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Nancy Bidlack, Carol Burnell, Judy Kirby, Cathie Morton and Roxie Nieroda have never met but they share a commitment to ensuring that America's horses live in comfort, and with purpose and dignity. They are also the five volunteers that are receiving new boots thanks to Ariat International, the sponsor of the EQUUS Foundation Champions program.

Roxie Nieroda and Buddy -  Missouri Forget Me Not Horse Rescue and Sanctuary  Linn Creek, MO
Roxie Nieroda and Buddy - Missouri Forget Me Not Horse Rescue and Sanctuary, Linn Creek, MO

Roxie Nieroda, a 63 year old grandmother, retired two years ago from a lifelong career as a CPA and financial consultant. "I have always loved horses and always dreamed of owning a horse one day," said Roxie.

When she retired, a friend told her about the Missouri Forget Me Not Horse Rescue and Sanctuary, a charity committed to providing aid and sanctuary to abused, neglected, abandoned or donated horses in peril and to providing a network of support and basic equine educational resources to help prevent any further abuse and neglect.

So, Roxie volunteered to feed the horses and muck the stalls. Roxie also offered her professional skills to keep the books, and it wasn't long before she joined the Board and assumed the position of Treasurer. "I love being able to help save these beautiful animals from neglect and abuse," said Roxie.

Then Buddy found Roxie one day. "He made me adopt him", said Roxie. "I am glad that I am able to help this wonderful organization, and am so grateful that my dream came true."

Nancy Bidlack and Sierra -  Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center  Lexington, VA
Nancy Bidlack and Sierra - Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center Lexington, VA

Nancy Bidlack remembers how she felt when Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center opened in 1994. "It was great news! My husband, Rich, and I were so happy to find a place where our disabled son, David, could get exercise, make friends - including shaggy ones - and have tons of fun. Hoofbeats was a godsend."

Hoofbeats, now located on the Virginia Horse Center grounds, serves riders with a diverse range of physical, mental, and emotional needs "There is something incredibly special and empowering about earning the respect of an animal that weighs over ten times more than you, said Carol Branscome, Hoofbeats' Director.

Over time, volunteering became a family affair. Nancy started out by writing press releases, then took on grant writing. Rich served on the board of directors, and son Christopher worked on Hoofbeats' sensory trail for his Eagle Scout project.

"Hoofbeats was the answer to a prayer for our family," said Nancy. "I volunteer because I know first-hand the joy Hoofbeats brings to disabled children and adults – and their families."

Carol Burnell and M&M Equestrian Inc.  Tampa, FL
Carol Burnell and M&M Equestrian Inc., Tampa, FL

Carol Burnell's experience with horses began with her father's race horses when she was a little girl. Her career as a portfolio manager with Sun Trust Bank brought her to Florida 28 years ago. It wasn't until after she retired that she reconnected with horses.

She looked for volunteer work and discovered Equestrian Inc., a charity dedicated to rescuing Thoroughbred horses bred and raised for racing from slaughter, neglect, and abuse.

Most of the horses that arrive at Equestrian, Inc., have minor to severe injuries. It often requires a few months to a year to heal before they can be placed in qualified homes and lead productive and healthy second careers.

"It’s so fulfilling to work with the off-the-track Thoroughbred", said Carol, "and I love seeing them adjust to their new off-track lives."

Judy Kirby with JZ - Special Equestrians  Warrington, PA
Judy Kirby with JZ - Special Equestrians, Warrington, PA

Judy Kirby spent time around horses as a teenager in England. It was her neighbor who told her about Special Equestrians and how her neighbor's daughter had been benefiting from therapeutic riding for many years.

Judy has been a regular volunteer since September 2010 - helping in the barn, getting horses clean and tacked for lessons, assisting in classes and mentoring new volunteers. Recently Judy was invited to join the exercise team and was introduced to a new experience - riding JZ, a Missouri Fox Trotter. "It’s been such fun and SO different from my 20 year old Haflinger," said Judy, who she has ridden in the "Silver Saddles" program for many years. "I am truly grateful for the care my Haffie takes to keep me safe," - a very important consideration for a senior!

"The power of these wonderful horses to lift spirits and aid in healing is remarkable – and their ability to transition to their roles as therapy horses never ceases to amaze me. I am so happy to be a member of this wonderful organization."

Cathie Morton and Patches - Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, Inc.  Dover, NY
Cathie Morton and Patches - Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, Inc., Dover, NY

"Being part of Lucky Orphans has allowed me to show my family the meaning of community and giving back, while allowing me to continue my relationship with horses themselves." Cathie Morton has been an educator since 1997 and currently works as a Coordinator of Library Media Services and Library Media Specialist in Dutchess County, New York.

Having loved and grown up with horses herself, Cathie was eager to share her passion with her own children. Seven years ago, she and her then five year old daughter discovered Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue (LOHR).

Founded by Deanna Mancuso, LOHR not only provides a safe haven for unwanted, abused, neglected horses, it also helps people, especially children, overcome their own adversity, build leadership and teamwork, by helping the horses to rebuild their trust in people.

Since that time, Cathie's involvement with Lucky Orphans has evolved from volunteer and committee member to sponsor and Board member. Through her efforts last year, all 350 students at her Middle School participated in a field trip to LOHR as part of a character education program designed to foster problem-solving skills and encourage team-building.

"Being part of Lucky Orphans has allowed me to show my family the meaning of community and giving back, while allowing me to continue my relationship with horses themselves."

The Equus Foundation

About EQUUS Foundation

The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, the only national animal welfare charity in the United States dedicated solely to horse welfare and the horse-human bond. 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:

Ariat International

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

Our Mission — Serving the professional horse person, amateur owners, occasional enthusiasts and sporting interests alike, the goal is to serve all disciplines – which often act independently yet have common needs and values.

Equine Info Exchange is totally comprehensive, supplying visitors with a world wide view and repository of information for every aspect related to horses. EIE provides the ability to search breeds, riding disciplines, horse sports, health, vacations, art, lifestyles…and so much more.

EIE strives to achieve as a source for content and education, as well as a transparent venue to share thoughts, ideas, and solutions. This responsibility also includes horse welfare, rescue and retirement, addressing the needs and concerns of all horse lovers around the world. We are proud to be a woman-owned business.