Pair honored with equestrian humanitarian award

John Long, Dr Mark Fitch, Dr Richard Tully, and Lynn Coakley.
John Long, Dr Mark Fitch, Dr Richard Tully, and Lynn Coakley. © Phelps Media Group

Two US veterinarians have been named the 2012 recipients of the Equus Foundation Humanitarian Award.

Dr Mark Fitch and Dr Richard Tully were presented with the awards at the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Pegasus Awards Dinner last month in Louisville, Kentucky.

The award is a celebration of the humanitarian achievements made by a member of the equestrian world. From improving the health and welfare of the horse to promoting and expanding the general public’s appreciation and respect of the diverse roles of horses, the recipient of this award has devoted considerable personal time to making the lives and quality of life of our equine partners paramount.

“A record number of nominations were received this year, but two rose to the top”, said Lynn Coakley, Equus Foundation President, who with John Long, USEF CEO, presented the award to Dr. Fitch and Dr. Tully.

In addition to the recognition of winning this prestigious award, the recipients receive a $5,000 grant from the EquusFoundation to be awarded to a horse-related charity of his or her choice. Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in Longmont, Colorado, and SMILES (Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills) of Darien, Wisconsin, will each receive a $5,000 grant.

Founded in 1980 with three horses, the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center (CTRC) is the oldest and largest therapeutic riding center in Colorado and one of the largest centers in the nation. CTRC now serves over 600 children and adults with a broad range of physical, cognitive, developmental, psychological and emotional needs – with a herd of 40 – all healthy and thriving – both physically and psychologically – thanks to Dr Fitch.

Since day one, Dr Fitch volunteered his time because he believed passionately in the power of the human-animal bond. He fully believes that the relationship between a horse and a child or adult with a disability can be a compelling healing force in the individual’s life.

Dr Richard Tully has also had a lasting impact on the special needs clients of the SMILES program, and on the equine industry through his role in the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) at the University of Wisconsin.

As a young vet, just joining his father’s practice, he visited the personal residence of Sherry Monty, founder of SMILES, to care for her horses. There he learned of her dream to partner horses with individuals with disabilities and joined an effort that has become a lifelong commitment of donating all the needed care to the SMILES horses.

Dr Tully is both an advocate for the SMILES mission and a champion for the needs and welfare of horses – helping to provide second chances to horses who can no longer continue in their previous careers and finding the perfect homes for those special horses who need to retire from therapeutic riding.

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