MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — It’s not every day you get something in the mail from the Queen of England herself. Two years, ago Mobile native and director of Animal Wellness Action received this recognition for his work promoting human training of horses over methods that cause pain or what’s known as soring.

“To grant an award to a little guy from Mobile Alabama really validated so much of the work and sacrifices made to accomplish these goals for the horses,” said Mobile Native Marty Irby via a Zoom interview Sunday morning.

He’s the Executive Director of Animal Wellness Action. His connection to Queen Elizabeth II–American Cowboy Monty Roberts who was the Queen’s friend and horse trainer–Roberts asked Irby to write to the Queen about his efforts to end hurtful horse training.

“We all want to make sure horses are treated humanely and there are so many people that have issues and they don’t know necessarily they’re doing something wrong or abusing the horse they just need to be shown the right way and the path forward,” said Irby.

Irby describes his work as something that also took a toll on his life, losing friendships while bucking a trend in horse culture.

“Just that knowledge that the Queen knew my life’s story and what I’d been through validated so many things in my work,” said Irby. “I think she saw horses as icons the civilization we live in today was built on their backs she had a special love and bond with horses.”