Paying It Forward: How This RRP Thoroughbred Makeover Scholarship is Making a Difference

2019 Give Back to Go Scholarship recipient Megan Waleti. Photo used with permission from Canter Clix.

Eventing at its core is an individual sport — one rider, one horse. However, when you zoom out a little it becomes apparent that our sport is one in which a communal effort to make a difference is often what matters the most.

In reality, eventing (and, really, any other equestrian discipline) is very much a team sport. Think of the absolute village it takes to get a horse ready for an event at any level. The training, coaching, veterinary care, nutritional support, farrier work, and a laundry list full of other highly important cogs in the wheel that is a successful competition season certainly comprises a team.

It’s beneficial to take a look outside of our own individual bubbles from time to time. And in the name of a communal effort, a team environment, and spreading awareness for the great American Thoroughbred, Emily Daignault-Salvaggio created a special opportunity for those hoping to compete at the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover.

The Give Back to Go Scholarship wants to send a deserving rider and their OTTB to this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover in Lexington, Kentucky. The caveat? In order to apply, prospective recipients must show some altruism rather than focusing solely on their own personal goals.

“We’re really looking for people who have an inkling about giving back to the world around them,” Emily explained. “People who have a worldview of wanting to help others. It’s important to look at the world and find ways to make it better.”

The pay it forward concept of the Give Back to Go Scholarship is simple: to apply, riders must demonstrate a donation as small as $1 to a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Applicants are asked to write a brief essay or submit a short video explaining the motivation behind their contribution.

Not only does this award provide deserving riders with a priceless opportunity, but it also spreads awareness and generates donation revenue for charities around the country. “Last year we were able to give three trainers a refund and our 34 applicants raised over $1000 for various charities in the USA and Canada,” Emily said. One of last year’s Give Back to Go winners, Megan Waleti, made a pledge to volunteer with her local area more — a promise, she made good on. This year, she will be serving as Area IV’s Adult Rider Coordinator. Another winner in 2019, Ali Daucher, started the California chapter of CANTER and is still involved with the organization to this day.

2019 Give Back to Go recipient Ali Daucher. Photo used with permission from Canter Clix.

The recipient of this year’s Scholarship will receive $300, essentially a reimbursement of the Makeover’s required entry fee. The decision-making process consists of a panel of judges who will see all applications and cull them down to the top three for a celebrity panel to make the final decision on.

In 2019, the celebrity judge panel included jockey Ramon Dominguez, Barbara Livingstone, and Boyd Martin. This year’s celebrity judges have not been announced but are sure to pack a punch with a wealth of experience and star power.

The application period for the Give Back to Go Scholarship ends TODAY at midnight. For more information on applying, visit the website here. You can also stay up to date with the latest news on the scholarship’s Facebook page. This award can be given to a rider of any discipline. In addition, California applicants are eligible to receive a $150 grant sponsored by past Give Back to Go winner Ali Daucher.