Canter For A Cause—A Young Rider Gives Back Through Riding

 

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We all know that there is more to horse showing than hoping you walk out of the ring with a smile on your face and blue ribbon in-hand. But for 15-year-old Sarah Hyde, a little more rides on her shoulders as she makes her way around the course—the up-and-coming rider is also an ambassador for JustWorld International, an organization participating in a global campaign against poverty.

Relatively new to the competitive side of our sport, Sarah has been riding for 10 years, but is only in her second year of showing and has big dreams for the future. With multiple finals under her belt including the Marshall and Sterling Children’s Medal and New England Equitation Championships, the Scituate, MA, native has had a successful year and aims to take her showing to the next level with her new horse, Algarve. “I’m looking forward to next year when I’ll start competing in the 3’6″ equitation and hunters,” says Hyde. “Although I’ve only been showing for a couple years, I have accomplished so much and love the lessons it has taught me.”

Ride For A Purpose
As if being a competitive equestrian isn’t stressful enough, Sarah has the task of spreading awareness of an organization that is using the horse industry to help others, JustWorld International. “JustWorld International is an organization all about giving back from the riding community,” explains Hyde. “They are committed to helping break the cycle of poverty in places like Guatemala, Cambodia, Colombia, and Honduras by setting up schools, mobile libraries, health clinics, medical supplies, and ways for people to express themselves and their culture.”

So what is it like to know that your hobby is doing much more than just making you happy? “It gives a whole new meaning and purpose to my riding,” says Hyde. “I know that I am not only helping myself but also helping others that are less fortunate than me.” The compassionate equestrian is not only grateful for the riding opportunities she has received, but the chance to use her love of horses for something bigger. “Because of these opportunities I am getting, I feel that my riding has a purpose, besides the obvious fun of it. It’s so amazing that just by doing what I love, I am able to make an impact on people all around the world. I know that every time I compete, or just ride at the barn, I am helping those who aren’t as lucky as I am.”

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Photo: Kimberly Hartford

Giving Back
As an ambassador of JustWorld, Sarah pledges to make an annual donation to the organization for their projects in addition to spreading awareness of the cause. But in a sport that seems to make money disappear, how does one find the additional funds to donate, let alone a competitive young rider? Horse showing, of course. While earning money in equitation classes is forbidden, it is common in the hunter and jumper rings for top-placing riders to take home a check. “I’ve donated show earnings, and some money from my savings,” says Hyde, who also wears a show coat embellished with the JustWorld colors—purple and blue—when in appropriate classes. “Mostly I am just spreading awareness and telling other people about JustWorld so that they can donate, too!”

When she isn’t winning ribbons or preparing for the next show, Sarah is living life as a normal high school sophomore. In her free time, Sarah volunteers and raises funds for other causes through her school and local businesses. “This upcoming summer I will be going to West Virginia with my school to help build and fix houses for those who cannot afford to for the Appalachian Service Project,” she says, noting the program that gathers volunteers to repair homes for low-income families. “I have also raised over $500 for a local horse rescue in the past and am an ambassador for The Vineyard Equestrian, a tack shop that makes and sells shirts to donate funds to the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.”

Get Involved
Think this all sounds inspiring, but a little overwhelming? Don’t be afraid to start small—you don’t have to save the world overnight. “I feel that if anyone has the opportunity to help others and give back, they should take it,” Sarah says, and we have to agree. From holding fundraisers to participating in a charity class at a show, there are numerous ways to get involved—riding related or not. “Volunteering is also a great option, whether at a horse show or at your local animal shelter, lots of places are always looking for volunteers,” adds Hyde. “You could hold fundraisers and donate the money to organizations of your choice; you could do something as simple as picking up trash at a horse show—whatever you can do to help makes a difference.”

If you’re looking to follow in Sarah’s footsteps and become an ambassador for JustWorld International or any organization, it is easy—start by doing some research. “Whether to donate, become an ambassador, or just check it out, I would recommend going to the organizations’ websites and reading about all their projects and people that they’ve helped,” suggests Hyde. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the contacts on the organizations’ websites and discuss your interest in helping out. “Never underestimate your capability of making a difference; even though it may seem you can’t do that much to help, you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

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Photo: Andrew Ryback

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