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A Passion For Rescue

It’s not every day that you read about a chocolate brown mare being spared from a harsh reality. While it’s the dogs and cats we read about most in animal rescue stories, Plainview native and animal lover Andria McMaugh, shines light on the endangered horses of Long Island, and what is being done to help them.

McMaugh strapped on her riding boots at 10 years old. When she entered George Washington University as a freshman, McMaugh became a member of the school’s Equestrian team.

“Horses themselves are remarkable animals,” says McMaugh. “They are highly capable of causing us harm, but choose to trust us against all odds and in turn, we trust them with our lives every time we get in the saddle.”

After graduating college, McMaugh sought for a way to get back into the horse world of Long Island. In her search, McMaugh was contacted by her now friend Brittany Rostron, the founder and director of Project Sage Horse Rescue, a 501c3 non-profit company dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and finding homes for horses. McMaugh began taking lessons and working with many of the rescue horses on her own time, finally finding a way to combine her love of animals and passion for helping others.

“The horses from Project Sage for the most part, are either owner surrenders or are pulled from livestock auctions,” says McMaugh. “Owning a horse on Long Island is difficult because the expenses are so high, so Project Sage tries to help those who can no longer care for their horses and re-home them rather than see them end up at auctions or slaughtered for meat.”

Other animals involved in Project Sage come from livestock auctions in the surrounding geographical areas of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

McMaugh thoroughly enjoys her work with Project Sage, even when her responsibilities keep her extra busy.

“I was often responsible for the evaluation of our horses under saddle when they first came in, along with our director Brittany. I also helped around the farm feeding, doing chores and general care of the animals,” says McMaugh, who has also helped run summer camps and aid in the education of volunteers about equine care.

While Project Sage is a private facility for now, people can get involved by spreading awareness, or fundraising for the rescue, as the cost of running such a task is very high. McMaugh, along with others at Project Sage, often give talks at local libraries to raise awareness among youth.

“For the last three years, we have participated in the Hampton Classic’s ASPCA Adoption Day to spread awareness and help match horses with their forever homes,” says McMaugh. “With financial help, we can continue caring for the horses we currently have, as Project Sage relies completely on donations.”

McMaugh stresses the importance for the horse community to support rescue groups like Project Sage. Many of the horses under the care of Project Sage are ex-racehorses who have worked hard for owners and then find themselves in harm’s way at auctions. A fate that for McMaugh, is unacceptable.

“I am currently mom to my two, four-legged babies. My horse, Margarita, is an ex-race horse that I adopted from Project Sage Horse Rescue and my rabbit Sheila was also from Project Sage,” says McMaugh, who plans on continuing her work with animals in the future. She is currently pursuing a career as a wild animal keeper and intends to be a voice for animals.

“Project Sage has taught me so much about horses and life,” says McMaugh, who will be heading to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans this April as an intern with the primate team. It is her goal to apply everything she has learned at Project Sage to her new career as an animal keeper, always putting her furry friends first.

“It’s beautiful to see animals that were abused or neglected, learn to trust again and it’s amazing to see how so many of them don’t hold their past against you,” says McMaugh. “We as humans are so powerful, and we need to remember that many animals are at our mercy and they deserve to be respected. Every animal deserves a second chance.”

If you wish to make a donation to Project Sage Horse Rescue, visit the website at www.projectsagehorserescue.com.