Today, on Giving Tuesday, we pause to contribute to charitable organizations that are meaningful to us. Keeping these groups in mind is important year-round, of course, but today is set apart on the calendar-right after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday-as a reminder to donate during this giving season.

Every person's heart is pulled a different way for their giving-as I said in my presentation to an equine studies capstone class at the University of Kentucky a few weeks ago, if everyone's heart was bent toward one cause alone, we'd live in a boring one-dimensional place.

If you’re looking for a place to make an impact, here are some options I’ve visited or worked with. Some are local to me here in Central Kentucky, while others are international organizations whose work I have seen in person at their facilities. And here are some others I’ve highlighted in the past

Central Kentucky Riding for Hope is a multifaceted program dedicated to enriching the community by improving the quality of life and the health of children and adults with special physical, cognitive, emotional. and social needs through therapeutic activities with the horse. http://www.ckrh.org/

The Donkey Sanctuary exists to transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules, and people worldwide through greater understanding, collaboration, and support, and by promoting lasting, mutually life-enhancing relationships. I visited their facility near Debre Zeit, Ethiopia, a few years ago, and Erica, our news editor, visited their facility in Sidmouth, England, in 2014 and wrote her award-winning Tale of Two Donkeys longform feature. https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/

Friends of the Lexington Mounted Police Inc. supports the horses and officers of the Lexington, Kentucky, mounted police unit and their outreach to mounted officers throughout North America with an annual National Mounted Police Colloquium. The Lexington mounted unit also offers a Civilian Equine Sensory Clinic where officers teach civilian horse/rider pairs the same techniques they use to help police horses adapt to the conditions of urban work. Happy and I participated in this clinic in October. Shawna, our brand manager, and I have volunteered and taught riding lessons to the officers on the unit. They are actually looking for a couple of new horses to add to the unit at the moment.
http://friendslexingtonmountedpolice.org/ 

Stephanie and “Happy” (second from left) and The Horse Brand Manager, Shawna and her horse “Chunder” (far right) with the mounted police at the 2016 Masterson Equestrian Trust (MET) Hunter Pace.

Photo: Stephanie L. Church/TheHorse.com

Kentucky Equine Humane Center's horses and other equids in need come to them from a variety of backgrounds. Some are surrendered by their owners and others have been rescued from abuse and neglect. Once healed and (re)schooled they are made available for adoption. The Horse team has spent a day volunteering at their facility in the past, and it's a well-run place with equids of all breeds, shapes, and sizes. http://www.kyehc.org/home.html

Maker's Mark Secretariat Center is a premier reschooling facility showcasing adoptable Thoroughbreds, and horses emerge from the program to become ambassadors for racehorses in new careers. I had my eye on a horse at the Secretariat Center before buying my off-track Thoroughbred privately from his racing owner. This is a beautiful facility that does good work. http://www.secretariatcenter.org/

Masterson Equestrian Trust (MET) Foundation supports a lovely multipurpose equestrian-friendly municipal park-Masterson Station Park, here in Lexington. It offers free access to all horse enthusiasts, regardless of discipline or experience level. The goal of MET is to ensure that this beautiful facility remains a valuable asset to the equestrian community. http://mastersonequestrian.org/

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program offers retiring racehorses a safe-haven, rehabilitation, and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes. Their new Lexington-based farm is just a few minutes from where I live and they are doing great things there. Happy and I have also participated in their all-Thoroughbred show. http://www.horseadoption.com/

Old Friends provides a dignified retirement to Thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have come to an end. The operators use education and tourism to promote these one-time celebrated horses and hope to raise awareness of all equids in need. https://www.oldfriendsequine.org/

SPANA believes that a life of work should never mean a life of suffering, and their mission is to improve the welfare of working animals in the world’s poorest communities. I visited their facility on the ground in Debre Zeit in 2013. https://spana.org/

Who do you support on Giving Tuesday?