An Eventer’s Guide to #GivingTuesday

Photo by Abby Powell. Photo by Abby Powell.

So how did you fare this Thanksgiving weekend? No, I’m not asking if you regret eating enough mashed potatoes to fill a skull cap (I don’t) … I’m asking how your wallet is feeling after a weekend of in-your-face sale ads. Because if there’s one thing horse people love as much as horses, it’s stuff for our horses.

There’s no denying that there were some pretty fantastic deals out there this weekend, and considering horse stuff is so expensive in the first place, it’s hard not to heed the call of those Black Friday and Cyber Monday doorbusters. While there’s no shame in taking advantage of the most wonderful time of the year for shopping, I find today, Giving Tuesday, to be a breath of fresh air after a weekend of intense consumerism.

While there are many worthy causes around the globe, I’d like to take a moment to address the very specific group of people reading this article — horse people — and point out a few ways that we can make a difference in our small niche of the world or your local community. As we head into this season of giving, let’s take a moment to think about what it’s important to us as eventers and horse lovers and how we can use #GivingTuesday to help ensure that our passion is preserved to share and enjoy for years to come.

Land Preservation Organizations

Aside from the horses themselves, is there anything more essential to equestrian sports, and eventing in particular, than open land? Land preservation is essential for the wellbeing and nature of the animals we work with and it is particularly essential to our sport of eventing. Without land, there can be no cross-country as we know it!

Your Local Combined Training Association

From the grassroots on up, local combined training organizations are the bread and butter of our sport. Local CTAs supplement the bigger USEA events, the core of eventing in the United States, and they play a very important role in keeping eventing more accessible to a greater number of people.

Clients of Windrush Farm in Boxford, MA showcase their skills during a demonstration at the 2016 Groton House Farm HT. Photo by Abby Powell.

Clients of Windrush Farm in Boxford, MA showcase their skills during a demonstration at the 2016 Groton House Farm H.T. Photo by Abby Powell.

Therapeutic Riding Programs

Programs that offer therapeutic riding and driving or hippotherapy are often in need of donations. Although equine-assisted therapy can provide real benefit to people with mental or physical disabilities, it is not often covered by health insurance and the programs are understandably expensive to run (they do involve horses after all). Some stables additionally offer programs for able-bodied participants of various demographics such as veterans or at-risk inner-city youth, which are a great way to introduce many different people to the benefits of working with and being around horses.

USEA Research Studies

If you’re looking for a way to more directly impact the future of eventing specifically, look no further than the studies and programs organized by the USEA Foundation. The two ongoing studies, the Equine Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study and the Collapsible Fence Technology Research Study, both have the power improve the safety of eventing and impact horse and rider welfare for the better, while the Instructor Certification Program and the Officials Training program help to secure eventing’s future.

Equine Rescues

From auction-bound horses to Mustangs to OTTBs, there are a plethora of equine rescue organizations out there both locally and nationally. Each one could potentially match some lucky rider with their perfect steed. While, sure, a well-bred young event horse destined for the upper-levels may have a leg up on the competition, one of the things that I love about eventing is that it’s possible for any horse to do well at it if they have enough heart. Heart is an abundant commodity amongst rescue horses; sometimes you just have to put a little polish on a diamond in the rough.

My own pony is one such diamond in the rough. Photos courtesy of the MSPCA and Dan Powell.

My own pony is one such diamond in the rough. Photos courtesy of the MSPCA and Dan Powell.

Veterinary Aid Organizations

We are exceptionally fortunate to be able to participate in this sport that we love. While we generally enjoy horses on a recreational level, many other people around the globe rely on equines for their livelihood. Veterinary care for working equines and basic veterinary or husbandry education for the people that use them, not only help the hard-working animals across the globe, but the people that depend on them as well.

Volunteer

While the goal of #GivingTuesday is generally to secure monetary donation for organizations, there are other ways to give than just financially. If you’d prefer not to make a monetary donation this season, consider pledging your time instead. We’re all aware of the shortage of volunteers in eventing — use this time to reach out to any of your local organizations get your name on their email list; they’ll be happy to have you.

Go Eventing. Go Giving.

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