The EQUUS Foundation has the privilege of sharing the stories of five equine service volunteers each quarter who received Ariat boots in appreciation of their volunteer service on behalf of horses.
"The stories are always uplifting and meaningful, and often poignant and inspirational--as is the story of why Steve Mazeau, father of Marie, who shared with us why he devotes his time to the healing power of horses," said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President. "We are deeply grateful to Ariat International, the sponsor of the EQUUS Foundation Champions volunteer program."
High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Steve and Jan Mazeau's daughter Marie was born in October 1998 after only a 26 week pregnancy. She weighed only 1.1 pounds. Her premature birth led to asthma, balance issues and a mild case of cerebral palsy.
Marie became a participant at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding in September 2005. Not content to sit at the sidelines during Marie's session, Steve became a volunteer side walker in February 2006. Tragically, Marie died in a swimming pool accident in April 2008, but Steve continues to volunteer.
"Being a side walker and also more recently as a therapeutic carriage driving program header has helped me find a new purpose in life and fill the gaps created with the loss of our daughter." Steve also volunteers at a 4-H horse program and joined the Connecticut Valley Driving Club as an outgrowth of his volunteering at High Hopes.
Steve, now 56 years old, confessed, "I've never actually ridden a horse!" and will be giving his Ariat gift card to one of his fellow volunteers.
Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center
Having learned to ride at a very young age, Chelsea has done it all! Skilled in both English and Western riding, a Pony Club member, a wrangler at a Dude Ranch, and everything in between, Chelsea found her passion in therapeutic riding.
At Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center, she discovered that the healing power of horses can work miracles, big and small. "It's now my goal to share the incredible connection between horses and humans with anyone who needs it," said Chelsea.
Now studying for her Master's degree in Counseling, Chelsea hopes to connect troubled individuals with horses in order to foster a positive healing environment for all involved.
Wings of Eagles Ranch
Concord, North Carolina
Shortly after Denise moved to North Carolina with her family in 2010, she learned about Wings of Eagles Ranch and decided to volunteer. Having no prior experience with horses, she was truly amazed to see the difference a horse can make in the life of a child or adult with disabilities.
"The horses go above and beyond to put a smile on the faces of our special needs children," said Denise. Shiloh aka "Miss Piggy" not only stands patiently while children groom her, she also serves as a living "canvas" while the smaller children decorate her with washable paint.
"Little miracles happen every day at Wings of Eagles Ranch, and I'm grateful to be a part of it."
California Coastal Horse Rescue (CCHR)
Oak View, California
Cathy Cunningham started volunteering at California Coastal Horse Rescue (CCHR) in February 2012. She had no equine experience, only a love of horses and a desire to get to know them.
Being fortunate enough to live across the street from the rescue, she visited the facility several days a week. The horses and the dedicated volunteers captured her heart. She quickly learned about horse care, took on a regular feeding shift and helped with numerous projects and special events. In recognition of her service and desire to give back, CCHR invited Cathy to join the Board of Directors in July 2013.
Certified as a canine specialist in nutrition through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, Cathy started and ran a pet food delivery company for 17 years. Through her company, she provided numerous rescue groups with free or greatly discounted food and supplies. She also has studied homeopathy and applies that knowledge to pets.
An all around animal lover, Cathy currently shares her home with Tommy (a rambunctious, yet very sweet, Great Dane mix puppy) and David (a very understanding husband).
Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTTT)
Kadie began riding when she was about 12 years old at a horse camp in York, Maine, and later became skilled in both the hunter/jumper and dressage disciplines.
As the only person in her family with the passion for horses, she said, "Going to the barn wasn't a regular thing for me. Every chance I get to be around horses is a memorable, exciting and happy moment."
She began volunteering at RTTT for a senior community service project. "I love going to the barn every day, working for both people and horses in every way--from barn chores and tacking up horses to side walking and interacting with clients."
Kadie's volunteer experience has encouraged her to pursue her passion. Graduating from St. Dominic Academy this spring, Kadie will be attending the University of New Hampshire as an equine studies major in the therapeutic riding track.
"There's nothing better than sharing my love for horses and helping make such a positive difference in someone's life! I can only say good things about therapeutic riding and encourage all to watch or participate in the miracles that are performed through these animals!"
The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of horses, enabling the therapeutic use of horses for those in need, fostering the horse-human bond, and educating the public about the horse's unique ability to empower, teach and heal. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: 203-259-1550, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit our website at www.equusfoundation.org.
Ariat International, Inc. is the leading manufacturer of innovative performance equestrian footwear, apparel and belts. Featuring a patented technology designed to deliver stability, durability and comfort, Ariat pioneered the application of advanced athletic shoe technology into English riding boots and authentic Western boots. Ariat products are sold in a network of retail outlets throughout the world. For more information about Ariat products or for the Ariat retailer nearest you, contact Ariat at 800.899.8141 or visit www.ariat.com.