Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding

Today’s honoree: Equine Liberation Foundation.

Horses running free after a visit from the Equine Liberation Foundation. Pixabay/Bhakti2/CC

Horses running in a natural setting at last after a visit from the Equine Liberation Foundation. Pixabay/Bhakti2/CC

The Equine Liberation Foundation (or ELF) is a Portland, Oregon-based 501(c)(3) registered non-profit devoted to improving the lives of equines all over the country. Its formal mission statement:

The Equine Liberation Foundation dedicates itself to the freedom of all equines, taking the highest law of nature into its own hands that all horses deserve to live as naturally as possible, free from the shackles of human interference and enslavement.

Since its inception in late 2015, the ELF estimates that it has set free nearly one thousand horses all across the United States. We caught up with ELF founder Natalie Booth to learn more about the organization and the good work it does in the horse world.

The Equine Liberation Foundation has a pretty unique goal among non-profits. Can you tell us more about how you got started?

Equine owners have been struggling to find ways to allow their horses to “live more naturally” for years. Barefoot shoeing, holistic treatments and the anti-blanketing movement have made big strides in the horse world but we felt there was a growing need for a more dramatic response to this building need. Horses are living in unnatural settings like inner city riding programs, suburban backyard “farms,” and even horrible places like show barns where they are overpampered and spoiled. They’re turned out wearing protective footwear — that’s just unacceptable. These animals are so far removed from the natural, wild lives they could be living.

I set my first horse free in the summer of 2015 — it was a pony living in a little backyard farm behind a house in a suburb of Portland. He had a box stall and was even wearing a halter. I removed a few panels of his fencing in the middle of the night, removed his halter and turned him loose to live as nature intended.

Not long after that, I found a few like-minded equestrians on a message forum and we realized that we could unite behind this common need. We filed for our charity status, set up branch units all around the country and got to work!

What kind of horses are you liberating?

We try not to discriminate: we’ve set loose everything from lesson horses to top-tier show barns. We even snuck onto a so-called “horse rescue” and freed their animals. Imagine it: these horses had been “saved” from sales or surrendered from owners to live out their lives in closely-monitored paddocks? What kind of life is that?

Do you operate with volunteer help?

Of course! We are heavily reliant on volunteers — there are volunteer-run chapters all over the United States and we are always accepting more members. We love our volunteers: without them, we could not continue to do the good work that we do for horses.

So where do the horses go when you’ve freed them?

They go wherever they like! They’re wild at that point — living the way they were designed to live, as nature intended. They can go to the mountains, or the prairies, or even to the beach if they like. No one is holding them back any more. They can live free and wild with the wind in their hair and no fences to stop them. And that’s all that we want in this life, isn’t it? Any horse lover worthy of the title wants to see these creatures running free and wild, populating the land from sea to shining sea.

Some of the beneficiaries of the Equine Liberation Foundation's good work, repopulating as nature intended. Pixabay/skeeze/CC

Some of the beneficiaries of the Equine Liberation Foundation’s good work, repopulating as nature intended. Pixabay/skeeze/CC

To learn more about the Equine Liberation Foundation, we encourage readers to check out the organization’s website and “like” them on Facebook.

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their good humor in allowing their weekly column to become a fun April Fool’s Day joke. We also thank Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.

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