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What does “Initiative” mean and how does it work?

by | Jan 2019 | Article

What does “Initiative” mean and how does it work?

When people first learn of The Right Horse Initiative (TRH), they often have questions about how it works. (If this is your first time learning about TRH, first visit our About Us page and watch the video to understand more.) The Right Horse is an initiative run by a nonprofit, but it is not a public charity (which is the traditional type of nonprofit that most people are familiar with) so it can take some explaining. The shortest way to describe TRH is a group of diverse people and organizations working together on one shared goal.

The Right Horse Initiative is 100% fully funded by The WaterShed Animal Fund (WAF), an entity within the Arnall Family Foundation, which is a private foundation. You can read more about the difference between a public charity and a private foundation on GuideStar’s website. WAF is dedicated to improving the lives of companion animals – dogs, cats and horses – and has an independent staff and strategic plan to work towards this goal.

WAF envisions:

  • A world that embraces positive and symbiotic relationships between humans and companion animals.
  • A world that celebrates compassion towards companion animals as a core human value.
  • A world that does not include suffering and needless death of companion animals.

You can read more about WAF at our website. Within the scope of WAF, The Right Horse Initiative is the public initiative that specifically addresses horse issues.

Here it becomes helpful to examine what an “initiative” is. The Cambridge Dictionary defines initiative as “a new attempt to achieve a goal or solve a problem, or a new method for doing this,” or “the ability to judge what needs to be done and take action, esp. without suggestion from other people.”

Specifically, our Initiative is a group of organizations with various backgrounds that do different things in their day to day operations but are all working together on one single issue: increasing horse adoption. We are solely focused on that goal because we believe it is the best way reduce the inhumane outcomes for horses including but not limited to abuse, neglect, starvation, and slaughter. TRH is made up of a very small group of core staff and our partners. Because TRH is an initiative and not a public charity, TRH is not governed by a traditional board that most people think of when they hear “nonprofit.” In this case, The Right Horse Initiative is funded by the WaterShed Animal Fund which is part of the Arnall Family Foundation. You can find more information about AFF’s staff and board on the WAF website.

By working with a network of partners, we can harness the power of diverse stakeholders. Our partners are described in two categories: adoption partners and industry partners. Adoption partners directly operate horse rescues and facilitate adoptions, for example, Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Maryland or Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society in Texas. Industry partners do not directly house or manage horses, but engage with TRH in other activities that help support and promote adoption. For example, we are working with the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) and Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) to explore ways to place adopted horses in riding lesson and therapeutic riding careers. If you are interested in what we look for in a partner, check back for an upcoming blog post about that process, and The Right Horse does not operate any equine facilities, house or manage horses, or facilitate adoptions ourselves. We do connect and empower organizations that engage in those activities and help them help more horses.

The Right Horse Initiative does several things, all with the clear, single goal of increasing horse adoptions.

First off, TRH supports collaboration between many different people in the horse world who can work together in creative ways to save equine lives. We explored perspectives from many of these horse advocates in the Stakeholder series of our blog, such as:

Second, TRH created and promotes a marketing effort aimed at increasing adoptions by showcasing the value of adoptable horses and convincing the general public to look to adoption when acquiring their next horse. We have gathered hundreds of happy adoption stories and use these joyful testimonies to inspire horse people to adopt a horse from a rescue.

Third, TRH invests in innovative programs that increase adoptions, grow capacity at horse rescues, and provide community resources to organizations that support horse owners in need. In the first two years of its existence, TRH awarded over $5.5 million in grant funding. You can read more about these programs here.

100% of the funding that supports the three different categories of efforts listed above comes from the WaterShed Animal Fund. TRH does not raise money, accept donations, or solicit sponsorships from any other organizations. We do encourage individuals interested in financially supporting our mission to consider donating to one of our adoption partners.

In the social sector (where many nonprofits operate), there is a type of strategy called Collective Impact that The Right Horse Initiative’s strategy closely follows. One of the hallmarks of Collective Impact is that “a core group of community leaders decided to abandon their individual agendas in favor of a collective approach to improving [a shared goal]” (you can read more about Collective Impact here). Past efforts to transform horse welfare have been hindered by division, negativity, and getting bogged down by points of disagreement rather than focusing on points of agreement. We know that the issues causing horses to fall at risk are many, and the problem is complicated. It will take the efforts of many people in many ways to make significant changes and save lives. That’s why the structure of The Right Horse Initiative was created the way it was: because we are confident that with innovation, positive conversations, and most of all collaboration, we can make a huge impact for the animals we all care for so deeply.

Questions about The Right Horse Initiative, WaterShed Animal Fund or Arnall Family Foundation? Feel free to reach out. We look forward to hearing from you.

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