The Pillars of Equine Charities

Thanks to Ariat International, sponsor of the EQUUS Foundation Champions program, five volunteers receive a free pair of boots each quarter from Ariat in recognition of their service as volunteers for equine charities across the United States.

The five volunteers selected by random draw for the first quarter of 2020 are Linda Brueckner, Cole Feeney, Elizabeth Herman, Kevin Pei and Debbie Tabb. These five volunteers represent the tens of thousands of individuals who contribute their time freely to keep our horses safe and healthy at equine charities across the United States. Many of these charities have had to close their doors to their volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank you for your service and all look forward to spending time in nature with the horses we love!

Linda Brueckner
Cape Fear Equine Rescue
Rocky Point, North Carolina

“I love volunteering with the horses,” said Bruecker. “It brings me great joy and receiving Ariat boots — well that’s just an extra special gift!”

Brueckner was one of the lucky horse lovers who owned a horse growing up and is well aware of the time, love, money and commitment involved in owning one of your own.

“I was so glad to have found Cape Fear Equine Rescue. Volunteering allows me to provide them with the love and care they all deserve and to make a positive difference in their lives,” she said.

Cape Fear has had to rely on volunteers like Brueckner even more because hurricanes Florence and Dorian caused severe damage – and volunteers have been critical in the process of rebuilding. She looks forward to getting back to when she can spend all her time hands-on caring for all the horses that desperately need help.

 Cole Feeney
MARE Riding Center
Bakersfield, California

Horses have been at the center of Cole Feeney’s entire life. Early on while growing up in Northern California, she would often trade barn chores for lessons.

At 12 years old, when her family moved to Denver, she joined the Westernaires, a 70-year old mounted precision drill organization composed of Denver-area youth, where she received training in vaulting and trick riding as platforms to teach horsemanship, self-discipline and much more.

It was no surprise with her solid foundation in horsemanship, that she graduated cum laude from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Equine Science and Management in 2017. Not only did she become a lifelong Wildcats fan, UK provided her with experience with foaling, yearlings, broodmares, stallions, polo ponies, and Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton sales. After graduation, she moved back to California and worked with an equine clinic specializing in sports medicine and rehabilitation. “I gained a new understanding of imaging – as ultrasounds, radiographs, and MRIs were our bread and butter,” recounted Feeney. “I loved seeing the process of healing.”

“When I joined my family in Bakersfield a few months ago, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to service. I am so grateful to the warm welcome I’ve received being one of the newest additions at MARE and am excited for what the future holds!”

Elizabeth Herman
Rising Starr Horse Rescue
Wilton, Connecticut

Elizabeth Herman has been volunteering at Rising Starr Horse Rescue since its founding in 2015. From that time until today, she has experienced firsthand the growth of this equine charity from its very first horse to a full barn today. “I have always loved horses and working with the rescues at Rising Starr has brought extra joy into my life,” said Herman. “When I leave for college next year, I am going to miss all of the horses deeply.”

Growing up around horses has taught Elizabeth leadership and community skills. It has also provided her with a second family, of both horses and humans. “I am constantly inspired by seeing the rescue horses go from scared to comfortable and friendly, and I hope to continue getting to help foster that growth in the future.”

Kevin Pei
GallopNYC Therapeutic Horsemanship
Forest Hills, New York

Kevin Pei has been riding, both Western and English, for 17 years. For the past five years, he has volunteered for GallopNYC, one of the few urban therapeutic riding centers in the country.

He found GallopNYC when searching for volunteer opportunities on Facebook and was willing to do whatever they needed. Pei recounted, “When I showed up for my first day, I was hooked!” He assists in a variety of duties, including tacking up horses and barns chores, as well as serving as a paddock master.

Pei said, “I have heard riders who are non-verbal talk for the first time. I have seen riders who need help walking take their first steps unassisted. GallopNYC is not only therapeutic for their clients, it’s also therapeutic for volunteers like me.”

Cheriselle Scott, Volunteer Manager at GallopNYC, said, “Kevin’s best attribute as a volunteer is his reliability! We can always call on Kevin to be a source of support. Time and time again he has answered that call! We couldn’t be more grateful to have Kevin as a volunteer. He is a pillar of the GallopNYC Volunteer Community.”

Debbie Tabb
Helping Our Riders Succeed in Education
Midland, Texas

Tabb, a retired elementary school teacher of 29 years, started volunteering as a way to share experiences with her daughter.

“I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I really never lost that desire after retiring and have found a new way to keep making that difference through my volunteer work at Helping Our Riders Succeed in Education,” said Tabb.

Volunteering was contagious for Tabb. She continued volunteering long after her daughter moved onto to her own future in another city. She continues to thrive on being part of an organization which offers help for people of various backgrounds including veterans, survivors of sex trafficking, addiction recovery, as well as those afflicted with physical and mental disabilities.

Tabb said, “It’s the four-legged members of our team who do all the work and we just sit back and watch the magic happen!”

Learn more about Champions here

ABOUT EQUUS FOUNDATION: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, is the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100 percent dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. 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, E-mail:, Website:

ABOUT ARIAT INTERNATIONAL: 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

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Contact: Lynn Coakley


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