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Planting the Seed – Uplifting the EWD Rider to Transform the Future

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Erin Boatwright and Mason Egan

By Delores Kuhlwein

“A single seed can turn into a forest. A single heart can transform a nation.”- Bryan Thao Worr.


Erin Shapiro Boatwright grew up observing great philanthropic examples in her young life from her parents and her grandparents.  “My grandmother always wanted intellectually disabled children to have safe places to swim, which my grandfather brought to fruition in our hometown natatorium many years after her passing. I may not have understood it at the time, but helping to improve the welfare of others can teach us valuable life lessons and bring so much joy to everyone,” she explains.

It made sense that Erin would instinctively begin to offer the same generosity within the horse industry, where her passion lay.

She says, “I started volunteering at therapeutic horseback riding centers when I lived in Atlanta and started sponsoring riders at the NSBA world show about five years ago.”

Though she met many great riders during her experiences, fate partnered her with Mason Egan each year at the NSBA World Championship Show, and Erin reveals watching him show and visiting with him and his sweet family is the highlight of her entire year.  “I’m so proud of how he’s developed as a rider.”

Scott, Erin and Graham Boatwright – photo by Ari Moshayedi

What happened along the way was the most important lesson, however.  “This group of riders helps me to remember what horse showing is all about. For many, it’s a career, but almost all of us started as the horse crazy kid and we have all used horses as therapy in one way or another.  We spend time with friends doing something that makes us happy, warms our hearts, and strengthens our bodies. In the craziness of horse show life, it is sometimes forgotten. I think I had forgotten until I started volunteering with EWD riders.”

As a result, she began looking for additional ways to support the EWD community as the years have gone by, she explains. “Last year at the Spring Breakout I shared with my desire to help grow the EWD classes at our shows with Meghan Tierney, and the rest fell into place.  She’s been an amazing partner in all of this. The show has always held great memories, as my family lives in Roanoke and I started showing in Lexington as a youth.”

Even though there are other outlets for EWD riders, Erin says having them show at AQHA and NSBA shows allows everyone involved to experience something new.

“The pure joy and sportsmanship are like nothing else and our common love for horses creates an amazing connection,” she says. “When we have a chance to sponsor or participate in these programs, it creates a sense of pride and buy-in and that’s where the magic happens.”

It’s also her wish to see the classes grow, she explains. “I’ve seen EWD classes pop up on more show bills, and I hope the show management and riding centers can partner to draw participation. I know NSBA is very focused on this and am excited to help with this in the future.”

For information on The Spring Breakout and the Virginia Maiden, April 16-20, 2024, in Lexington, Virginia, visit:

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