Hello, and welcome to the Fund for Horses and Int’l Fund for Horses. I am Vivian Grant Farrell, founding President. Here is a bit about myself.
Horses have influenced my entire life. I cannot remember a time when horses have not been a part of it.
My dad and uncle took me to my first horse race when I was about 9 months old at Haydock Park in Liverpool, England where I was born. My father took me around all day sitting on his shoulders. He said I was enraptured and never a moment’s trouble.
But my experience with horses goes back further than that. It goes back to the day I was brought home from the hospital a couple of days after I was born.
My dad carried me from the car — not into the house — but straight to the barn where the horses were. The horses were very curious about what was wrapped up in that little blanket.
Then he took me around to each horse in turn to let them gently blow their breath on me through their nostrils. My father said he prayed that I would have in some part the same spirit as these amazing creatures.
Growing up, we always had horses around. They are a lot of work to take care of so it’s all hands on deck. I began helping out with the horses mornings and evenings, mucking out as soon as I was able to handle a fork and barrow, changing their water, turning them out and bringing them in.
I took up riding at a very early age of course. Nothing could have been more natural. I never rode with tack until my early teens.
It was all Thoroughbreds when I was in England, and not until we moved to America that I met Quarter Horses. What a jolly breed they are. If they understand what you want and are even remotely capable of doing it, they will try.
Later when I married and lived in Texas, we boarded all sorts of horses and this was when I had my first experience with gaited horses, having the most wonderful Missouri Foxtrotter.
After I was widowed I left America and returned to England settling in the north. I had been a keen photographer since my teens and quite talented at it. I made good locally, and eventually was able to put my two great loves together — horses and photography — and developed a career beginning with local racecourses no further south than York.
My career blossomed, and I eventually moved south, relocating to racing HQ — Newmarket, Suffolk. I spent many happy years photographing some of the world’s most beautiful and talented horses on the flat and over the jumps in the UK and Europe. I was even lucky enough once to draw the coveted position at The Chair for the Aintree Grand National (I usually got the water jump!).
Years later saw my return to America with my second husband who was employed by a famous East coast Thoroughbred breeder and owner.
I began to witness things done to horses that greatly disturbed me and had not seen go on anywhere else I had worked or lived. I began to ask questions, to speak up. It is no exaggeration to say that this made me wildly unpopular to the point I was warned off on more than one occasion.
My husband felt very much the same way and ready to quit and return to the UK because he couldn’t handle it either. However, I could not follow him because I had too many animals who had to be quarantined. The cost was prohibitive, and I couldn’t bear to give even one of them up.
So I stayed behind, and back to my old stomping ground in Texas I went, with all my animals in tow.
Once settled there, I was shocked to learn that horses were being slaughtered in Texas for human consumption. I was stunned, angered and knew that I had to do something about it. That is how and when my advocacy for horses began — with that issue with an informal group called Texans for Horses. That was 2001 and I am still going strong today, working to end horse abuse at here and abroad.
If you love horses and want to help I invite you to get involved with us.
It doesn’t have to be anything big — although we would naturally love it if you are inspired to do big things. But this is what I have found over many years:
When a group of people get together and take the same steps at the same time towards good, big things — what some might even call miraculous things — begin to happen.
Our horses need as many of us as possible to be that group of people, however and whenever we can. No act of compassion is ever too small or goes unrewarded.
Thank you for stopping by and visiting with us.
For the Love of Horses,
10 December 2019