WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Steuart Pittman received the EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award at the Pegasus Awards Dinner on Jan. 10 during the US Equestrian Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The EQUUS Foundation and the United States Equestrian Federation established the Humanitarian Award in 2009 to honor a member of the equestrian world who has devoted considerable personal time to making the quality of life of our equine partners paramount.
Pittman has spent most of his career in the horse business and much of that with Thoroughbreds who had started their careers on the racetrack. As the eighth generation of his family to own and operate the 550-acre Dodon Farm in Davidsonville, Md., he made his living there as a breeder, trainer, and competitor in three-day eventing.
He recognized how valuable these Thoroughbred athletes were, even as they seemed to slip out of fashion in some circles. Rather than bemoan that trend, he set about changing it. With a group of friends, he founded the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) in 2010.
The aim was two-fold: first, to create a horse industry-based initiative to market the sporting and commercial value of ex-racehorses and, second, to provide educational resources for owners and trainers that would help those horses transition successfully into new careers.
"Today, the RRP has thousands of members and hundreds of thousands of social-media followers," said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President. The annual Thoroughbred Makeover draws some 600 trainers and Thoroughbreds fresh off the track for a 10-month retraining process, culminating in a $100,000 competition across 10 disciplines. The Makeover also offers educational opportunities, panel discussions, and a Thoroughbred market.
Demand for Thoroughbreds is up, their values are rising, and more ex-racehorses are finding good homes with equestrians, from the hunter jumper ring to working cattle ranches, from the cross-country course to the dressage arena, and beyond.
In accepting the award, Pittman said, "Receiving the Humanitarian Award is a huge honor because of the respect that I have for the work of EQUUS Foundation. Establishing the Retired Racehorse Project as a thriving national institution was the achievement that gave me the confidence to enter the political arena and confront challenges faced by our own herd. If we can shift market forces in the horse industry to train racehorses for second careers, maybe we can figure out how to train people for the careers of our modern economy! So, thank you to the horses, and thank you to EQUUS Foundation and USEF."
Like everything Pittman has done in his career, RRP was the result of people coming together with a shared vision. Compassion has always been a driving force behind Pittman's work, whether directed toward people or animals. With his leadership and abundant energy, he is now committed to making life better for the people in his community as the recently elected County Executive for Anne Arundel County in Maryland.
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