The Rider’s Closet: Helping Equestrians Pursue Their Horsemanship Dreams
Contributed by Christine Fitzgerald, Executive Director
The Rider's Closet, An EQUUS Foundation Program
For more than a decade, professional equestrian Georgina Bloomberg has shared her passion for horsemanship and philanthropy with as many riders as possible through The Rider’s Closet. Founded by Georgina in 2006, the charitable program provides riding attire free-of-charge to equestrians in need so they may pursue their horsemanship dreams at any age and all levels of the sport.
Initially created as an assistance program for scholastic riders who were unable to afford equestrian apparel, The Rider’s Closet has expanded over the years to serve a much more diverse community throughout the U.S. While high school and collegiate riders are still a significant percentage of the recipients, those served now also include pony and 4H clubs; therapeutic horsemanship participants, volunteers and staff; young equestrians heading off to camp; volunteers and staff working with equine charities; and a variety of individuals who ride or work with horses in other capacities. The common denominators are a desire to participate in horsemanship activities and a need for some assistance in getting the apparel required for participation. The Rider’s Closet is staffed by executive director Christine Fitzgerald, who manages a team of skilled and dedicated volunteers trained to assist in processing the ever-increasing volume of requests and donations from around the U.S.
“It’s incredibly important to me to give back to the sport I love most,” said Georgina. “My favorite way to accomplish that is to create opportunities for equestrians at all levels to pursue the horsemanship activities they enjoy. The Rider’s Closet has not only served thousands of deserving individuals over the years, it’s also initiated many wonderful partnerships among riders and equestrian organizations who want to join us in helping others follow their own passion and achieve their goals. We all spread the joy together, and everybody wins.”
“Riding has been the only thing my daughter feels she can do where no one can see her disabilities, so I’ve tried as hard as I can to keep her going. We only do one local show a year, and her trainer thankfully lets her work off her lessons. I’m so glad The Rider’s Closet exists!”
- M. P., Connecticut
The Rider’s Closet’s latest win-win collaboration is its recent merger with the EQUUS Foundation, the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between horses and people. At the core of its mission is that horses involved in any role and in any capacity—as athletes, companions, teachers and healers—are safe, healthy, and treated with dignity as partners. The EQUUS Foundation focuses its efforts on empowering equine charities to operate at the highest standards for horse care; inspiring horse lovers to become horse protectors by stimulating advocacy and volunteerism; and educating the public on the value of horses in our lives by sharing stories of their amazing achievements and contributions.
“Horses are a perpetual source of encouragement and inspiration, empowering people to venture with confidence into the greater world and to become all that they can be,” said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President. “We are committed to not only increasing adoptions of at-risk horses and providing a safe haven for aged horses, but also increasing opportunities for all people to engage and partner with horses in new innovative ways. We are thrilled to partner with The Rider’s Closet and very thankful to Georgina for selecting the EQUUS Foundation to help connect as many people as possible to the magic and power of horses.”
“Our two missions are beautifully aligned,” added Christine. “Everything we do together and through our individual program activities benefits both equestrians and horses in some way. The positive impact of our work within this community is amplified now that we are a team, and we are looking forward to the many possibilities ahead of us—for the love of horses AND for the people who partner with them.”
“Your package came today, and my daughter is thrilled. She had to try on an outfit and go riding. You definitely put a smile on that little girl’s face! It’s hard to find the words—it’s almost unbelievable what you guys do. Give these kids some inspiration and no doubt they will never forget.”
- A. C., New York
The Rider’s Closet team fills requests and ships packages to recipients within the U.S. at no charge. All of the program’s new and gently used inventory is donated by generous individual riders and retail partners. If you are thinking of donating gently used apparel, as long as your items can worn again with confidence by another rider, The Rider’s Closet is happy to accept them. The EQUUS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity, and all donations will be tax-deductible as allowed by law.
The Rider’s Closet accepts adult and children’s show/schooling shirts and breeches, show coats, boots and half chaps. For safety reasons, helmets cannot be accepted or provided at this time. A majority of the inventory is English riding attire, and the program is always most in need of adult and children’s paddock boots and tall boots. Visit equusfoundation.org/riderscloset for additional information about donating or requesting apparel, links to the request and donation forms, and a list of TRC Sponsors.