This Month’s Question: How does the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund help to increase access and inclusion in equestrian sport?

In 2019, the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund (LMCF) expanded its mission statement to read:

The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund is a private philanthropic fund that prioritizes improving the lives of children with special needs; enabling access opportunities to educational experiences; and providing care, compassion, and protection to animals.

Every charitable organization wrestles with questions of breadth of giving vs. depth of giving. There is no secret formula and we’ve experimented in both directions. I have increasingly come to believe that our greatest opportunity to make a meaningful impact is to go deeper on what I perceive to be the largest opportunities for our sport. Access and inclusion are paramount to ensuring the future vitality of equestrian sport, and addressing those imperatives in our mission statement reflects my belief that this is the biggest opportunity to make a difference.

It is important to remember that our sport is not immune to prevailing world factors and conditions. As the income gap widens, are we doing enough to create affordable access opportunities for people to participate and grow with us? As our world becomes more globalized and diverse, are we supporting a culture of inclusion where everyone feels safe and welcome? With few exceptions, most of us fell in love with horses at a local level. Will these same opportunities be available for future generations? I do not deign to have all the answers, but I’m extremely interested in the conversation. The people who do have ideas about promoting access and inclusion are exactly the types of partners whom the Fund wants to support.

To help provide opportunities for more access and inclusion, LMCF has focused its charitable giving in three primary categories: show sponsorships; program partnerships; grants and scholarships.

Local and regional shows provide vital access as entry points to participation, so within show sponsorships, LMCF has integrated the addition of local days at the horse shows the Fund sponsors to allow more local riders to compete at nationally ranked shows. Some of the shows where we supported this programmatic expansion in 2019 were the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show, Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic, Brandywine and the Big 3 Virginia Horse Show Series.

For example, in working with the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show, we helped blend daily local classes into the recognized week of classes, and reduced ship-in fees for local competitors. This allowed more equestrians from the local community to have the opportunity to compete at this wonderful charity horse show.

A more individualized way that LMCF attempts to address inclusion for riders is though the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund Washington International Horse Show Equitation Scholarship. Now in its third year, the scholarship has continued to grow and help support participation for promising young riders who have qualified for the LMCF WIHS Equitation Finals in Washington, D.C. The scholarship covers all travel and housing fees for the rider and a parent, as well as many related show fees. In 2017, we awarded one scholarship; in 2018, we expanded to two scholarships; and this year, we are extremely excited to have awarded the scholarship to three very deserving and talented young riders.

We also sponsor the LMCF USHJA Emerging Athletes Program. This
nationwide program provides remarkable access opportunities for the riders who represent the future of the industry. Additionally, the Fund provides grants to numerous programs and initiatives that are perhaps not as widely known or supported.

For example, earlier this summer the director of a therapeutic equestrian program reached out to us because their newly-formed Special Olympics equestrian team had been invited to compete in the Georgia State Equestrian Games. This partnership was an extraordinary opportunity for the Fund to fulfill all its mission objectives.

Private partnerships play an increasingly important part in addressing opportunities surrounding access and inclusion. As the Fund continues to grow, I look forward to increasing the ways that we can make a positive impact on current and future equestrians.

It is my hope that the Fund and its activities serve as a source of inspiration for others with the opportunity and means to become similarly involved. There is an opportunity for all of us as equestrians – collectively and individually – to consider what we can do to support access and inclusion.

— Lindsay Maxwell, LCMF Founder

This article was featured in our Fall ’19 issue. Read the full issue online here: Horse & Style Magazine, Fall 2019.