NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Equestrian Sport Productions and Gold Coast Feed have partnered to launch the ASPCA Hay It Forward project, designed to raise awareness of equine welfare issues while providing much needed hay to local equine rescue organizations in the Wellington, Fla. community. Gold Coast Feed is currently accepting donations for the project, which can be made by purchasing hay directly from the supplier. The ASPCA and Equestrian Sport Productions will identify local equine rescue groups in need of hay, and it will be distributed to recipients throughout South Florida. If successful, this program could serve as a model for other regions of the country.
The ASPCA Hay It Forward program celebrated its official launch at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on March 16. ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors Hayley Barnhill, Georgina Bloomberg, Brianne Goutal, Paige Johnson, Stacia Madden, and Jessica Springsteen, joined ASPCA advocacy officials, Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions, and other VIPs for a reception at the new ringside Nespresso Boutique to raise awareness about the many grave issues impacting horses today, including the threat of horse slaughter. As long as horse slaughter remains a legal option, the rescue network is a critical safety net to ensure that every horse has a place to go. Most rescues are able to rehome horses and prevent otherwise healthy horses from being purchased by kill buyers.
"The ASPCA is proud to be joining forces with Equestrian Sport Productions and Gold Coast Feed to help at-risk horses and provide much needed aid to local equine rescue groups," said Valerie Angeli, senior director of equine and special projects for the ASPCA. "This program encourages equestrians to give back to the local community and brings attention to the fact that there are many horses in this country facing an uncertain future who need our voice and assistance."
"The price of hay has been impacted by fires and droughts, so hay has become a precious commodity for horse owners. Rescue groups operating on small donations are always struggling to afford feed, and I think it is our duty as equestrians to make an effort for horses at risk who are not as lucky as the show horses competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington," added Georgina Bloomberg, ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador. "I am excited that there are some amazing horse rescue groups in the Wellington, South Florida area that will benefit from this program, and I am happy that this community is stepping up to assist the ASPCA in helping horses who need our voice."
"We are excited about working with the ASPCA Hay It Forward project, another great example of working collaboratively for the benefit of the equestrian community," said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions. "We hope everyone will participate."
"This has been a really good project for the Wellington horse show community and we have enjoyed being part of such a great cause," said Barbara Stanfield, a representative from Gold Coast Feed. "We are all horse people, so it is amazing that so few of us are aware of critical equine welfare issues, and the many unlucky horses who need help."
"The ASPCA Hay It Forward project is a supplemental program to our existing Hay Bale Out grants program, which helps feed hungry horses across the United States," said Jacque Schultz, senior director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. "This new initiative allows us to dedicate even more resources to at-risk horses, and we are honored to be a part of this program."
In 2012, the ASPCA Equine Fund awarded $1.8 million in the form of over 250 grants to equine welfare groups throughout the United States. The ASPCA Equine Fund provides grants to non-profit equine welfare organizations in the United States for purposes in alignment with their efforts to protect horses. The grants program seeks to award equine organizations who strive to achieve best practices, including sound horse care, maintenance of updated websites and robust fundraising practices.
To make a donation to the ASPCA Hay It Forward project, contact Gold Coast Feed at (561) 793-4607. To learn more about the ASPCA’s advocacy efforts for horses, the ASPCA Equine Fund and the Hay It Forward Project, visit www.aspca.org/horse.