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IHSA Launches Service Awards Honoring Teams for Community Service

RELEASE: April 13, 2012

Gettysburg College Team Rewarded with U.S. Olympian Peter Leone Clinic April 17

Fairfield, CT - April 13, 2012 - What do Thoroughbred yearlings and college students have in common? Heart.

The story behind the first Community Service Project by an Equestrian Team to be recognized by the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association with an IHSA Service Award is all about heart, hope, and horsemanship.

The Gettysburg College IHSA team has been rallying behind a herd of young Thoroughbreds seized in January by the Adams County (PA) Society for the Protection of Animals (SPCA) after they were discovered abandoned to freeze or starve to death in a field. Eight have since been fostered out. The other 10, now yearlings, remain at the Adams County facility, under the loving volunteer care and handling of the Gettysburg College IHSA team.

“We discovered twenty-one horses still alive, and the body of one mare,” said Katie Carroll-Smith, SPCA president. “Sadly, two died and a third was euthanized, but we were able to rescue eighteen young horses.”

“The team has been helping with the yearlings. It’s been a very successful endeavor so far,” said Gettysburg IHSA coach, Janice Grooms.
“When we volunteer, we complete barn chores and help with handling, training, socializing the babies. This includes feed, water, mucking stalls, sweeping aisles, teaching them to lead, grooming, caring for wounds and rain rot, and teaching them to pick up their feet. We plan to continue until the court case has been resolved, and the babies have either been returned to their owners or find new homes,” said economics major, Julie Weisz (’12), who co-captains the Gettysburg IHSA team with Greer Luce.

The team has produced a YouTube video, Gettysburg College Equestrian Team Helps SPCA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHw-BrrMKYM) chronicling their volunteer work with the young horses.

“Every member who volunteers has a favorite,” said Luce (’13). “Mine is Summer, a chestnut with a big white blaze. She is always curious and has a mischievous side. Each yearling has a unique personality. Sneaky Pete can escape from just about any enclosure. Carrie is the biggest, the leader of the herd, and the most unpredictable. Jenny is the smallest and, I would say, the sweetest. One of my other favorites, Blaze, was adopted! It amazes me that someone could treat these horses so horribly. I am glad that our team has been able to help.

“The SPCA project has been great for our team. It has allowed our members to give back to the animals who have given us so much. It has been a team bonding experience and, along the same lines, has been great for our team to interact with the Gettysburg community, something our college stresses in general. This has inspired us to explore further activities. Therapeutic riding and charity fundraising are two things we are considering.”                        
In addition to the IHSA Service Award, the Gettysburg team will benefit from the expertise of another thoroughbred in the horse industry: 1996 U.S. Olympic Silver medalist in show jumping, Peter Leone, of Lionshare Farm, in Greenwich, CT. On April 17, Goucher College will host a flat and over fences clinic with Leone, an admirer of intercollegiate riding and its unique demands of competing on unfamiliar horses.

“It is the highest honor for me to recognize and support the young horseman who ‘dared and cared’ to make a difference,” said Leone. “The rescue and rehabilitation of these horses highlights the reason we do what we do – a lifelong commitment to horses.”

“We are very excited about the Peter Leone clinic,” said Luce. “He is an experienced and effective clinician who has a lot of advice to give. Working with someone of his caliber is an exceptional opportunity.”

“We are having two groups, six from Goucher (which is hosting the clinic) and six riders from Gettysburg,” said Goucher College coach and IHSA Zone 4, Region 1 president, Patte Zumbrun.