BY JESSICA GREGOIRE
Members of the equestrian community have decided to bring environmental awareness to this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington.
Last week, from Feb. 1-5, was “Green Week” at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Various events and activities were conducted to raise awareness about how the horse industry can be green friendly.
Eco-activist and equestrian industry consultant Mary Ann Simonds spearheads the Ride for a Green World campaign, which is a series of initiatives created to get the equestrian community following eco-friendly standards.
Simonds brought together eco-conscious companies and organizations Arenus, JustWorld International and Whole Foods Market to take part in the initiative locally.
Simonds formed these partnerships as a means to create a more sustainable environment through simple but life-changing steps. Creating a more sustainable environment in the equestrian community has been her mission for years.
“I’ve been working for a number of years in Wellington trying to give eco-friendly barn tips, from tips on alternatives to chemical fertilizer to how to compost your manure,” she explained.
Simonds has worked with other equestrian communities all over the country to provide best practices for sustainability. She is slowly beginning to work with Wellington to try to create sustainable measures within the equestrian community, from recycling to barn solar panels.
Right now Simonds is working with Clark County, Wash., to adopt sustainable practices in its equestrian community.
“I have been going back and forth from Clark County to Wellington, saying, ‘Well, look what Wellington is doing and look what Clark County is doing, and it works,’” she said. “I try to look for good examples and share them.”
Trying to get people to start thinking about how the things they are doing with their horse are interconnected with the environment is long overdue, Simonds said. “Putting those together and having a healthy environment for horses and a healthy environment for people is a whole systems approach that has to be done,” she said. “People need to know that whatever their horse eats must be free from chemicals, because when it comes out, the manure can be harmful, not only to the horse, but to humans.”
Simonds has been building collaborations among organizations and businesses to attract other public, private and governmental entities to join in the eco-friendly efforts.
“They are looking at best management practices,” she said. “Their big concern is to let people know that what goes into your horse comes out, and where does it go? They don’t want it to contaminate the waters.”
Simonds has built support and partnerships with businesses and organizations, which coincide with the mission of eco-sustainability. “It’s a collaborative effort, and we can’t do this alone,” she said. “We want people and businesses who want to help create a healthier, more environmentally sustainable community.”
Arenus, an animal health and nutritional products company, joined the Ride for a Green World campaign because it aligns with its mission, said Business Manager Dr. Jay Altman. “Our parent company, Novus International, has had a mission to feed the world for the last 20 years, and sustainability has been a part of that mission,” he said. “Creating a green world is part of what we do as a company, so being a part of this was a very natural fit.”
Arenus has been leading the way in sustainability in the State of Missouri.
“We are one of four platinum LEED-certified buildings, and we have the largest solar panel in the state,” Arenus representative Stephanie Morris said.
Altman believes that creating awareness for eco-friendly standards is especially important in the equestrian community. “I don’t think we have even touched the surface in the area of manure removal and disposal,” he said. “There are some new technologies out there that we should be using that could really help us and the environment.”
Simonds is hoping that not only communities get involved in environmentally sustainable standards, but large companies and small business as well. By having companies adopt eco-friendly practices as Arenus did, it will aid in creation of a sustainable community, she said.
Whole Foods Market has joined the initiative because some of its core values, community support and the environment, are demonstrated in the initiative.
Whole Foods Market Community Relations Specialist Lauren Belinsky has been passing out organic carrots for feeding horses, as part of the campaign. “This is a perfect connection, where we are supporting our local equestrian community and at the same time working with them to make it as green as possible,” Belinsky said.
Through the Ride for a Green World campaign, Simonds and partners have been putting up fliers with eco-friendly barn tips, giving people literature and informing them about its web site, www.arenus.com/communities/rideforagreenworld.
“It’s all about education more than anything, and that’s why we are here doing this,” she said.
Simonds wants to begin changing things on a micro level, with the placement of recycle bins at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
“We are at the front end with our own little recycle bin, so that at least here, people are seeing it’s obvious to recycle,” she said. “We want there to be more of a presence here at the show grounds with recycle bins. We don’t have control of that, but they are aware of what we are doing, so they might be coming up with another system.”