By Susan Kayne
For Capital Region Independent Media
In the quaint Greene County town of East Durham, a fine art photography exhibit is unfolding that speaks volumes about the majestic beauty and often turbulent lives of horses. As the columnist of this article and the curator of this exhibit, I have had the unique privilege of both narrating and shaping this visual odyssey, inviting you into a world where the equine spirit is celebrated in its most authentic and unbridled form.
On Feb. 1, 2024, a 36-piece collection of intimate and candid images of “The Horses of Unbridled” will debut at Five Furlongs Tavern. The exhibit is a profound testimony to the splendor, resilience and inimitable spirit of these noble animals.
At the core of the exhibition are the real stories of horses like Posey, a Thoroughbred mare officially known as Possession. Born on St. Patrick’s Day, Posey’s life, once valued at $2 million, saw her shuttling between continents for breeding. When she could no longer carry a foal, she was slated for slaughter. Ultimately, Unbridled saved her for a mere $200. Her rescue story, alongside those of Time for Angie, Touching My Toes, Creative Design, and Countess Claudia, racehorses at Unbridled who collectively earned over $1,000,000, highlight the untold stories behind the glamour of horse racing.
Time For Angie, born in California on Valentine’s Day, will celebrate her 13th birthday during the exhibit. Angie raced coast-to-coast winning 12 races and over $344,000. After her racing days, she was forgotten. Unbridled discovered Angie, and her best friend Toes, starving in a frozen pasture in February 2019. With nourishment, medical care and love, Angie and Toes gained over 700 pounds. They reclaimed their health and dignity. Today, they thrive in the loving embrace of Unbridled Sanctuary.
Angie and Toes aren’t merely survivors, they are beloved family members of Unbridled. Actively involved in education programs at the sanctuary, they illuminate the emotional world of horses and the profound bonds they forge. Their allure and joy radiate through captivating photographs, inspiring a new ethical perspective towards horses.
Through this curation, I sought to present photos that illuminate the sentience of each horse with whom we share the gift of life. Behind every image is a compelling tale of rescue, redemption, and the transformative power of love and care.
The horses showcased in the images are not mere subjects; they are intelligent and emotional with unique personalities and a spirit that yearns to be understood and cherished. Each photo was meticulously selected to capture the very essence of each equine, striving to convey their profound significance, granting viewers a glimpse into their soul.
In an impassioned quest, each shot was chosen to immerse viewers in the unrestrained delight of the horse, reveling in simply being alive. Their expressions radiate unadulterated charm and unbounded euphoria. For far too long, horses have been seen merely as tools for human use, judged solely by performance and utility. This exhibit seeks to challenge that perception, unveiling the layers of our true nature and understanding of these incredible animals.
The opening reception on Sunday, Feb. 4, offers a beautiful articulation of the personality, mind and emotion of horses. A collective of talented photographers, including Shari Benjamin Raymond, Mark Sullivan, Trish Bode, Ron Klein, Tonya Hughes, Sydney Spohler, John Quist and Holly Scism, have united their artistic visions to bring this exhibition to life. Their artistry weaves a tapestry of the true beauty of horses.
As for the venue, Five Furlongs Tavern, I can’t help but express my fondness for this establishment. Not only is it my favorite pub in the region, but its equine-centric theme and ambiance make it the perfect backdrop for our exhibition. The tavern’s patrons, many of whom are equine enthusiasts familiar with horse racing, are often unaware of the harsh realities that befall many Thoroughbreds post-racing. This exhibition, in the heart of an equine-loving community, serves as a crucial platform for advocating change and better protections for all horse breeds.
“The Horses of Unbridled” exhibit is more than just a display of art; it’s a powerful appeal for understanding and transformation. Open until Feb. 29, I encourage our community to come and experience the majesty, strength and elegance captured in these photographs, and perhaps take a piece of this inspiring story home. Each photograph is available for purchase, and the proceeds will directly support Unbridled’s ongoing efforts to rescue and protect horses and sustain senior and special needs horses in sanctuary.
Together, let us take a stand for these magnificent animals, to honor their stories and create a world where compassion and empathy extend not only to our fellow humans but also to all living beings. Let “The Horses of Unbridled” be the catalyst for a new era of understanding, appreciation and love for these incredible creatures that share our world.
Five Furlongs Tavern is open every day, with generous hours and daily lunch and dinner specials. located at 2478 Route 145 in East Durham, NY 12423.
Discover more at fivefurlong.com
Susan Kayne operates the horse rescue organization Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation, on the border of Albany County and Greenville.