Left to Right: Gabriella Pizzolo, Jill Rappaport, Serena Marron, Valerie Angeli, and Kevin Santacroce Photo @ Marianne Barnett
What better way to start the 2023 Hampton Classic Horse Show than by focusing on the welfare of America’s horses in need of forever homes? The EQUUS Foundation partnered with the Hampton Classic to showcase adoptable horses on Sunday, August 27, during the Opening Day Ceremony in the Grand Prix Ring, and on Monday, August 28, for the annual Adoption event sponsored by Gotham Enterprizes and Georgina Bloomberg.
The Opening Day ceremony previewed the adoptable horses that would be participating the next day and featured popular actress, Gabriella Pizzolo of TV and Broadway; renowned animal welfare and adoption advocate, TV personality and best-selling author, Jill Rappaport; Serena Marron, EQUUS Foundation Advisory Council member; and Valerie Angeli, EQUUS Foundation VP Engagement.
The highlight was the presentation of a $4,000 check to the EQUUS Foundation from ConnectOne Bank, a new sponsor of the Hampton Classic. ConnectOne Bank’s Long Island Market President, Kevin Santacroce, said, “As ConnectOne Bank continues to grow on Long Island and serve the community, I am delighted to honor the EQUUS Foundation with this donation for their long-standing commitment to ensuring the welfare of America’s horses and fostering the horse-human bond.”
Equine Adoption Day
On August 28, Georgina Bloomberg and Jill Rappaport joined Valerie Angeli to emcee the annual Equine Adoption event. Participating EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities included Bergen County Horse Rescue, Rising Starr Horse Rescue, and Sunshine Horses.
Over 100 attendees were able to enjoy not only hands-on experiences with the adoptable horses but also learning experiences, including tours of the state-of-the-art HEART Horse Ambulance and a demonstration of blacksmithing and equine leg anatomy by Tim Fitzgerald of the Long Island University College of Veterinary Medicine. There was also interactive fun featuring Bouncy Horse Racing and Horseless Show Jumping. The Long Island University Equestrian Team volunteered in full force.
Christine Fitzgerald, Executive Director of The Rider’s Closet, was on hand to remind attendees that the donation trunk would be onsite all week. The Rider’s Closet, founded by Georgina Bloomberg and now an EQUUS Foundation program, makes equestrian sport more accessible to all riders to pursue their equestrian dreams.
How You Can Help
Angeli added, “If you can’t adopt a horse, you can still help by lending your voice. Join us as a #HorseProtector by taking the pledge here that you will be a friend and advocate for horses in need.” While no donation is required to take the #HorseProtector pledge, each individual who takes the pledge will have their own customized fundraising page to encourage donations from among their family, friends, and associates. Pledge takers who give or raise $100 or more starting now through August 31, 2024 will be entered into a drawing to win prizes donated by our HorseProtector Sponsors.
There were several adoptions at, and shortly after, the event as well as ongoing interest in all the horses that participated, as a direct result of exposure both in person at the event, and through word of mouth and social media.
A special highlight of the day was the adoption of the Mustang mare, Abracadabra, from Rising Starr Horse Rescue. “Abra, a victim of the government roundups to rid wild horses from public lands, is a symbol of the plight of all American wild horses who are fighting for their lives and who are now desperate for and dependent on new-found purposes once removed from their family herds and natural habitats,” said Angeli. Abra’s life had taken twists and turns for years since her removal from the wild, and this adoption was particularly emotional and triumphant.
Sunshine Horses educated and amazed spectators with their stunning off-track Standardbred horses who were looking for special homes after their harness racing careers had ended. “The stories these horses could tell – from racing, to auction, to almost shipping to slaughter, to being purchased to work as cart and buggy horses for years, only to be sent back to auction – will break your heart,” said Angeli. “The lucky ones find their way to rescue, rehab, rehoming and hope – but many will not. That’s why we are here today, to share their stories and to work together to make sure no horse winds up at risk.”
To learn more about the many horses available for adoption from our Guardian charities nationwide, please visit: equusfoundation.org/adopt.