Hello, and welcome to the website of The Horse Fund and the Int'l Fund for Horses. I am Vivian Grant Farrell, our 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 not far from where I was born. I rode around all day on my father's shoulders full of glee. He said I was never a moment's trouble.
But my experience with horses goes back even further than that. It goes back to the day I was brought home from the hospital a few days after I was born.
My dad carried me from the car — not into the house — but straight to the barn where the horses seemed to be waiting for us. The horses were very curious about what was 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. He said he prayed that I would have in some part the same spirit as these amazing animals he adored so much.
Because we always had horses around, I began helping out with them mornings and evenings, mucking out as soon as I was able to handle a fork and a barrow.
I took up riding at a very early age of course. Nothing could have been more natural. I never rode with any tack until my early teens.
It was all Thoroughbreds when I was in England, and not until we came to America that I met a Quarter Horse. What a jolly breed they are. And if they are remotely capable of doing what you ask them, they will try to do it.
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 a gorgeous Missouri Foxtrotter resident with us.
Later, after I was widowed I left America to return to England and settled in the north. I took up work as a photographer at the local racecourses travelling no further south than York. But my career blossomed, and I eventually relocated to racing headquarters, Newmarket, Suffolk, and 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 a 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 worked for a breeder/owner who raced Thoroughbreds.
I began to witness things done to horses that greatly disturbed me that I 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.
My husband was ready to quit anyway and return to Ireland because he couldn't handle what he saw or what he was asked to do. But I could not follow him because I had too many animals who would have to be quarantined and I couldn't bear to give even one of them up. And couldn't afford to keep them in quarantine for the required 6 months (at that time).
So back to my old stomping ground in Texas I went.
Shortly after I arrived, I was shocked to learn that horses were being slaughtered there for their meat for human consumption.
From here you can pick up the rest of the story of how I got involved in horse advocacy in Part 1 of this section.
If you love horses and are grateful for them, we invite you to find a way to get involved.
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 take the same steps together at the same time towards good, big things — what some might even call miraculous — happen.
And our horses need you to be one of those people, however and whenever you can. No act of compassion is ever too small and never goes unrewarded.
Thank you for stopping by and visiting with us.
For the Love of Horses,