Incorporated for the express purpose of providing educational and competitive opportunities for youth riders and the adults who support them, Dressage4Kids also helps owners and professionals find a suitable job and home for older or younger dressage horses. Many years ago, in 1999 to be exact, Lendon saw a need she could fill in this country through her Dressage4Kids, Inc. The Dressage4Kids Horse Donation Program works to pair up horses with youth and adult riders. Over the years, almost a dozen horses have been donated to the Dressage4Kids program. Each horse continues to be a successful part of the many riders’ lives. There are a host of reasons a horse may have been donated, from not passing the vet during a sale to a rider moving on to a higher level dressage horse. Lendon matches up the horse with a correct rider, in turn giving the horse and a rider an opportunity.
Once a professional or owner contacts Lendon about a horse, she works to find a suitable rider, one that must look after the horse for the long-term. She determines the horses’ suitability, preferably with some dressage training and she makes sure the person chosen for the horse has a good coach or trainer. She will often checks up on the pair’s career and journey together.
Corie Bannon, from Michigan, and Champus 4, and 18 yr old Oldenburg gelding, have been together for two and a half years through the Dressage4Kids Horse Donation Program. Twenty three year old Bannon said, “I have had Champus for about two and a half years. When he arrived, I could tell he was super sweet and only wanted to please me. He had some trust issues that over time disappeared. The first time anyone got on his back he made it very clear that it was not going to be easy. He never did anything naughty that would have hurt me, he just went around with his head in the clouds with his back hollow. Forget about trying to bend him because he just wasn't going to do it. He was so stiff that when I did carrot stretches with him he still wouldn't bend.” She continued, “ It has been a long wonderful journey with Champus and now he goes around on the bit with his back up, bending both ways, most of the time. There is still a lot of work to be done but as Lendon says, ‘he looks like a normal horse now when he goes around.’ For anyone who knew Champus before this is a huge accomplishment and I'll take any compliment I can get. I had a lesson with Lendon last week and she’s really impressed. This past winter we showed in Intermediare I.” To conclude she said, “Thank you to Dressage4Kids and Lendon for what you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the organization and Lendon.” Corrie hopes to show Grand Prix with this wonderful horse that was not suitable for his previous owner.
Steps for the Dressage4Kids (D4K) Horse Donation Program:
- Contact Lendon by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- D4K will check the horse out. They will take all dressage levels, not only upper-level trained horses.
- D4K finds a suitable person for the horse and informs them that they must commit to being the long-time responsible care-taker for the horse’s long-term well-being.
- It’s up to the donating person to get the horse appraised for tax purposes. All proceeds are tax-deductible by the non-profit Dressage4Kids.
- D4K makes sure the horse is a suitable riding horse, one that can be a partner with a youth or suitable for a person connected to Dressage4Kids.
- If the rider grows out of the horse, the horse may not be returned, but D4K will try to find another suitable lease. On a rare occasion, the horse may be sold, with adherence to non-profit rules.
- The horses are leased long-term from the Dressage4Kids organization.
Dressage4Kids has had Grand Prix horses to three year olds and everything in between. Lendon said, “The only horses we can take must be useful, but they don’t have to be super fancy.” She spoke of one special horse, “D4K has had one horse, an Arabian mare trained to fourth level, go through three children to learn the levels, and now is on her fourth rider. It’s a wonderful situation for the horse and for the young riders.”
Dressage4Kids MISSION STATEMENT -To encourage riders under 21 to become true horsemen; to offer scholarships; to develop good sportsmanship; to support programs for adults who in turn educate youth; and to have fun.
For more information on the Dressage4Kids list of programs go to: www.Dressage4Kids.org