How Peanut Butter Changed the Life of Volunteer Robert Hyland

Thanks to Ariat International, five deserving volunteers at equine charities across the United States receive a $270 Gift Card for Ariat Boots each quarter. Ariat International sponsors the EQUUS Foundation Champions program, which aims to stimulate and reward volunteerism on behalf of horses.

We would like to congratulate the winners for the third quarter of 2022: Rose Brallier, Dee Kovac, Robert Hyland, Shelly Strahanoski, and Malcolm Talley. The EQUUS Foundation is grateful for volunteers like these who dedicate their time to keeping horses safe and healthy and aiding the charities and horses that serve people in need.

Robert Hyland

Central Virginia Horse Rescue (CVHR)

Fredericksburg, Virginia

A couple years ago, Robert Hyland and several friends started making an annual trip to Lexington, Kentucky and while there, spent the day visiting horse farms, specifically Claiborne Farms, where Secretariat retired. An advocate of animals, especially dogs, the visit inspired Hyland to help at-risk horses. For the past 15 years, Hyland has adopted rescue Greyhounds and serves on the board of the local SPCA.

He was given the chance to work with horses last January at CVHR where he volunteers three days a week.

“I thoroughly enjoy spending the day caring for the array of horses at CVHR” said Hyland. “The farm aims to rehabilitate horses so they can be adopted and live a dignified life.” Hyland became particularly fond of Peanut Butter, a retired arthritic pony.

Difficult to adopt because of his arthritis, Hyland arranged with CVHR’s Director, Stacy Collis, to adopt the pony. Peanut Butter will live out his life at CVHR educating and bringing joy to horse fans – young and old.

Rose Brallier

Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center

Redmond, Washington

Rose Brallier started volunteering at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in 2013 when she was 18 years old. She primarily serves as a horse leader in adaptive riding and also helps to train new volunteers.

When not volunteering, Brallier practices dressage on her own horse, Roman, and is looking forward to competing to put their communication to the test.

“The horses and community at Little Bit have taught me invaluable interpersonal life skills that have given me the courage to face my ongoing mental health challenges,” said Brallier.

Malcolm Talley

Hope Equine Rescue

Winter Haven, Florida

Malcolm Talley was first introduced to Hope Equine Rescue on Facebook a few years ago but it was not until January 2002 that Talley joined their team of volunteers.

Although a professed lifelong horse lover, Talley has never owned a horse but enjoys spending time photographing horses. “Volunteering has been truly rewarding,” said Talley. “The staff always makes sure that the volunteers are set up to succeed.”

On learning he won the Ariat Gift Certificate, Talley said, “I am so excited although my ten-year old Ariats are still going strong.”

Dee Kovac

The Ridge Equestrian Center IEA Team

Newtown, Connecticut

Dee Kovac has been a lifelong barn rat, beginning with weekly riding lessons at four years old, and competing over fences at local shows before she turned eight.

Fast forward, for almost 20 years, Dee has been a multi-discipline professional with a passion for equine behavior, teaching, and operations.

Kovac said, “I focus on building confidence and explaining riding theory – WHAT we are expecting from the horse, HOW to communicate what we want to the horse, and WHY the experience was successful, or needed improvement.”

Shelly Strahanoski

Ready Set Ride Therapeutic Recreation Facility

Plainville, Illinois

Shelly Strahanoski was on the lookout for a place to volunteer when she retired from 35 years of being an elementary teacher in 2021.

Ready Set Ride, which provides therapeutic equine recreational activities to special needs or terminally ill individuals, combined her love of special needs children and horses.

“I didn’t come from a riding background, but have enjoyed trail riding over the years,” said Strahanoski. “I love that I keep learning more about the personalities of each of the 14 horses each time I volunteer. I especially love caring for them and leading them during our students’ lessons.”

Learn more about Champions here.

ABOUT EQUUS FOUNDATION: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, is the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses from peril 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