Molly O’Neill will receive the 2011 EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award

Molly Sweeney
Photo courtesy the Sweeney family

Molly O’Neill Sweeney of Hockley, Texas, will be honored as the 2011 recipient of The EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award presented by The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). The presentation will take place on January 14, 2012 at the USEF Pegasus Awards Dinner during the Federation’s Annual Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The USEF/EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award is a celebration of the humanitarian achievements made by a member of the equestrian world. Specifically, the goal of this humanitarian honor is to spotlight and exalt the selfless dedication one individual or a group of individuals has made, whether on a regional or national scale. 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 will be someone who has devoted considerable personal time to making the lives and quality of life of our equine partners paramount.

Sweeney was selected by the USEF and EQUUS Foundation for her local and national-level volunteer work for over two decades in the equine assisted activities and therapies (EAA/T) field. A life-long horsewoman, Sweeney took horsemanship to a new level, beyond expertise in riding and handling, into a realm of caring, communing and healing.

Recognized as a visionary, Sweeney has dedicated her life to creating a world where EAA/T programs are available to all who would benefit from them, where medical and rehabilitation practitioners readily prescribe EAA/T programs, where equines are widely appreciated for their unique and remarkable attributes and where EAA/T programs receive third party reimbursement as well as generous, sustainable support.

As a long time volunteer and Past President of SIRE Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Houston, Texas, Sweeney witnessed the impact of EAA/T first hand. As a Board member of PATH International (formerly NARHA), Sweeney volunteered her expertise and wisdom to facilitate the growth and development of PATH’s Accreditation and Certification programs.

Active at both the local and national level, she recognized early that progress for EAA/T would depend on scientific research to substantiate the anecdotal evidence of the therapeutic benefits of equine based activities. With Sweeney’s leadership and determination, the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) was established in 2004. As a result of support from this internationally recognized foundation, controlled, rigorous research is now published in peer reviewed journals.

“We are most pleased that Molly Sweeney has been selected to receive the Humanitarian Award for 2011 for her dedication and tireless work with equine assisted activities and therapies, and her leadership in establishing the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF)” said Jenny Belknap Kees, Chairman of the Board of The EQUUS Foundation. “HHRF’s work on validating the influence of horses on human health will transform the value and purpose of equines in our culture.”



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