I think we all hit a point in the pre-Christmas scrambling, shopping, decorating, cooking and traveling where the excitement and joy of the season starts to wear off a bit. We're tired and stressed and we think to ourselves, "What is this all about again???" It's a good thing when we hit this point–it helps bring us back to what really matters (hint: it's not the tree and the trimmings). Personally, I am at that point now. I really enjoy myself when I'm shopping for and making gifts for my friends and family, but I also get pretty disgusted by the materialism and greed that surrounds the holidays.
So, to wrap up my Horsetastic Holiday Gift Guide this year I thought I'd talk a little about charitable giving, both because a donation in someone's name to a great organization makes a super gift, but also because we can all appreciate a teeny bit less materialism and a teeny bit more love, compassion and generosity.
Here's a short list of organizations doing important work out there in the horse world, and they could really use our help:
1. The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation: giving ex-racehorses a second chance at life after their racing career is over. Adopt a horse, sponsor a horse, or simply donate money.
2. PATH International: started in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Assoc., they support and promote equine-assisted therapy programs all over Canada and the US. You can donate to PATH or find a local PATH-certified program in your area. Here at Sioux River we have the Reins of Inspiration program, and it's always in need of volunteers and donations to keep it running.
3. The Horse Fund: dedicated to ending horse slaughter for human consumption. Donations go to lobbying for equine protection laws at both state and federal levels and working with government and law enforcement to ensure neglect and abuse laws are upheld. Similarly, there is the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which was founded in 1979 by attorneys fighting on behalf of animals everywhere (not horse specific), and the ASPCA Equine Program which works to protect horses from slaughter and auctions, and prevent equine cruelty.
4. Return to Freedom: caring for over 400 formerly wild horses removed from their home ranges, and dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity, and habitat of America’s wild horses and burros through sanctuary, education, advocacy and conservation. Similarly, there is the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, which is devoted to preserving open land for horses and horse-related activities.
There are so many more, both on a local/state level and on the national/international level, so do your research and find one that speak to you. Wishing you and your horses a wonderful holiday!