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Molly Sweeney Selected as the 2011 USEF/EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award Recipient

WESTPORT, CT – January 27, 2012 - Molly O’Neill Sweeney of Hockley, TX was honored as the 2011 recipient of The EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award presented by The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) on January 14, 2012 at the USEF Pegasus Awards Dinner during the Federation’s Annual Meeting in Cincinatti, Ohio.

The EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award is a celebration of the humanitarian achievements made by a member of the equestrian world. Specifically, the goal of this humanitarian honor is to spotlight and exalt the selfless dedication one individual or a group of individuals has made, whether on a regional or national scale. From improving the health and welfare of the horse to promoting and expanding the general public’s appreciation and respect of the diverse roles of horses, the recipient of this award will be someone who has devoted considerable personal time to making the lives and quality of life of our equine partners paramount.

Sweeney was selected by the USEF and EQUUS Foundation for her local and national-level volunteer work for over two decades in the equine assisted activities and therapies (EAA/T) field. A life-long horsewoman, Sweeney took horsemanship to a new level, beyond expertise in riding and handling, into a realm of caring, communing and healing.

Recognized as a visionary, Sweeney has dedicated her life to creating a world where EAA/T programs are available to all who would benefit from them, where medical and rehabilitation practitioners readily prescribe EAA/T programs, where equines are widely appreciated for their unique and remarkable attributes and where EAA/T programs receive third party reimbursement as well as generous, sustainable support.

As a long time volunteer and Past President of SIRE Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Houston, Texas, Sweeney witnessed the impact of EAA/T first hand. As a Board member of PATH International (formerly NARHA), Sweeney volunteered her expertise and wisdom to facilitate the growth and development of PATH’s Accreditation and Certification programs.

Active at both the local and national level, she recognized early that progress for EAA/T would depend on scientific research to substantiate the anecdotal evidence of the therapeutic benefits of equine based activities. With Sweeney leadership and determination, the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) was established in 2004. As a result of support from this internationally recognized foundation, controlled, rigorous research is now published in peer review journals.

“We are most pleased that Molly Sweeney has been selected to receive the Humanitarian Award for 2011 for her dedication and tireless work with equine assisted activities and therapies, and her leadership in establishing the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF)”, said Jenny Belknap Kees, Chairman of the Board of The EQUUS Foundation. “HHRF’s work on validating the influence of horses on human health will transform the value and purpose of equines in our culture.”

2011 Humanitarian Award Recipient

Photo: Left to Right: Molly Sweeney, Lynn Coakley, President, The EQUUS Foundation, Tricia Watkins and David O'Connor, President United States Equestrian Federation. Photo courtesy of USEF Archive, Geoff Bugbee.

About The EQUUS Foundation

The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of horses, advancing the use of horses to enrich the lives of people in need and educating the public about the horse’s unique ability to empower, teach and heal. What started as a local effort is now a nationwide campaign on behalf of horses. The Foundation accomplishes its mission by providing financial support to horse-related charities across the United States; connecting a network of equine organizations to equine enthusiasts; providing scholarships to reward volunteer service on behalf of horses, and conducting information outreach to educate the public about 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.

About The United States Equestrian Federation

Established in 1917, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), www.usef.org, is dedicated to uniting the equestrian community, honoring achievement, and serving as guardians of equestrian sport. The USEF promotes the safety and welfare of horses and riders while encouraging interest, participation and excellence at every competitive level and for all breed and discipline affiliates within the Federation family equally. The USEF is the only national organization dedicated to the promotion of the equestrian sport, fair competition and equine welfare regardless of breed or discipline.