When Brittany Rostron's horse, Sage, died in 2006, she tried to find a way to remember him. A year later, she devised a plan to immortalize her thoroughbred by creating Project Sage Horse Rescue -- a rescue, rehabilitation and adoption program.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Northport's historic Ketcham Farm Saturday, Project Sage's rescued horses finally had a barn to call home.
"It's a dream come true that it's gotten this far," said Rostron, 20, who cofounded Two Cousins' Farm with her cousin, Steven Katz, 40, of Malverne. "We're absolutely thrilled."
Two Cousins' opening marks the consolidation of Project Sage's former barn sites, dotted around Long Island. Housed on Northport's landmark farm, the 17-stall facility offers horse boarding, riding lessons, a HorseAround minicamp and special-needs program opening Aug. 16.
The camp will have two certified occupational therapists and hourly, daily, or weekly programs that can be tailored to a child's specific needs.
Joe Cuminale, 47, of Lindenhurst, brought his nephew Brett Geiger, 16, of Patchogue, to Saturday's opening after hearing a radio advertisement. "Anything that helps special-needs kids get a little bit more adapted to society, I love the idea," he said. "The fact that they're all rescued animals makes it that much more special."
Since Project Sage began in 2007, more than 40 horses have been rescued from auctions and kill dens, with 12 now housed at the farm. The nonprofit relies on fundraising and donations.
Anna Weigers, 14, of Northport, works at Two Cousins' Farm, but she also has a special tie to rescue animals. Chloe, a 5-year-old thoroughbred, first arrived at the Weigers' property in November after they agreed to foster her as a short-term pet when another barn owner could no longer care for her. By January, the Weigers had adopted her. "I wanted to help the rescue and I was looking at other horses to take," Weigers said. "Then we fell in love with her."
Northport Mayor George Doll, who helped cut the ribbon at the farm ceremony, owned a horse when his daughters were younger. Toby, a thoroughbred, now lives with Doll's daughter, Jennifer Doll, 31, in North Carolina. A Northport resident since 1954, Doll said he was glad to see the barn he's known for more than 50 years.
"A horse rescue program is wonderful because once horses get past their useful age a lot of people just discard them," he said as he shook his head. "And they're magnificent animals."