Can You Make A Horse Smile? You Bet! Here's How...

by EQUUS Foundation
Katelyn with therapy horse Jewel
Katelyn with therapy horse Jewel

"Many young girls dream of owning a horse, and I was one of them. For many years, my love of horses extended only to Breyer models, Girl Scout horse badges, and riding lessons during school vacations. That all changed for me in freshman year of high school when I turned my passion into purpose."

Katelyn is one of eleven individuals who were awarded EQUUS Foundation Champion of Equine Service scholarships.

Dedicated to improving the quality of life of horses, enabling the therapeutic use of horses for those in need, fostering the horse-human bond, and educating the public about the horse's unique ability to empower, teach and heal, the EQUUS Foundation provides financial support and services to over 900 equine charities across the United States.

The EQUUS Foundation Champions program recognizes and rewards individuals for their volunteer service in support of these charities.

Katelyn is a 16-year old high school junior and member of the Crossroads East Valley IEA high school team. Active in her school and community, she admits, "horses are my passion".

When she was a freshman, she responded to an ad on the "volunteers needed" bulletin board for Stable Influence Charity Programs.

Katelyn recalls, "I enjoyed working with kids through Girl Scouts and as a mentor at school, so blending that with horses was a great opportunity for me." She eagerly signed up and has been volunteering weekly ever since.

"I was impressed by how responsive the horses are to the riders, and have learned to trust their instincts as they often sense something going on with a rider before we even notice."

"Clients get so much joy from their relationships with the horses and show progress toward their goals with every session. I consider this opportunity a blessing, as I am now more aware of the needs of others, how to communicate effectively, and how to offer appropriate help."

"Competition has built my confidence and strengthened my work ethic, and now I have a lifelong sport. Horses have taught me to be a leader not a master. My volunteer experience has taught me to do the best with what I have."

Learn more about our volunteers at

For the EQUUS Foundation, it’s all about how horses move people beyond their boundaries.  The impact of horses can be as simple as building confidence or as astounding as first words and first steps. Horses benefit people in ways that no other animal can.

In December 2012, CNN reported, “For a town that needs a hero, a hero is on the way. When the Newtown community was suffering from shock and immense sorrow from the mass murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Magic answered the call.

“All of the horses from Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses are heroes but therapy horse Magic is the best known little hero," said Jorge Garcia-Bengochea, Magic’s trainer and owner.

Travelling from Florida to Sandy Hook, Magic comforted over 600 parents, siblings and first responders including the only survivor of the tragedy. USA Today said, “Excitement surrounding the visit with Magic seemed like the beginning of a return to normalcy... like a step forward after weeks of grieving." 

Magic visits over 35,000 adults and children each year, bringing her special love to where it is needed most - inside children’s hospitals across the country and with families and first responders who have experienced traumatic events.

Magic was one of 10 horses that were inducted into the Horse Stars Hall of Fame in February 2015, a joint program of the EQUUS Foundation and the United States Equestrian Federation established to share the stories of amazing horses.

The EQUUS Foundation provides support to over 800 equine organizations across the United States. Donations are used to reduce the unwanted horse population, retrain horses for multiple careers, and make equine therapy available to more people.

There’s no doubt that Magic has captivated the hearts and strengthened the spirits of thousands. Great things do come in small packages.

From one horse lover to another, thank you for your support of our "Rescue - Rehab - Retrain - Rehome" project! We are writing to you to ask that you help us again!

Horse lovers everywhere have from now until October 7th to prove that "Horses Have the Loudest ROAR"!

The EQUUS Foundation is one of Animal Planet's eight charitable partners participating in the 2014 Animal Planet ROAR (Reach Out. Act. Respond) Matching Campaign - and the only HORSE charity!

The funds from the ROAR Campaign will be used to:
• Reduce the unwanted horse population
• Retrain horses for multiple careers
• Make equine therapy available to more people

There's $100,000 in matching funds available and five $10,000 bonuses - Top Fundraiser – Dollar Amount, Most Unique Number of Donors, Most Traffic to our Cause Page, Fan Favorite and Loudest “ROAR” Heard by Judges.

Ready to help horses ROAR? Here’s how:

Help us win Fan Favorite - Vote every day to help us win the Fan Favorite poll by clicking HERE and voting for the EQUUS Foundation!

Help us win Most Traffic! All it takes is just one click HERE between now and October 7th to increase traffic to our GlobalGiving cause page - Rescue- Rehab – Retrain-Rehome Horses Healing People.

Click HERE  this link to make a donation between now and October 7th. Animal Planet will match donations from $10 to $10,000 per donor until their matching funds are depleted.

Share this link - - with 10 friends!

Helping the EQUUS Foundation in the Animal Planet ROAR Campaign will help horses everywhere! Help us prove that "Horses Have the Loudest Roar" and make the world a better place for horses.

Over $11,000 in scholarships were awarded to thirteen individuals to reward their volunteer service in 2013.

Six academic scholarships, including one $1,000 scholarship reserved for members of the United States Pony Clubs (USPC), and $1,500 for members of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).

Two individuals received a $1,000 scholarship reserved for Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) members to advance their equestrian and/or academic education. Four individuals received a $500 scholarship reserved for Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) members to advance their equestrian and/or academic education.

New this year, the EQUUS Foundation awarded a scholarship to cover the registration fee for an individual to become a PATH Intl. Registered Level Certified Instructor.

Read the stories of these amazing individuals who are helping horses and healing people!

Alicia, Champion Scholarship Recipient, Pawtucket, RI
"My experiences with the children and the horses has changed my life and is the reason why I am pursuing a career working with children with disabilities". Read more at

Katie, Champion Scholarship Recipient – PATH, Bozeman, MT
"I see now how my love for horses can be shared with others and how their interactions with horses can change their lives forever." Read more at

Taylor, Champion Scholarship Recipient - USEF, Dunedin, FL
"It is impossible to have a bad day after spending time with severely challenged individuals who smile, simply because they shared time with a horse and to see them trust a horse with their life." Read more at

Amelia, Champion Scholarship Recipient, Jamison, PA
When Amelia was very young, she thought horses were the most beautiful animals on the planet. Volunteering taught her about the true beauty of horses.

Alissa, Champion Scholarship Recipient, Shelton, CT
Alissa needed community service hours for high school and discovered "the profound impact horses have on the lives of people, whether able or disabled, from a simple smile to making bridges in the mind that were not previously there." Read more at

Elizabeth, Champion Scholarship Recipient, Lawrenceville, GA
"I was hooked from the first day I started volunteering. I thought that therapeutic riding only benefited the participants; however, I now realize that I was also being shaped and impacted by these horses." Read more at

Claire, Champion Scholarship Recipient - USPC, Boxford, MA
"Everyone is known for something in high school, such as 'the pretty one, the class clown, the troublemaker, the geek'. I was known as 'that horse girl'."

Frances, Champion Scholarship Recipient - IHSA, Pine Village, In
A victim of teenage bullying, Fances learned that horses offered the children she worked with an escape from their harsh reality and their problems, as it did for her, and that horses healed them, as she had been healed.

Shelby, Champion Scholarship Recipient - IHSA, Highland Falls, NY
Shelby grew up on a fifty horse farm in West Point, New York. "It was the best way to grow up." She plans to pursue a career in the equestrian sport.

Brianna, Champion Scholarship Recipient - IEA, Ooltewah, TN
"I learn something new every day. I hope that one day I will get certified to be an instructor – and also a coach for an equestrian team."

Hallie, Champion Scholarship Recipient - IEA, High Point, NC
"Horses taught me so many life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, especially determination. If you fall off, you have to pick yourself up, dust off the dirt, and get back on."

Tessa, Champion Scholarship Recipient - IEA, Sudbury, MA
For all of the differences between the students that Tessa works with and Tessa, Tessa learned that there are a million more ways in which they are similar.

Julianne, Champion Scholarship Recipient - IEA, Boca Raton, FL
Julianne has logged over a 1,000 service hours since she began volunteering in 7th grade when she visited a program where her autistic brother interacted with miniature horses.

Charlie was not a rescue in the traditional sense of the word, but he could have been if it were not for the instinct of a talented horsewoman. His story is the story of a sensitive, kind but challenging horse and the bond he formed with Sherri Barnes and her daughter Kasey, born in 1993 with Downs Syndrome.

When Charlie was only two years old, he caught the eye of Sherri Barnes. Sherri watched with interest as the cowboy riding him hit the ground with a resounding thud. But Sherri saw an extremely athletic horse that could fulfill her competitive aspirations and that all he lacked was confidence. It took two more years for Sherri to talk the owner into selling him to her.

But, in 2008, at the age of nine, Charlie was seriously injured during the start of a barrel run. Sherri, Kasey and the entire Barnes family took on the challenge to care for him. Remarkably, Charlie made a full recovery, but just as Sherri and Charlie started to rodeo again, Charlie’s career took another turn.

Kasey started barrel racing at the age of seven. ”She was on a horse as soon as she was strong enough to hold her head up”, said Sherri. By 2010, Kasey’s abilities wowed everyone who saw her ride. Already a champion barrel racer, Kasey had the opportunity to compete in the Special Olympics show - but she needed a horse. “I just decided to put her on Charlie”, said Sherri. “A lot of people looked at me like I was nuts”. But Sherri saw something in Charlie and Kasey that no one else could see.

Six weeks after Kasey and Charlie began their partnership they made their debut at their first Special Olympics show in Ponder Texas and dominated the competition earning medals in eight events. After that, Kasey and Charlie competed in National Barrel Horse Association events across the southwest against typical developing peers, winning week after week.

Charlie returned to the Special Olympics venue in 2011, 2012, and 2013 - not just with Kasey but also as the mount for other team members. Once considered too skittish for competition, Charlie emerged as a solid mature minded mount and a true all-around athlete faithfully caring for special needs riders of all abilities, happily accepting side-walkers and various horse handlers and always willing to showcase his riders’ abilities to the fullest.

Charlie's story is not just about a special horse and the special bond between a mother and a daughter, it’s a story for everyone about never giving up.


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

EQUUS Foundation

Location: Westport, CT - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lynn Coakley
Westport, CT United States
2016 Year End Campaign
Time left to give
$122,070 raised of $250,000 goal
400 donations
$127,930 to go
Donate Now Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money for this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page for this project.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.