Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Horses and Hope: a visit to Project Sage Horse Rescue

Part 6 in Sarah Andrew's Horses and Hope series, an uplifting look at how the equine community helps local horses in need.
On the coldest day of 2011, after a substantial snowstorm, my friend Kris and I took a drive out to Northport, NY, past Aqueduct, past Belmont, all the way to Project Sage Horse Rescue. We were greeted by a group of lovely, cheerful, enthusiastic horse lovers who were bundled up in layers upon layers and ready to enjoy our photo shoot.
Founded in 2007 by then-16-year-old Brittany Rostron as a way to honor her dearly-departed rescue horse Sage, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization has since saved over 130 horses from slaughter and abuse.
Brittany and Sal
While many girls her age chased points at horse shows, Brittany grew up managing a staff of 75 volunteers and spending her time at horse auctions like New Holland, Unadilla, and Sugar Creek, bidding at meat prices on lucky horses who caught her eye, like Flint, pictured below.
Once we visited the clean, cozy barn, we trudged up a hill to set up for some liberty photos in the snow. The Project Sage volunteers did all the wrangling in the snow for the photo shoot with smiles on their faces, and our session was filled with laughter and good spirits.
Justice, from Camelot Auction
Whiskey and Tango, from New Holland
Harley, from New Holland
The blue-eyed ball of energy in the photo above is named Harley. A few weeks after his photo shoot, he charmed his way into being adopted by Georgina Bloomberg, ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador and a great friend to horses in need. An equestrian professional sponsored by Ariat, Bloomberg is also the daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Forbes ranked her as one of the 20 "Most Intriguing Billionaire Heiresses." Ms. Bloomberg, who certainly could have bought any horse she wanted, set a wonderful example by adopting from a rescue.  
Belle, Caitlin, Cadie, Sugar (horse), Brittany, Katie, Anna
 The scope of Project Sage Horse Rescue reaches far beyond the work done at auctions. The volunteers strive to educate the public about proper horse care, as well as equine welfare issues; you can find their educational booths at horse expos, and you can find the rescue horses at Project Sage strutting their stuff during demonstrations at the Hampton Classic. The Project Sage fundraisers are creative and effective, from iPad raffles, to an annual pasta nights, to Preakness parties, to Zumba parties, to arts and crafts made by kids in schools to raise hay money.  

When asked for advice to young women who want to get involved in the rescue world, Brittany had this to say:

"To other young girls, I always say no matter what anyone says, you can make a difference. It takes hard work and dedication but if you put your heart and soul into it, you can help horses in need. Everyone always told me I was too young to help horses in need, but I proved them wrong and worked hard to establish my horse rescue. Young girls are our horses' future, so I hope many more young people get involved with horse rescue and take the initiative to speak up for our horses."

With leaders like Brittany at the helm of the horse rescue world, the future looks bright indeed. 
Cadie, Flint (horse), and Brittany
In my 2013 Horses and Hope calendar, December features photos of horses and volunteers at Project Sage.

Horses and Hope 2013 Calendar
Last year, with the help of Gina Keesling of HoofPrints, my debut calendar contained over 100 photos of auction horses. Thanks to the support of horse lovers all over, it raised over $40,000 for One Horse At A Time, helping hundreds of horses in need directly, and untold others indirectly through increased public awareness. Now that we have one calendar's worth of experience to draw upon, the 2013 version promises to be even more exciting, even more creative, and as always, inspirational and positive.  

Please click on the links below to read read about the horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules in the calendar:
Sarah Andrew

Georgia's Story

Sunny's Story

Rosebud's Story

Tristan's Story

Mimi's Story

Electronic Press Release: 2013 Calendar

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