Category Archives: Bucket Fund Stories

ALL NON-PROFITS: THE EQUESTRIAN TRUST IS ACCEPTING PROPOSALS… In 2017, they granted $130,000!! If your programs fit the criteria, get your proposals in! Read on!

This Press Release was in my mailbox…  The USA EQUESTRIAN TRUST is asking for proposals for 2018.  Please forward this to all the equine non-profits that have programs similar or in kind with the programs awarded in 2017 – indicated below.



2018 Grant Application Deadline Is May 7

April 12, 2018 — Lexington, KY — USA Equestrian Trust® announced today it has awarded more than $130,000 in grants to help fund equine-focused projects at 12 non-profits. The organizations receiving funding all submitted applications as part of the Trust’s 2017 application period. Since the inception of its grants program, the Trust has awarded nearly $2.1 million in grants.

The Trust is also pleased to announce it is now accepting proposals from IRS-registered equine non-profit organizations for its 2018 grants program. To submit an application, visit and complete the online form. Any organization applying must submit copies of its IRS non-profit determination letter and most recent Form 990, as well as a proposed budget for its project. The deadline to submit applications for the foundation’s 2018 grants program is 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, May 7.

The Trust’s financial support has been dedicated largely but not exclusively for initiatives that are productive across several national-level discipline and/or breed boundaries. The Trust welcomes applications for need-based projects and encourages applicants to detail those in their applications.

The projects funded as part of the 2017 grants program were:

AMERICAN YOUTH HORSE COUNCIL ($5,000) to support its 2018 annual symposium that educates youth on all facets of the equine industry through demonstrations, presentations and discussions.

DRESSAGE4KIDS ($4,000) to support its 2018 Weekend Equestrian Program recently held in Connecticut. The educational event annually offers up to 60 presentations geared to people of all ages, disciplines and skill levels.

EQUINE ASSISTED TRANSITIONS ($8,000) to expand summer equine programs focused on members of the military and their families. Located near Fort Campbell, the organization has provided more than 400 individuals with an introduction to horses.

HOPE AND HEALING AT HILLENGLADE ($25,000) to expand its equine therapy programs for veterans, active military, and at-risk inner city women and children. The funding will help the organization finish facilities that will allow year-round work with up to 2,000 people.

OMAHA EQUESTRIAN FOUNDATION ($5,000) to fund educational workshops for riders, trainers and caregivers.

SACRAMENTO AREA HUNTER JUMPER ASSOCIATION ($5,000) to offer a free training clinic to its members, who are entry-level exhibitors and low-budget owners. The money for this grant was allocated from funding reserved for Hunter/Jumper activities in California and Nevada.

SECOND CHANCE THOROUGHBREDS ($1,200) to support an educational clinic focused on retraining Thoroughbreds.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY ($5,000) to support its equine science program. The program offers an introduction to horses to more than 500 elementary, middle and high school students annually.

THE LIVESTOCK CONSERVANCY ($10,500) to support its National Endangered Equine Summit that brought together leaders from around 50 associations representing endangered breeds.

UNITED STATES EQUESTRIAN FEDERATION ($40,000) to support the 2018 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team.

UNITED STATES SPORT HORSE BREEDERS ASSOCIATION ($2,000) to fund an educational booth to display at major equestrian events.

WILLIAM WOODS UNIVERSITY ($20,000) to support construction of the Center for Equine Medicine, which will house a fully equipped veterinary clinic, hospital-quality stalls, a small riding arena and a classroom with a teaching laboratory.

Funding available for USA Equestrian Trust grants includes around $30,000 reserved for Hunter and Jumper non-profit programs and activities in California and Nevada. Applicants for this fund should make clear their intention to apply for grants available from this specific reserve.

If you have any questions about applying, please e-mail

About USA Equestrian Trust
USA Equestrian Trust’s mission is to assist in preserving and/or enhancing the quality of equestrian sport in ?the United States of America. Its objects and purposes are exclusively charitable, educational and dedicated to the fostering of equestrian sports. The Trust is a private foundation pursuant to the United States Internal Revenue Code.

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Remember the horrific fire at San Luis Rey Downs last December? Here is a happy ending for burnt horse, Lovely Finish, and her trainer, Joe Herrick.

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It’s not always about smiles when Herrick sings, though. The darkened edges of his head and heart reserve time for the grieving, the pain being processed — still and maybe always — after losing six horses and nearly his own life when fire burned nearly a quarter of his body Dec. 7 at San Luis Rey Downs.

He grabs the mic again. The strains of the Gary Allan song, “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” slowly drift across the bar.

Life ain’t always beautiful

Sometimes it’s just plain hard

Life can knock you down

It can break your heart.

That Herrick and Lovely Finish are training at Del Mar racetrack and planning to race again signals a triumph of spirit over crushing sadness. The man and the filly who pulled each other from the flames forge ahead. They don’t forget.

But the struggles make you stronger

And the changes make you wise

And happiness has it’s own way

Of taking it’s own sweet time.

Herrick, 55, knows the lyric is coming — as sure as a train finds its way down the tracks. The words remind him of the horses lost and how profound connections between humans and the animals in their lives can become.

Herrick’s voice quiets, barely audible.

“It gets me every time,” he said.

And wish for just one minute

That I could see your pretty face …

When Herrick and Lovely Finish look at each other, they see the fading pink streaks and stubborn patches of flaky skin that show the fire’s lasting imprint. They see something else, too: There’s a shared purpose that willed them from a smoke-choked stall and back onto the track.

They see a road to the races. They see the winner’s circle.

They see, day after day after day, unwavering love.

Millions follow duo’s heartfelt journey

As Herrick stood next to the stall on the northwest edge of Del Mar’s Barn KK last week, Lovely Finish demonstrated her true talent … destroying any hat he wears.

The latest victim was Okuma fishing tackle, which was struggling to maintain its perch on Herrick’s head with failing electrical tape on the back strap. It slumped and slid off, like the one before it and the others to come.

The story of Herrick and his horse circled the globe, with a Union-Tribune video racking up more than 4.3 million views and 71,000 shares. She’s been adopted, from Escondido to England. A track worker stopped at the stall Tuesday to plant a smooth kiss on Lovely Finish’s salt-and-pepper nose.

“She’s probably the most kissed horse in the history of thoroughbred racing,” Herrick said.

Lovely Finish has lost the wide, raw patch that ran from cheek to left-front shoulder, but still mischievously targets hats through a glowing left eye Herrick calls “Las Vegas hangover red.” Hints of Herrick’s 12 days in a Hillcrest burn unit linger along his neck and up and down his arms and hands.

Herrick can make a fist, something the scar tissue refused to accommodate the first couple months after the Lilac Fire tore through the horse training facility near Bonsall.

When the pair of survivors ambled onto the Del Mar grounds a month ago last week, they found their footing together.

“She was real nervous when she got here,” Herrick recalled. “She was near death the last time she was here. She remembered where she was. When we put a rider on her, her ears went up. She was super happy to go to the track.”

The moment froze Herrick.

“It was sweet,” he said. “We survived …. and didn’t let it crush us.”

Lovely Finish trains a couple miles a day. She mostly jogs, but Herrick sometimes decides to ramp her up to a gallop on days when the energy and want-to sparkles in her eyes.

If plans cooperate, Herrick hopes to race Lovely Finish the week of Del Mar’s July 18 opener.

“It would be special to do it here,” he said.

The recovery extends in all directions. Herrick rejoined an adult soccer league at the Encinitas YMCA five weeks after the fire. The goalie recently played five games in six days. Lovely Finish is named after the English phrase for an artful goal.

Normalcy works without a time clock. Lessons require patience.

“I learned how strong I am, that’s for sure,” Herrick said. “I learned how strong God made me.”

A GoFundMe page operated by Santa Anita paid for about half of Herrick’s $25,000 in equipment losses. Another page started by a woman he’d never met steered another $6,100 his way.

Herrick marvels at the kindness of so many, including a dozen or so others who offered hard-to-find healing products that line one wall of his tight, tidy Del Mar office. He’s buoyed by a beautiful symphony of souls who chose to touch his in a world too quick to conflict.

To restart his racing life, the starting line represents true ground zero. The barn is comprised of just Herrick and his horse.

“She kind of likes that,” he said. “She doesn’t have any competition. She gets a little possessive and jealous. If I had another girlfriend, she’d kick me in the face.”

So each day, they train. Just like all the other horses and the people guiding them. Just like before.

“Getting back into a routine,” Herrick said, “has been great therapy for both of us.”

Herrick, horse continue ‘beautiful ride’

In the burn until, medical staff shaved Herrick’s head, eyebrows and mustache as they worked to reduce the swelling that made him unrecognizable. He ran his hand through what’s regrown this week, joking about the money he’s saved on haircuts.

A veterinarian told Herrick that Lovely Finish likely would lose the tips of her ears. They curled up, leaving a flatter edge across the top.

In the chaos of the fire, the filly lost a shoe that led to a bruise on the inside of the right front hoof. A patch protects the crack, which eventually will grow out. Other than that, Lovely Finish remains the horse who made a spirited debut just a month before the fire.

In the Nov. 5 race at Del Mar, she overcame the dreaded No. 1 post along the rail and a start that buried her 15 lengths back. The 17-to-1 long shot finished a hard-charging second.

The bond between Herrick and Lovely Finish attracted the cameras of ESPN. The network collected footage during an annual BBQ Herrick and others throw for Del Mar workers. Something’s scheduled to air when the pair races again, he said.

“There’s always little speed bumps in the road on the way to the racetrack,” Herrick reasoned. “You’ve got to roll with the punches in life.”

So, Gary Allan and Herrick sing …

No, life ain’t always beautiful

But I know I’ll be fine

Life ain’t always beautiful

But it’s a beautiful ride.


The Recovery

The Union-Tribune will provide periodic updates about the impacts of the Lilac Wildfire on San Luis Rey Downs. To suggest possible angles or to share information, contact sports columnist Bryce Miller at …

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