Written by: Barbara Anderson
Project SAGE (Save A Grateful Equine) Horse Rescue was started in 2007 by then 17 year old Brittany Rostron in memory of her beloved thoroughbred “Sage”, who was a rescue horse. It is a New York State certified and ASPCA recognized non-profit organization, as well as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, whose goal is to save as many horses as possible from slaughter and place them in new homes. Since its inception, it has saved more than 30 horses and found new loving homes for many of them.
In Brittany’s own words:
“I always dreamed of rescuing a horse from slaughter, but being just 17-years-old everyone said I could never do it. Well, about a year ago I started a program called “Project Sage” to help save a horse from the New Holland Horse Auction in Pennsylvania. I created this idea in memory of my late thoroughbred, Sage, who passed away two years ago. A year has gone by and “Project Sage” has become bigger than I could have ever imagined. Four beautiful horses were spared their lives over this past year and two of them have already found loving homes. I cannot even begin to explain the amazing feeling you get looking into an animal’s eyes after you have rescued them.
My goal is to spread the word about the slaughter industry and get more people involved and informed about this evil that is going on in the horse world. At the auction many horses are bought for the specific reason of being sent to other countries for food consumption. Our pets, champion jumpers, and race horses are being slaughtered. I believe I will help change this, one horse at a time.”
Brittany and other volunteers with Project Sage, travel to horse auctions and rescue horses from feedlots that would otherwise be shipped to Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption in other countries. All types of horses end up at these dumping grounds. Some are former racehorses who can no longer win at the track, or lesson or show horses past their prime. Others are just family pets whose owners can no longer afford to keep them, or who no longer care what happens to them.
Rescued horses are examined and treated by a veterinarian and farrier, and rehabilitated until their health is restored. Some require only time to rest and re-gain their proper weight. Others need more extensive help including surgery in some cases.
Once a horse is restored to good health, the effort begins to place the horse in a new and loving forever home. Adopters are not only screened prior to adoption, but volunteers continue to visit the horses’ new homes on an ongoing basis to make sure they are safe and being cared for properly. All horses are placed subject to a contract to ensure they will never again end up at an auction or feedlot. If an adoption does not work out for any reason, Project Sage will gladly take back the horse and try to place it in another home.
Project Sage also attends many public and private events in the community in an effort to educate both children and adults on the inhumane slaughter and abusive neglect of horses.
What is most remarkable about this organization is that Project Sage doesn’t have its own facility to house the rescued horses, nor does it have a large endowment or government funds to draw on. Instead it relies on a volunteer network of private and commercial barns, as well as other rescue groups in Pennsylvania and New England, to foster the rescued horses until they are ready to be adopted.
Funds for the first horse rescued came from money raised by volunteers selling $1 candy bars at train stations. Currently, Project Sage also raises funds by selling riding gloves, donated tack and other horse items, by holding Chinese auctions and fund raisers at various Long Island locations, even by holding garage sales. It also receives donations from merchants who give a percentage of their sales of selected items to Project Sage. And of course, like all other rescue organizations, they are especially grateful for all monetary donations, large or small.
Donations to “The Sage Fund” are used specifically to help the horses on the feedlot. Members of Project Sage usually visit the feedlot once or twice a month, and the money in this fund covers the initial costs of saving a horse. This is literally the last chance for many of these horses. Donations made in memory of a horse also go directly into the fund.
In addition to outright adoption, Project Sage offers other opportunities to help, such as horse sponsorship for those unable to save a horse on their own because of lack of time or property. A donation can be made to rescue a horse from the sale lot, and in return the sponsor gets to name the horse and receive updates on his/her rehabilitation and eventual adoption. The donor’s name also gets listed on the web site as the horse’s sponsor.
“Life Line” donors can help the rescued horse of their choice for the small amount of $1 per day. Many of the horses have to stay in rehabilitation longer than others before they are ready for adoption because they may need more time to rest or heal. This money helps to pay for any necessary vet and farrier work, food, medications, training, etc.
And of course, if anyone has some free time to spare, volunteers are always needed to help care for the horses by feeding, grooming, cleaning stalls and water buckets, and especially by giving loving attention to a formerly neglected horse.
Project Sage’s many success stories include Hannah, their first official rescue. With the help of Another Chance for Horses Rescue in Pennsylvania, Hannah was saved from the New Holland auction lot. She was adopted and is now enjoying her new life and promising career as a Hunter-Jumper.
Patriot, rescued and adopted in July 2008, will soon be a regular participant on the Long Island show circuit. Patriot and Hannah have literally gone from the slaughter pen to the show ring.
Then, there was Uno, a seven year old pony also rescued from New Holland. The kill buyers didn’t even want him, but instead laughed and made jokes about him. For $50, his life was saved. After spending time recovering at a farm in Pennsylvania, he was also placed in a new loving home.
Ginger, a mini, was rescued by Project Sage, and later adopted by a lady who had rescued two other mini horses that same week. All three minis were from the same broker lot and had most likely lived together before being sent to auction. Ginger and the other two minis are now reunited and living happily together again in their new home.
Dolly the mule, along with her horse companion Cassie, were also saved from the slaughter pen. Dolly has since found a new home in West Texas, while Cassie, a beautiful paint mare who loves to be with other horses, patiently waits for someone to adopt her as a companion horse.
Thanks to Project Sage, 30 year old Yankee and 24 year old Sandy now have forever homes where they will be loved and cared for, and can live out their remaining years in peace. And Promise, a mare who can never be ridden because of an old injury, will remain a permanent resident of Project Sage.
For more information on Project Sage, including pictures of horses available for adoption, please contact Brittany Rostron at “Sportie1030@aol.com” or visit Project Sage Horse Rescue at “www.projectsagehorserescue.org“.
Without a doubt, Project Sage Horse Rescue is well on the way to accomplishing its’ goal of saving horses “one horse at a time”.