New York Mets fans who arrive early to Sunday’s home game against the Miami Marlins may feel as if they’ve stepped into a John Wayne movie when they enter Mets Plaza.
Two wild mustangs will be standing in front of the entrance to Citi Field starting at 11:30 a.m. for the Mets’ second annual “Hooves on First” day. Once again, the franchise partnered up with the Seraphim12 Foundation, a nonprofit based in Locust Valley that advocates for America’s horses.
“Mustangs are as American as baseball,” said Seraphim12’s co-founder, Manda Kalimian, while referencing an act that the U.S. Congress passed in 1971 declaring that “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”
Kalimian, 52, who runs the foundation out of her Locust Valley home, grew up riding horses and has cared for rescued wild horses at her farm.
“No matter how bad your day was or what problems you have, when you’re around a horse, it changes everything for you,” she said.
The goal of Kalimian’s is to help preserve and protect America’s wild horses, which face issues of land loss and hay shortages. To help the animals, Seraphim12 provides financial support to rescue groups and emergency funding for “hay banks,” but it also works to educate the public so they too can become advocates for the horses.
Through events like “Hooves on First,” Kalimian said people can interact with horses and learn about the positive impacts the animals can have on their own well-being. The nonprofit also provides grants to educational programs that bring the message into schools, and works with the HorseTenders Mustang Foundation in New Hampshire, which will be supplying the mustangs for Sunday’s event.
HTMF runs a free therapeutic program for veterans and their families, using the wild horses to help them work through issues and make the adjustment from the battlefield to life back home.
Some veterans and students from the United States Military Academy at West Point will also be attending Sunday’s game, along with 250 inner city kids who received free tickets to the 1:10 p.m. game.
“Many of these kids have never been in presence of a live horse before,” Kalimian said.
The day will also include mustang-themed activities for children, including temporary tattoos stickers, and a surprise that Kalimian would not reveal. Everyone who purchases their tickets through www.mets.com/horse will also receive a free Seraphim12 T-shirt, and Seraphim12 will receive a portion of the ticket sales.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity and a dream come true to be able to reach out to so many people,” Kalimian said.
Then, quoting Winston Churchill, she added, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
For more information about the Seraphim12 Foundation, visit seraphim12foundation.org.