Equine Program Receives Heroes for Horses Award

The faculty, staff and students of the Equine Health Studies Program (EHSP) of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine (LSU-SVM) were recently nationally recognized for their efforts in assisting horses and horse owners during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) awarded the inaugural Heroes for Horses Award to both the EHSP of LSU-SVM and the Blue Devils Horse Platoon for their volunteer efforts in the rescue and care of horses affected by these two powerful hurricanes in Louisiana and Mississippi, respectively.


Dr. Rustin Moore, director of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine's Equine Health Studies Program (right), and Commission Warrant Officer (CW4) Richard Dyk (left) of the Blue Devils Horse Platoon accepted the USEF’s inaugural Heroes for Horses Award from USEF President David O' Connor on behalf of their programs..

Rustin Moore, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, director of the EHSP, represented LSU at the annual meeting of the USEF in Cincinnati, Ohio. "It is an incredible honor to receive this award on behalf of our team at LSU," said Moore. "Our efforts during this unprecedented season of hurricanes was basically an extension of what we strive to do everyday," Moore continued. "We simply work to provide the most complete care possible for the equine population and public service to horse owners, breeders, trainers, caretakers, and others involved in the equine industry in Louisiana and the surrounding region. It was our absolute privilege to serve in this role."

Moore continued, "Although the LSU-EHSP was instrumental in coordinating much of the rescue, we could not have accomplished what we did without the numerous dedicated volunteers, including private equine veterinarians, technicians, horsemen and women, and the many other people and companies who contributed time and effort as well as donated hay, feed, supplies and monetary support toward this enormous, complex, and unprecedented rescue effort. We are indebted to everyone who assisted us with the rescuing, sheltering, feeding, and caring for the horses affected by these hurricanes, and helping to re-unite them with their owners."

USEF President and Olympic Gold Medalist David O'Connor presented the award. "Our primary mission as athletes, as competitors, as members of the USEF, and as true horsemen and women, is the welfare of the horse," O'Connor said. "The Heroes for Horses award is one we've been in need of for a long time and will be given to those who demonstrate extreme commitment in protecting and supporting the welfare of the horse."

"It can be said that the true measure of a friend can be seen in one who stands by your side not only during the sunshine, but also during the rain," O'Connor continued. "While some use this as a figurative analogy, it can be applied literally for tonight's honorees. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, devastating horses and horses for miles around, these folks didn't have a second thought for themselves or their own safety. They thought instead of their helpless equine friends who were trapped in these harrowing conditions, some confined and unable to escape, others running free and terrified of their surroundings. Many were hungry, many injured, hundreds were homeless, and all were heartbroken. It is with full hearts, and absolute gratitude that we award the inaugural Heroes For Horses Awards to the Louisiana State University Equine Health Studies Program and the Blue Devils Horse Platoon, representing the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, and the U.S. Army National Guard."

The Blue Devils Horse Platoon is a volunteer element of the U.S. Army, under the guidance of the Army Ambassador, comprised of members of the Army Reserve and the Michigan National Guard. Its mission is to represent the United States Army, United States Army National Guard, and the United States Army Reserve as a mounted ceremonial and equestrian sport unit.

The USEF was instrumental in providing assistance to the equine communities of Louisiana and Mississippi following hurricanes Katrina and Rita through the establishment of a hotline for Mississippi horse owners and through their efforts in raising significant funds for numerous agencies working directly with the equine victims and refugees from hurricanes. The USEF hurricane fund is used to support efforts to deliver food, veterinary services, and shelter for horses and ponies in stricken areas. The USEF through their generous donors made substantial monetary contributions toward the equine rescue and recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.

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