In 2018, the Equis Save Foundation introduced the Rescue Recognition Program (R.R.P.) as a pilot program to destigmatize rescue horses and reward them for their accomplishments in the competition ring. The program was a roaring success, and in 2019 went nationwide to support and recognize rescue horses competing at sanctioned United States Eventing Association (USEA) and United States Dressage Federation (USDF) competitions. The program awarded over 50 ribbons this past year to deserving rescue horses and their riders. In 2020, the program looks to expand to offer awards at rated hunter/jumper shows and major breed shows.
“The Equis Save Foundation was formed by a group of Montana-based eventers and dressage riders that desired to give back to the horses they love so much, said Michelle Donaldson, president of the Equis Save Foundation. “Our organization sprouted out of a desire to save a group of yearlings and young horses that had been dumped in a kill pen and were being loaded to send to slaughter. We intervened and saved 50 horses that day.”
“Those horses were quarantined, loved, and trained and were successfully placed in forever homes,” she shared. “Many of these horses ended up in sport horse homes, and some have even gone on to compete successfully, winning awards and recognition at horse trials and dressage shows.”
“During our work with these initial batch of horses we realized how stigmatized rescue horses are,” Donaldson continued. “Many people consider kill pen and rescue horses as damaged horses. Most are not, they have simply been let down by humans.”
“The Rescue Recognition Program sprouted out of our desire to show the world that rescue horses can accomplish great things in the sport horse world and should not be considered damaged or problem animals. By destigmatizing rescues, we hope to encourage adoption and help horses in need.”
“The USEA Board of Governors carefully reviewed the Rescue Recognition Program,” said USEA CEO Rob Burk. “They did not want to arbitrarily endorse any program, especially one representing such an important area as equine rescue. At the end of that review the Board endorsed this wonderful recognition program. I have been lucky enough to witness the successes of some amazing rescue horses in the sport of eventing, including some that made it to the highest levels of the sport. I can’t wait to hear of the future successes of the horses recognized through the R.R.P.!”
For the purposes of the Rescue Recognition Program, a rescue horse is defined as “any horse that was slaughter-bound, saved from a Kill Pen, adopted from a Horse Rescue or saved from severe neglect.” Off-the-track Thoroughbreds are not eligible unless they meet that criteria. In order to participate in the R.R.P., horses must be registered with the R.R.P. prior to competition. You can obtain a free R.R.P. number for your horse by registering here.
Awards are presented for eventing from the Introductory/Elementary level all the way through the Intermediate level and for Young Event Horse and Future Event Horse classes. For dressage, overall high-point awards are available for Junior, Adult Amateur, and Professional divisions. R.R.P. also offers year-end Performance Awards based on self-reported R.R.P. points.
For Event Organizers
If you are interested in offering R.R.P. awards at your event, you can fill out a ribbon request form here.
To learn more about the Rescue Recognition Program, visit their website.
It is the eventing programs like Lee Ann Zobbe’s program in Area VIII that help keep the sport alive. In addition to teaching students how to ride, Zobbe the manager and coach at Come Again Farm, also teaches her students how to volunteer. Whether her students are 11 years old or 70 years old, volunteering is an integral part of her program located in Sheridan, Indiana.
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