue and decided she needed to do something. She spent the next few years writing to presidents and politicians such as former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Overcoming shyness, she made numerous phone calls to Connecticut representatives on Capitol Hill and gave speeches to her local 4-H club.
Abbie celebrated when horse slaughter became illegal in the United States, and she hopes to help influence other countries to change their policies as well. Each year thousands of American horses are inhumanely transported across the borders to Canada and Mexico for slaughter so places such as France, Italy, and Japan can buy the meat for human consumption. These horses, who could lead productive lives with loving owners, are instead shipped long distances in cramped trailers without food, water, or rest.
On track to help horses and others
Abbie spends countless hours speaking up for horses facing slaughter and also about Premarin mares and foals, carriage horses in New York City, the mismanagement of mustangs, and the dangers of horse racing.
At Newtown High School, she co-founded Charitable Acts in Newtown Towards Equine Rescue (C.A.N.T.E.R.), which holds fundraisers and school events to support local horse rescues and heighten awareness of major horse issues in the United States. Abbie became an active member of the Animal Concerns Club at her high school, and as an editor and reporter for her student newspaper, she wrote and published numerous articles about animal welfare.
When she's not working on homework or horses, she volunteers at her local cat rescue and participates in numerous fundraisers for spay-neuter programs and to help stop factory farming and puppy mills.
"I don't see my future job as merely a means to provide for myself. I want to make a difference and give back to the animals that have meant so much to me, and always will," concluded Abbie in her scholarship essay.
Her hard work as an animal protection advocate made her the clear winner of the 45th Shaw-Worth Memorial Scholarship, which The Humane Society of the United States awards to a New England high school senior for significant work in the animal protection field. The $2,500 scholarship will go toward Abbie’s pre-veterinary studies at Delaware College.