Ponies, Pearls and a Donkey

by Nancy Johnson

Joanna Caldwell and Kate the donkey

The finals of a fast-paced 14-Goal Women’s Challenge Polo Tournament at New Bridge Polo Club on Friday, October 1, set the stage for Ponies & Pearls, a fundraising event for Brooke USA. Billed as a Women’s Empowerment Event, Ponies & Pearls drew a sizable crowd to the clubhouse lawn where they socialized with cocktails and watched the match taking place on Field One.

“We are thrilled with the response we received to ‘Ponies & Pearls,” said Katie Roth, who is the chair of the Aiken Advisory Council for Brooke USA. “The council worked very hard, and we are so proud we exceeded our expected attendance and fundraising goal for this first-time event.” Events like Ponies & Pearls help Brooke USA Foundation raise awareness and funds to continue its mission of significantly improving the health, welfare, and productivity of working horses, donkeys, mules and the people who depend on them for survival worldwide.

Joining guests watching the polo action from the clubhouse lawn was Brooke USA’s Equine Ambassador “Kate the Black Burro.” Kate has a job, although it may be a bit different than those performed by working donkeys, mules, and horses in many third world countries. Kate is a beer burro. Kate’s owner, Joanna Caldwell, said Kate got her start in public appearances in 2017 as a mascot for her twin sons’ high school polo team. Joanna soon began taking Kate to parties, and then learned about the beer burro trend, in which donkeys are used to bring drinks to party guests. Aided by saddle bags, Kate has been bartending at parties, weddings, corporate events, and polo matches for the past 10 years.

Joanna, who lives part time at New Bridge Polo Club, jumped at the opportunity to support Brooke USA with Kate. “Kate is a working equine,” she said with a smile, “And that is what Brooke represents globally. Plus, she is well cared for, which is one of Brooke’s goals — educating people in impoverished countries on how to care for their equines. The donkeys and other working equines are everything to people in Africa and other third world countries – their livelihoods and literally lives, depend on them.”

In addition to the entertainment provided by the polo match, the attendees enjoyed watching Kate serve an array of craft-infused tequila drinks created by 21 Seeds Tequila, a female-founded company. Silent auction items could be viewed and bid on throughout the afternoon.

Recently, Brooke USA launched a campaign to ban sales on Amazon of ejiao, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine and beauty products. Produced by boiling donkey hides, the demand for ejiao has led to tens of thousands of working donkeys being stolen and slaughtered in Asia an Africa. Learn more about Brooke USA, including how to voice your opinion to Amazon, by visiting the website, www.BrookeUSA.org