Spotlight on Animal Heroes:
NYSHA Recognizes Susan Kayne – Founder of Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation
Humane Education often focuses on companion animals, but next to farm animals, equines are among the most abused and misunderstood. Susan Kayne’s passion for Humane Education concentrates in teaching others about the incomparable joy and enrichment that horses bring to the human experience.
Our recent conversation with Susan revealed her profound depth of appreciation for horses, “I have been in love with them for as long as I can remember. They are my friends, teachers, and companions. And I have been blessed to experience the intimacy of harmonious unity with horses as competitive partners.”
“To truly see and listen to a horse, as more than an object of envy or worship or desire, requires a recalibration in thinking,” she continued. “I believe that by wholeheartedly integrating hands-on time with horses into Humane Education that I can pioneer a new ethical perspective on how we value them.” Any of us who have spent time with these magnificent creatures could certainly agree.
The central focus of Susan’s mission in redefining how horses are valued is “in changing the narrative to distinguish between that of ‘what’ horses can do for us to shifting minds to consider ‘who’ horses are as fellow sentient beings. Contextualizing our evolving social relationship through Humane Education holds the key to seeing through the eyes of another – an orientation that does not come easily to us.”
“Susan has rescued horses throughout her life, a function she formalized in 2004 when she founded Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation to help transition retired racing and breeding horses into secondary lifestyles, protecting them from shipment to slaughter. Since its inception, in addition to saving, rehoming, and offering sanctuary to Thoroughbreds, she has expanded the impact of Unbridled through extensive mainstream media outreach, academic presentations, and public speaking.
Susan’s voice is strong as she explains that “every horse who we have redeemed from the Kill Pen has a story that must be made known. The suffering these horses endure in life and up until their last breath is much the same as in the century Anna Sewell penned Black Beauty. ”
In 2017, Susan earned her credentials as a Certified Humane Education Specialist through The Academy of Prosocial Learning. Why? “I wanted to learn how to create courses and curriculums to deepen our understanding of horses and to shift the moral compass toward that of appreciating them as autonomous, emotional fellow beings who are deserving of kindness, respect, compassion, and protection from harm. Horses are intelligent and sensitive. Humane Ed gives students permission to see the world through the eyes of another, and it offers the opportunity to reintroduce horses as a teaching resource to engage and empower the next generation to create a kinder future for equines and to embody positive change in the world from an entry point of compassion.”
Susan’s efforts have been recognized and rewarded. In July, she was invited to speak on “Protecting Thoroughbreds from Cruelty and Slaughter in North America” at the University of Oxford Summer School for Animal Ethics. Alongside the world’s foremost legal scholars and animal ethicists, she gave voice to the 10,000 to 20,000 thoroughbreds who are forced to die at slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico yearly. Traditionally, it is believed that horses bred into the Sport of Kings are revered and live out long lives in green pastures. This belief is reinforced when the media portrays “equine athletes” as adored, coddled, and pampered. Susan knows otherwise. “This is true for the likes of Justify, but for the other 20,000 thoroughbreds born in the same year, more than half will disappear across our borders. The betrayal of so many thousands of trusting horses who have willingly done all that has been asked of them and yet are sent away to a gruesome end is simply immoral and totally unjustifiable.”
Susan is a stellar example of how any of us can use our voice and respect for animals to make a big difference.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXXIII Fall 2018.