COXSACKIE — A local horse rescue organization was selected from thousands of nominations as a finalist in a national contest.

Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation, 1700 Farm to Market Road, Coxsackie, was one of 25 rescue organizations from around the country to be chosen in the Tractor Supply Rescue Your Rescue competition’s final round. Eight will be chosen from the final 25 for the top prize.

The contest was open to humane societies; dog, cat, equine, small animal and mixed rescues; animal sanctuaries; wildlife sanctuaries and similar organizations, according to the contest rules.

“Thousands of nominations were submitted from multi-species rescues and sanctuaries,” Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation founder Susan Kayne said. “Unbridled made the cut to the top finalists, which is quite an honor unto itself.”

The top eight vote-getters in the final round will each receive a $25,000 prize.

Kayne first learned of the competition from a local Tractor Supply store in Greenville.

Unbridled was also selected in August as the top Horse Rescue/Sanctuary of the Year for 2021 by the Equis Save Foundation. Kayne is hoping to continue the rescue group’s winning streak.

The group was nominated for the Rescue Your Rescue competition by volunteers and supporters who wrote to the contest with their personal photos and stories from Unbridled.

“This being our most visible year, many people have really witnessed not only our life-saving work, but the transformation of the horses in our care, so quite a few people indicated they had written in and shared our work with individual horses and rescues,” Kayne said. “The nominations included a little story and then Tractor Supply selected the top 25 finalists and highlighted a story from each finalist.”

Unbridled volunteer Janet Kennedy Kash’s nomination story was selected for the contest website.

“This is such an extraordinary group. They have saved hundreds of retired race horses over the years and have brought them to sanctuary and tried to adopt them out if they are horses that are good to adopt out,” Kash said. “Older horses that need sanctuary, they take such wonderful care of them. It’s such an amazing organization.”

The story Kash submitted was about her first kiss with a rescue horse living at Unbridled, named Lucky, and how it changed her view of thoroughbreds.

“Lucky is a horse we rescued after she was relegated for meat and to go to slaughter,” Kayne said. “We rescued her in January 2018 and she has been with us ever since.”

Lucky, a permanent resident at the Coxsackie sanctuary, is a 19-year-old retired race horse that earned $117,510 during her years on the racetrack, Kayne said.

All finalists in the contest had to specify how they would use the $25,000 grant if they win.

“The money would go to expand on our current site to add a few extra stalls and some dedicated storage space for hay, bedding and grain,” Kayne said. “The current barn does not have dedicated space for hay, bedding and grain, and that is our biggest storage need. It would allow us to buy in bulk, which would be an economic boost for us.”

Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation rescues about 25 horses each year, and networks and places more horses at other rescues around the nation, Kayne said.

“I have dedicated 100% of my life to Unbridled,” Kayne said. “It is my life’s work to protect horses from exploitation and slaughter, and to continue to advocate through legislation, education and hands-on engagement to create a kinder and most just world for horses where they are safe from slaughter when their days of usefulness are done.”

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