By Susan Kayne
For Capital Region Independent Media
As the curator of the highly anticipated “The Horses of Unbridled” exhibition in The Gallery at CITIOT in Catskill, I stand amidst the stunning collection of photos, feeling the weight of responsibility and the exhilaration of the profound impact these images will have on our community.
This exhibit delves into the allure and elation of horses that Unbridled has rescued from abuse, neglect and the American slaughter pipeline. Each magnificent equine being in the collection represents the thousands of untold stories of their brethren who have suffered a tragic fate — their lives extinguished in the slaughter pipeline.
The heart and soul of this exhibit is not only in the captivating photographs captured by the talented artists: Trish Bode, Ron Klein, Tonya Hughes, John Quist and Holly Scism, but also in Unbridled’s mission to inspire a new ethical perspective towards horses. Through this curation, I sought to present photographs that I feel illuminate the sentience of each horse as a fellow being with whom we share and enjoy the gift of life.
The horses featured here are not mere subjects; they are intelligent, emotional beings with unique personalities and a spirit that yearns to be understood and cherished. I selected each photograph to capture the very essence of these majestic creatures, striving to convey their powerful significance, granting viewers a glimpse into the very soul of the horse.
In an impassioned quest, I carefully chose each photograph to immerse viewers in the unrestrained perspective of the horse delighting in simply being alive. Their expressions radiate their raw beauty and the joy of being loved and appreciated shine through.
For far too long, horses have been seen merely as tools for human use, judged solely by their performance and utility. This exhibit seeks to challenge that perspective by endeavoring to convey their profound and thought-provoking significance and unravel the layers of perception that have obscured the true nature of these incredible animals.
With the Saratoga race meet in full swing and the Saratoga sales garnering millions of dollars in yearling sales this month, all eyes are on Thoroughbreds. Amid the glamorous and exciting racing world, one must acknowledge that these magnificent creatures have a natural lifespan of over 30 years. Yet, for many, with their “usefulness” commodified, when they break down or they are no longer able to produce, no matter their age, they are discarded into the slaughter pipeline.
The journey of “The Horses of Unbridled” showcases the heartbreaking reality that even horses with illustrious racing careers and successful breeding histories can find themselves cast aside like inanimate objects. Behind every image is a compelling tale of rescue, redemption, and the transformative power of love and care.
Many of the horses rescued by Unbridled have raced at Saratoga. They were thrown away directly from active participants in the racing and breeding industry. The real rescue stories of the horses in the exhibit challenge us all to confront the inherent contradictions in how we value and treat these majestic creatures — from celebrated champions to abandoned and abused souls pleading for their life.
As the weeks unfold, and visitors walk through the gallery, it is my hope that they will pause before each photograph, taking a moment to contemplate the stories behind the eyes that gaze back at them. It is my sincere wish that this exhibit will ignite a spark of empathy and understanding, leading people to reconsider their perspective on horses and all animals as fellow sentient beings.
“The Horses Of Unbridled” will run through Aug. 27, in The Gallery at CITIOT, at 404 Main St., Catskill, providing ample time for those who seek to be moved by the expressions of these majestic creatures. But this exhibition is more than just a display of captivating images; it is a call to action, urging all of us to see horses for the sentient, intelligent beings they truly are.
I encourage members of our community to visit the gallery, to lose themselves in the stories told through the lens, and to carry home a masterpiece of their own. Each photograph is available for purchase, and the proceeds will directly support Unbridled’s ongoing efforts to rescue and protect more horses from suffering.
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” exhibition be the catalyst for a new era of understanding, appreciation, and love for these incredible creatures with whom we share our world.
Susan Kayne operates the horse rescue organization Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation, on the border of Albany County and Greenville.