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Last updated on November 3rd, 2021 at 06:08 pm

Here are some people making change through Philanthropy in the Equestrian World 2021

“It is prodigious, the quantity of good that may be done by one man if he will make a business of it,” Benjamin Franklin once said. This feature focuses on 10 heroes doing good in their communities, raising others up, helping animals in need, and making the world a better place. 

These people are leaving their mark. Their generous spirits send a ripple effect of positive change to the world around them. The equestrian world and the world at large are fortunate to have them at work on our behalf. 

1. CHARLIE MOORCROFT

MOORCROFT CONSERVATION FOUNDATION 

Charlie Moorcroft has used his career as a trainer to shape the lives of hundreds of young equestrians, including the children of many top athletes in the sport. As a lover of all animals, not just horses, Charlie started his own collection of critically endangered and protected species of animals in 2006. Although a full-time trainer, Moorcroft’s love for teaching and sharing with others propelled him to expand his personal collection into the creation of the Moorcroft Conservation Foundation (MCF), a foundation with a mission to introduce children and adults to global conservation issues, inspire them to make a difference, and raise funds to support collaborative organizations. 

Charlie Moorcraft and a pancake tortoise. Photo: Phelps Media Group

Moorcroft’s philanthropic efforts to protect several critically endangered species within the confines of his own home have provided a platform to foster intimate, hands-on experiences for people of all ages to learn about important conservation issues. However, MCF has taken it a step further to spread the funding and knowledge by using their direct donations to help support other like-minded organizations. 

2. CHERYL OLSTEN

EQUUS FOUNDATION EQUINE AMBASSADOR LAFITTE DE MUZE 

Cheryl Olsten and EQUUS Foundation Equine Ambassador Lafitte De Muze help make wishes come true for horses in need. They turned $30,000 into $60,000 through a matched donation campaign that ran through the last day of competition at the 2021 Hampton Classic Horse Show. 

Photo: SPORTFOT

“It’s hard to imagine that, behind the glamour of equestrian sport, many of America’s horses are needlessly subjected to abuse and neglect and the threat of slaughter,” said Lynn Coakley, President of EQUUS Foundation. 

As an Equine Ambassador, a portion of Lafitte’s prize money is donated to the EQUUS Foundation to help them with their mission to rescue and re-home horses in need of next chapters. 

Laffite De Muze is the inspiration for the children’s book Big Wishes for Little Feat. Written by his owner Cheryl Olsten, it is a magical tale full of wishes and dreams, true friendship, and the power of believing. 

“Lafitte has brought so much joy and positivity into my life and that of his rider Amanda Steege,” Olsten said. “It’s wonderful how a horse can encourage us to be our better selves. He is our star.” 

3. Missy Clark

Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy

Missy Clark of North Run, an elite equitation and show jumping barn, joined forces with Erin Brown (the Concrete Cowgirl) of the Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy (PURA) to form “Concrete to Show Jumping” in 2020. Their first campaign together is the “Fresh Start for Philly Youth” initiative to help raise money for a new facility in downtown Philadelphia. PURA was established by the producers and directors of the Netflix original Concrete Cowboy movie that starred Idris Elba. 

PURA was founded to preserve the life, legacy, and culture of Black urban cowboys in the city of Philadelphia. This new facility will provide a unique space for children, teens, and adults to experience horses up close and personal, and Missy will be donating her time to help with clinics for the students. 

Clark’s strong roots in the U.S. equitation system have helped her and the North Run team to produce a long list of top riders. Many have gone on to win at the grand-prix level and have represented their respective countries in Nations Cup competitions. But Clark’s involvement in the sport goes beyond coaching and training. She’s on the North American Riders Group board and serves on several USEF and USHJA committees, including the jumper committee and the equitation committee. 

Clark and her husband John Brennan are also actively involved with the Kevin Babington Foundation, and both sit on the board of directors. She also founded The Dandelion Fund, which is linked to Danny and Ron’s Rescue and is part of the reason Philadelphia holds a special place in her heart. 

“Horses are something that touched all of our lives in such a special way,” said Clark. “It’s important to continue that legacy and bring it to people who would not otherwise have access to horses in their community.” 

The PURA facility will provide stabling for 20-25 horses, paddocks, a covered arena, and recreational space for other youth and veteran programs. 

With the help of the entire equestrian community, PURA and Concrete to Show Jumping believe that this goal is attainable. Every dollar raised will be put towards the facility and the horses and students who will call it home. 

4. MARGARET H. DUPREY 

WOMEN4DONKEYS & BROOKE USA 

Women make up nearly two-thirds of the primary caregivers for working horses, donkeys, and mules in vulnerable communities worldwide. Of the nearly 400 million women, many do not have access to education, income generation, and training in equine health and welfare. 

One person was able to turn the tide for women and donkeys in Kenya, effectively impacting more than 27,000 women. Margaret H. Duprey (see Equestrian Living March/April 2021) worked with Brooke USA to create Women4Donkeys, a program designed to empower women through education and training and provide them with business opportunities and access to credit. 

Margaret spearheaded funding for Women4Donkeys, a four-year program that needed $400,000 to help communities across Kenya. In April of this year, Women4Donkeys was completed through Margaret’s perseverance, dedication, and inspiring acts. She served not only as the program’s seed funder but also as its advocate and spokesperson. 

Women4Donkeys effectively trained women leading to 110 new animal health providers, 20 farriers, and 20 agro-vets. Project interventions reached more than 48,000 equines. The women can now build credit, engage in revenue generation, and provide an education for their children through the proper care of donkeys. 

Faith Wamal Kinyua participated in the program and expressed, “I am lacking words to fully explain how grateful I am, as well as how to convey how much my life truly depends on donkeys.” 

Women4Donkeys was the ideal project for Margaret, and its success directly correlates to her passion for advancing education and her love for horses. “I appreciate that the program teaches women about the care of donkeys so that they can keep them healthy with knowledge of proper welfare,” Margaret smiled. “I look forward to seeing the program progress and the difference it will continue to make for working equines, women, and future generations.”

 

Margaret is a lifelong equestrian and philanthropist. Her family has been involved in horses for generations, touching nearly every facet of the equestrian industry, from show horses to racehorses. She currently owns Cherry Knoll Farm in Wellington, Florida, and West Grove in Pennsylvania with her husband, Robert. 

She is an accomplished grand-prix dressage rider, training with Todd Flettrich, and in addition to dressage, she keeps several show jumpers with Olympian Laura Kraut, including the famous Cedric. Margaret is a long-time supporter of para-dressage programs through her active participation on the USET Foundation board and as a former sponsor of Paralympian Rebecca Hart. 

Margaret sees her participation in Brooke USA and other facets of the equestrian world as an important part of giving back to the sport and the animals that have brought so much joy over the years. 

5. DeETTE HILLMAN 

DAYS END FARM HORSE RESCUE 

Born on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, DeEtte Hillman, equine programs director at Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR) in Woodbine, Maryland, was horse crazy as far back as she can remember. Her path to a career in equine welfare, however, was somewhat unconventional. 

Throughout her teens, she spent considerable time traveling throughout Europe with her family, and it was this experience that helped shape her desire to be part of something that contributed to the greater good. 

As a result, her first foray into the professional world was as a founding partner of Hearts for Home, a grassroots non-profit organization that sought to professionalize motherhood. When her passion led her back to horses, she first became a volunteer at DEFHR and then assumed a part-time role before moving to Illinois and becoming an equine humane investigator for the state. Soon after, she became the head of the Humane Society of Central Illinois’ animal shelter, where she ran all aspects of the facility and had the unique opportunity to work directly with the state’s attorney in the prosecution of felony charges for animal cruelty. This work didn’t go unnoticed, and three years into the role, she received an offer from Days End Farm Horse Rescue’s CEO, Erin Ochoa, to take on the role of equine programs director. 

Since returning to the organization in 2013, Hillman has served as the liaison between DEFHR and calls from law enforcement for equine intervention. Her role includes involvement in the seizure and impoundment of equines suffering from abuse and neglect. She also oversees the horses’ rehabilitation journey and subsequent training in preparation for adoption. While Days End Farm Horse Rescue’s top priority is rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption, Hillman is quick to point out that education and community outreach are also core to DEFHR’s mission. 

“Because we are limited in our resources, and we recognize that opportunities to learn about equine welfare are not mainstream, we make the biggest impact through community outreach, education, and engagement,” she said. “In the end, helping even one person interpret the needs of a horse can have a significant effect.” 

With this philosophy, DEFHR educates both law enforcement officials—through its ongoing professional training series— and the general public through its daily farm tours and various youth programming. In addition, though the organization mainly responds to law enforcement’s calls for help in Maryland and in the mid-Atlantic region, Hillman shares that DEFHR staff view equine welfare as a national need and work hard to create opportunities for educating and sharing knowledge to a much broader audience. 

From young elementary school students to law enforcement officials to state senators, Hillman notes that everyone at DEFHR is passionate about finding innovative ways to connect with all types of individuals and groups in an effort to promote equine welfare. 

Keep reading below for five more heroes:

Robert Ross and the Equestrian Aid Foundation
Robert Ross and the Equestrian Aid Foundation
Victoria McCullough: A Prolific Savior
Victoria McCullough: Saving Horses
From Slaughter
Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding Center: Back in the Saddle 
Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding Center: Back in the Saddle 
Palm Beach Equine Partners with Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center
Palm Beach Equine Partners with Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center
The Equus Foundation’s Adoption Day at the 2021 Hampton Classic
The Equus Foundation’s Adoption Day at the 2021 Hampton Classic
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