Regardless of breed, horses often make some of the best subjects for artists across the world. As our Matt Hunter reports, here in the Capital Region, one photographer is using her work to raise funds and awareness for a local non-profit that rescues the animals from slaughter.
CHATHAM, NY – An accomplished photographer, Ellen Lynch's favorite subject is horses.
"They are beautiful and they touch that place in us that longs for freedom and wants to be just a little bit wild," said Lynch, who lives in Stuyvesant.
She was first introduced to the animals as a child growing up in Western New York.
"I have been in love with horses since I was probably knee-high to a pony," she said. “My hope in showing them is that people might feel my connection, my sense of wonder and awe of these mythical beings."
The president of the Equine Advocates sanctuary in Chatham, Susan Wagner was also moved by the animals at a young age.
"Little girls falling in love with horses is nothing new,” Wagner said Thursday. “This is something that happens I think to most little girls."
With a shared passion, the two women met a few years ago when Lynch began volunteering at Wagner's Columbia County sanctuary that's currently home to 80 horses from more than a dozen breeds.
"We only take in horses that have no one to speak for them,” Wagner said. “That includes horses who are slaughter bound, horses from animal cruelty cases."
According to the Equine Welfare Alliance, well over 100,000 American horses are shipped out of the country and legally slaughtered each year.
"Many of them are just thrown away in industry after industry,” Lynch.
After spending nine days capturing the images at Portuguese breeding farms in May, Lynch is using her latest exhibit to raise awareness and funds for Equine Advocates.
"These horses gave to me and it was sort of a way for me to give back,” Lynch said.
"I was blown away when I walked in here and saw these photographs,” Wagner said. “They are just so incredibly gorgeous."
From now through November 1st, Lynch's show "Equine Images Between Transcendent and Earthly Realms" is on display at Chatham's North River Gallery, which is also donating a portion of proceeds.
"It was beyond our wildest dreams that something like this could happen, particularly in Chatham," Wagner said.
For a lifelong horse lover, it's her way of playing a small part.
"That is my greatest hope,” Lynch said. “If I create an awareness and just one person, my work would be done."