Wellington, Fla. – Nov. 16, 2017 – Steven Castillo can’t remember a life without horses. He dabbled in the jumpers and eventing then fell in love with dressage. Castillo, who hails from the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama, became a successful trainer, competitor, instructor and judge.
He carved out his career with what he describes as a mixed bag of horses. He remembers a range-bred Thoroughbred he bought for $200. “He bucked me off daily for two weeks,” Castillo said. “In the end, we consistently beat million-dollar horses.”
It was underdog horses like these that Castillo competed through the Prix St. Georges on the Florida circuit. With these partners, he won his USDF bronze and silver medals.
Castillo forged ahead after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. In the early years, he would not be deterred. His horses and students gave him a sense of purpose and the motivation to carry on. It wasn't easy and he found himself at death’s door several times. His love for his horses and his husband brought Castillo back from the brink again and again. "I've got horses depending on me,” he told himself, "I've got to get on with it."
His health was further complicated by chronic injuries earned from a career with horses. Eventually, Castillo’s health problems were career-ending. In addition to coping with his illnesses, he faced a sense of hopelessness.
"People used to send me their difficult horses to train,” he said. “Now I am only able to give one lesson a week. I get so depressed because I always expected to be able to work for my entire life."
After years of managing the virus, related illnesses and injuries, he contacted Equestrian Aid Foundation for help.
Equestrian Aid Foundation made a positive change in Castillo’s life by alleviating his concerns about medical and basic living expenses.
"Without Equestrian Aid Foundation, I would run short every month,” he said. “It relieves a lot of stress. It helps me heal and helps me from being depressed. All the support, kindness and generosity have been my biggest blessing."
About Equestrian Aid Foundation
- The Equestrian Aid Foundation® is a 501(c)(3) organization that assists people from all corners of the horse world who are coping with life-changing injury or illness and financial crisis. Since its inception 21 years ago, the Foundation has granted over $2.7 million in direct financial aid to equestrians facing adversity. Our needs-based support provides assistance with basic living and rehabilitative expenses to riders, trainers, farriers, grooms, horse farm owners and other equestrians who need a helping hand to get back on their feet. Equestrian Aid Foundation is one of only .5 percent of 1.8 million GuideStar-listed nonprofit organizations to achieve Gold Status. For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.