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The Equestrian Aid Foundation has touched many lives in our horse community. Founded in1996 by horsemen for horsemen, the foundation has awarded more than $2.7 million to 153 people facing catastrophic circumstances.
Equestrian Aid Foundation, first titled Equestrian Aids Foundation, was originally established to assist members of the horse community stricken with the HIV/AIDS virus. As that health crisis eased, the foundation expanded its mission criteria to include any catastrophic illness or injury. The Foundation offers grant-based support to all horse people in need of medical care, rehabilitation, or assistance with essential expenses. In times of personal crisis, Equestrian Aid is a tangible life- line for equestrians in need.
Former rider, trainer, and now esteemed judge Linda Andrisani was felled by saliva cancer in 2011. Coordinating her radiation treatments with doctors’ appointments for herself and her long time partner and stroke victim, Jack Stedding, forced Linda to give up her main source of income as a judge. This financial burden, along with the expense of her elderly mother’s nursing care, left Linda in dire financial need. Through Board of Trustees member, the late R. Bruce Duchossois, Andrisani became a grant recipient from the Equestrian Aid Foundation. “I could not have gotten through this time without the Foundation,” Andrisani explains. “Medical bills, prescriptions, household expenses, they have been there for us every step of the way.” While Andrisani has resumed judging, Stedding remains unable to work. Again, the Foundation stepped in to help the Show Hunter Hall of Fame trainer. Andrisani states, “Without these funds, I would not be able to get Jack’s medications every month.”
The process for application to the Equestrian Aid Foundation is transparent and thorough. Required paperwork includes an explanation of circumstances and financial information to assess the extent of funding required. There is no financial cap on grants and an applicant may apply more than once. EAF endeavors to make the process easy and streamlined for the applicant. As Director of Grant Recipient Services, Janise Gray states, “We are small enough to be personal, but large enough to make a huge difference in the lives of those we are assisting.” Following the death of legendary rider Charlie Weaver in 2010, the Foundation established the Charlie Weaver Endowment Fund to promote sustainability of the Foundation. Proceeds from fundraisers and private donations are directed to general fund and readily available for use. Grant monies are given directly to the equestrian applicants or their representative.
EAF receives funds from a few fundraisers each year as well as private donations. In February of 2017 in Wellington, FL, they beautifully staged the unique event “Althea”, a hybrid of equine dance and circus riding reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil. Described as “an evening of enchantment as humans and horses journey together to find magical powers of healing,” the show was ethereal and impressive. Other EAF fundraisers will be held throughout the year and will be advertised on their website, equestrianaid.com.
The Equestrian Aid Foundation was founded by horse people for horse people. As seventeen year Board of Trustees member Mimi Tashjian explains, “ The equestrian community is like a family. There are many hard working, kind, dedicated equestrians who are so busy taking care of their horses and clients, they forget to take care of themselves.” Equestrians by definition are horse centric and optimistic, leaving little room to plan for the unplanned, to consider the unthinkable event that may change their lives. Visit equestrianaid.com to hear the testimonials of many of the Foundation’s recipients. The equestrian world is bound by a shared love of horses. Equestrian Aid Foundation further unites us in the common bond of humanity and compassion. Include EAF in your charitable giving.
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By Sissy Wickes – Editor, The Plaid Horse
Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist, an autism advocate and Editor of The Plaid Horse. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.