For the past decade, proceedings at Dressage At Devon’s Saturday night Grand Prix Freestyle have paused to honor Dr. Marty Simensen. Marty served as the USET Veterinarian for over 22 years and was widely known and loved for his commitment to his patients and the owners behind them. After his passing in 1996, the Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy was established to recognize others who bear Marty’s same spirit. Hilltop Farm and the Smiths of Marblehead, MA created this award to honor those in our equestrian community whose commitment to reach out and help sets them apart and inspires others to follow.
Last year at this time, we were still reeling in the aftermath of our nation’s biggest natural disaster. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had ravished our nation’s Gulf Coast, leaving millions of people and countless animals in critical distress. Tonight, we pause to remember and applaud the rescue efforts that helped minimize our losses. Dr. Rustin Moore of Louisiana State University stepped up and directed the largest equine rescue operation in our nation’s history. As the Director of the Equine Health Studies Program at LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Moore put tactical strategies in place to rescue over 500 horses and countless other animals abandoned in the wake of the storms. He gave the owners of these animals one of the only gifts possible at such a time—peace of mind that their beloved horses, dogs, cats, and other pets were safe and out of harm’s way.
Dr. Moore humbly acknowledges that he was only part of the solution. The USEF served as a critical communications link and gathered over $250,000 in direct aid funds. While the USEF channeled communications, supplies, and funds their way, Dr. Moore set up the 24-Hour LSU Horse Hurricane Helpline and directed his teams to spearhead rescue operations out in the trenches. The earliest efforts included the set up and provision of shelter at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center for horses that were evacuated prior to Hurricane Katrina. From there, the USEF and LSU hotlines fueled rescue efforts with news of stranded animals and worried owners. Dr. Moore established a network to relocate horses as needed and established distribution centers for critical tangible items like hay, feed, and supplies. Working with an incredibly dedicated group of countless volunteers, other local, private veterinarians, and a large team of staff and students from the Equine Health Studies Program at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, they worked round the clock to get out into the affected areas and rescue or attend to the many animals left behind. These teams also delivered humanitarian aid, such as food, water, supplies, and generators to some of the residents in hard-hit areas.
Dr. Moore’s leadership was vital to a community facing unprecedented devastation and chaos. His intellect, vision, and dedication led to the successful rescue and recovery of nearly one thousand animals. Dr. Moore will be honored at Dressage At Devon, September 30, 2006 as the 2006 recipient of the Dr. Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy. We acknowledge and applaud his efforts, his leadership, and his immense contribution to a vast community in great need.