NORTH SALEM, N.Y.--Sharon Kress, founder of North Salem’s Our Farm Equine Rescue, found a way to make a great opportunity even better. First, the organization was selected to be one of the main beneficiaries of the 2017 Victory Cup Farm Bash that was held Saturday, July 15, in Patterson. Then, with access to hundreds of equestrian lovers in one place, Kress partnered with the estate of famed equine artist Sam Savitt and sold artwork at the event, with part of the proceeds also supporting the rescue effort.
“We are very clear on our vision at Our Farm,” said Kress. “We have a great program and it all comes down to funding, which has been really difficult. It is incredible to have the support of the Victory Polo Cup organizers and of the Sam Savitt estate.”
Located at 261 Hardscrabble Road in North Salem, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization was founded in 2015. It rescues, rehabilitates and retrains at-risk horses facing neglect, abuse and possible slaughter and provides them with the best opportunity for a permanent home with a lifetime of love and safety.
Our Farm was selected as one of the nonprofits to benefit from the Victory Cup after one of the local event coordinators found out about the organization. It enabled the group to use a code to receive 60 percent of all sales tracked to that code. In addition to a portion of the money raised through ticket sales, Our Farm hosted a Meet the Players Dinner on the farm the night before the event.
Former state Sen. Greg Ball is one of the organizers of the Victory Cup event series, which includes the Farm Bash, through his company Black Stone Texas.
“The Victory Cup is a private, for-profit event,” said Ball. “We offer certain nonprofits the chance to raise a new donor base from the crowds that are here. We help them get their word out and sell tickets and keep a lion’s share of the proceeds. We are happy to partner with Our Farm Equine Rescue, which does phenomenal work for the four-legged souls that deserve better.”
Our Farm was also provided space to showcase its work at the Victory Cup event. Kress used that opportunity to team up with Roger Savitt, the overseer of the Sam Savitt estate, which supports its work. The two decided to sell some original artworks and limited edition prints at the Victory Cup with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Our Farm.
Sam Savitt, who was a North Salem resident from 1956 until his death in 2000, was an equine artist and illustrator of more than 100 books. He was the official illustrator of the United States Equestrian Team and a founding member of the American Academy of Equine Artists. Several horse charts he created are considered authoritative works and have been used by the Smithsonian Institution.
“My father was the only prominent artist the town ever had and definitely the most prominent equestrian artist anywhere,” said Roger Savitt. “The estate is now selling some original artwork as well as limited edition prints. Sharon came to me about this opportunity and I thought it was an incredible connection.”
Roger Savitt met Kress last September at the American Classic held at Old Salem Farm.
“Sharon is really devoted to horse rescue and I was looking to give away some of my father’s work to a charity,” said Savitt. “I gave her some pieces last year and she sold them and it gave a nice boost to the organization.”
Kress, who hopes the weekend’s efforts will raise several thousand dollars, will put the money raised toward Our Farm’s new S.T.A.R. initiative, which stands for Students Taking Action for Rescues.
“We had a few North Salem High School seniors as well as a senior student from Chappaqua do their senior internships with us,” said Kress. “Based on that, we started this program. We are pairing up students with a rescue. It will help us expedite the rehabilitation and transition of the horses to get them into well-suited homes and it gives the students who would not necessarily have an opportunity, to be with horses, not only to ride but (to learn) overall horse care. It is an initiative that we are very proud of. We are fundraising now to cover the costs of the teams we have. We have five rescues that will be teamed up with students. We started a little bit earlier this summer with two students, both North Salem residents. We are doing the pilot program of this during the summer, then we will officially launch the program in the fall.”
Our Farm can care for up to 25 horses at its Hardscrabble location, but Kress acknowledges finding funding is the hardest part.
“Financials are such a challenge,” Kress said. “Some people know we are around, (but) so many don’t or don’t understand what we are doing so we are always inviting people up to our farm on Hardscrabble Road and see it in person. We are hoping that now that we have a human component to this and will be working with the community kids that more people will know about what we are doing.”