Support two great equestrian-loving causes
Last month, as part of our mission to draw attention to charities and good causes in our equestrian community, we reported on the Equestrian Club at the University of Washington’s collaboration with Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, a non-profit in Washington State. Since our last printing, I had the chance to sit down with Equestrian Club board members and Patricia Clark from Serenity to shine a brighter light on two fantastic groups collaborating on a great cause.
Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation is a non-profit that began with Patricia Clark in 2007. She opened her equine facility as a training program but was motivated to help when she heard about the Dean Solomon animal hoarding case and took in horses in need. Since, she has been saving horses from abuse and neglect and finding them new homes.
Patricia is keenly aware that the average horse sees 7 different homes in its lifetime. One of her goals for the rescue is that horses going through her program find permanent and long-lasting living situations. In this way, Serenity has become unique in that animals coming through her rescue can stay as long as necessary to sort out not only medical issues before being adopted, but the behavioral and training problems that often accompany mistreated animals.
Over the years, Patricia has developed a “Horses as Healers” program that collaborates with the Wounded Warrior Project to offer veterans the opportunity to learn about, and help with the animals. She promotes an Educational Program for her community that offers resources and information to horse owners that might need help understanding proper care for livestock, and she runs volunteer and community efforts related to Serenity year-round.
The Equestrian Club at the University of Washington has members who have worked with Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, as well as adopted some of Patricia’s horses, so when COVID impacted the equestrian club and they were looking for a way to pursue their mission for 2020, the horse rescue immediately came to mind.
One of the Equestrian Club at UW’s primary goals is to minimize barriers related to equestrian sports. The club is open to anyone interested in joining, whether that rider is brand new to the sport or has been riding for years. They welcome all disciplines, and foster a sense of community and belonging by trying to be as inclusive as possible to those who join.
“We can’t do anything related to our team without help from others,” says Olivia Brandon, one of the club’s board members, a notion that she believes is in stark contrast to a sport that often fosters competition and individualism.
The club has always operated under these ideals, offering scholarships and funding to riders so they can take lessons, pay for hotels, and supplement transportation to shows and training facilities. In this way, the Equestrian Club at UW minimizes the financial burden of riding to make it more accessible. Western, English, Jumpers, Dressage; the club welcomes horse lovers of any kind.
COVID has impacted the equine community in a number of ways, but by limiting large gatherings it eliminated the possibility for both Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation and the Equestrian Clubs at UW’s to host their typical fundraisers. The club also lost its funding from the university this year, a vital $2500 used to cover costs directly related to their mission statement of improving its accessibility to members.
When Fiona Dunbar, a board member of the club, learned about Serenity and that it was unique in allowing horses to stay for as long as necessary, she says, “It really changed how I felt about how we treat the animals in our sport.” She was shocked to learn about the average number of homes a horse sees in its lifetime and felt the heart of the equestrian club’s mission was much aligned with the values of Serenity.
And so the two collaborated. The organizations set a goal of raising $20,000 before the end of the year, with 60% of the profits going to Serenity and 40% to the Equestrian Club. The club sees the partnership as a way of giving back to the animals in our sport that are often forgotten or discarded, as well as a way to raise money for their goal of making an expensive and exclusive sport more accessible to others.
Patricia, a UW Alum herself, says, “I’ve never met young women who are more organized or hardworking in my life.” It is a collaboration that works for all the horses and people involved, and it was a pleasure to sit down and speak with such passionate members of our equine community.
To support this fantastic cause, here is what you need to know…
DEADLINE: DECEMBER 31
Fundraising Goal: $20,000
Donate here: GoFund Me
Serenity Horse Rescue 60% of funds
Equestrian Team at UW 40% of funds