The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®)  announced Thursday the five winners of the 2014 ASPCA Help a Horse Day Celebration contest, a nationwide grant competition for equine rescues and sanctuaries to raise awareness about the life-saving year-round work they do to care for at-risk horses.

The winning groups – each of which receive a $10,000 grant to support their efforts – are Begin Again Horse Rescue (New York), EARTHEART (California), Equine Outreach (Bend, Oregon), Mylestone Equine Rescue (New Jersey), and STAR Ranch (North Carolina).

“We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and creativity of the equine rescue groups participating in our Help a Horse Day Celebration contest,” said Jacque Schultz, senior director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. “The commitment to horse welfare from both the participating groups and their community supporters made it difficult to select only five winners.

"While there are so many deserving equine rescues across the country, we are thrilled to award a total of $50,000 to these winning rescue groups, who embody the spirit and hope behind the ASPCA’s Help a Horse Day.”

Contestants were judged on the creativity of their events, as well as their success engaging their local communities. The winning groups’ events included a town parade down main street featuring local elected officials, rescued horses and community members impacted by the equine group’s work, the creation of a “Pass It Forward” program encouraging community members to help their neighbors struggling to care for their horses, partnerships with local artists and businesses, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of Phase I of a barn raising. The rescues also worked to recruit new volunteers, expand their support base and collect donated supplies, as well as find permanent homes for adoptable horses.

More than 80 equine rescue groups held events across 32 states on April 26 – a date chosen for its significance to the ASPCA’s long history of horse protection. In 1866, ASPCA founder Henry Bergh stopped a cart driver from beating his horse, resulting in the first successful arrest for horse mistreatment on April 26 of that year. The protection of horses has been a core part of the ASPCA mission ever since, including legislation, advocacy, rescue and targeted grants.

In 2013 the ASPCA awarded $1.4 million in grants to support equine rescues and sanctuaries in 43 states and the District of Columbia. The grants were primarily awarded as part of the ASPCA Equine Fund, which provides life-saving resources – including financial help, in-person and online training, and sharing of best practices – to non-profit equine welfare organizations in the U.S.

For more information on the ASPCA’s efforts to protect horses, please visit http://www.aspca.org.

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.