WESTPORT, Conn. — Two young New York volunteers will each receive an EQUUS Foundation $1,000 Champion of Equine Service Academic Scholarship to assist with the pursuit of undergraduate studies in appreciation of their volunteer service on behalf of horse welfare.

Lydia Savitt, who helps out at Access Equestrian, Inc. in Valhalla, N.Y. and Sarah Lloyd, a volunteer at Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, Inc. in Dover Plains N.Y. are among five award winners.

Lydia Savitt's experience with horses started at 5 years old, but it wasn't until years later that it became a passion. An animal lover and member of the Animal Activist Club at her high school, Savitt was much more interested in petting horses than doing any actual riding.

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That was until she started competing at a local barn as part of an Interscholastic Education Association (IEA) team where the focus was on hands-on horse care and camaraderie and where she was able to form bonds with the horses and her teammates.

Not long after, Savitt was diagnosed with scoliosis. Fearing that she would never ride again, she found the opposite true and started to understand the magic of therapeutic riding. "The core strength I gained was vital in my physical therapy, and the exercise helped me to feel more confident in my twisted body. Riding helped me to cope with scoliosis."

About a year and a half ago, Savitt learned that Access Equestrian, an adaptive riding school, was leasing out a section of her neighbor's private farm. She was thrilled to volunteer and have the opportunity to work with both kids and horses, just steps from her house.

"Access Equestrian is not work for me. Every single time that I am there I have fun, and that's why I am so incredibly happy to be a volunteer. Some days I just hack horses and do barn chores, and I am grateful to spend time with such magnificent creatures. Sometimes I spend hours-on-end helping kids, and it is the most fulfilling experience," said Savitt.

Sarah Lloyd is a senior in high school, a member of the school's Model UN Club, the Naval Junior ROTC and the marching band, and has ridden for over seven years. "My dream career would be centered around horses," said Lloyd. "They have shaped who I am today."

"My experience volunteering at Lucky Orphans helps me with this crazy journey called life," said Lloyd. "Whether you're making sure horses get fed when an unexpected rain storm hits or working on a school project alone, hard work, patience, adaptability and reliability build character as well as a sense of pride and self-worth."

"Sarah volunteers most Saturdays," said Deanna Mancuso, Lucky Orphans Executive Director. "She helps with both morning and afternoon feeding, mucking stalls, and turning out horses. She also greets visitors and assists with our Saturday Pony Pals Program. She is a joy, confident and kind, has excellent communication skills and is patient in training new volunteers. She cares deeply for the horses, as well as the other volunteers."

Ariat International sponsors the EQUUS Foundation's Champions program which is dedicated to inspiring and rewarding equine service and makes the scholarships possible. 

About EQUUS Foundation: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America's horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: 203-259-1550, E-Mail: mail@equusfoundation.org, Website: www.equusfoundation.org.

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