Volunteers of the 2nd Company Governor's Horse Guard have been spending countless hours working hard to maintain the tradition of the Horse Guard's presence in Newtown, including at Sunday's Horse Show at Fairfield Hills.
“We have worked to raise $60,000 to keep the horse guard going,” said Cheryl Peatfield of Brookfield, who has been an active member of the Horse Guard for 12 years. “We will do what it takes to preserve 200 years of history.”
Sunday's horse show was an annual tradition and proceeds go to benefit the Friends of the Second Company. The Horse Guard troopers are all volunteers and last year, donated 28,000 hours, advocates said.
“That time was dedicated to training, polishing riding skills, taking care of the horses and organizing charity events, which included recreational riding for handicapped children,” said supporter Ken Fay.
After last month's announcement that the Second Company in Newtown might be consolidated with the First Company in Avon, legislators and residents have rallied to keep both Horse Guard units.
"These two units serve separate areas, and we serve Fairfield and New Haven counties, and all the way up the shoreline to Rhode Island,” Fay said. “We are all unpaid, and we have all been hit by the economy, but we put this fundraising into place and we are looking at becoming financially independent. Once we can make the payments they required, we will see if they will really let us stay or if there is another agenda. We need to let the public have a voice.”
According to Fay and other supporters, the public has already shown tremendous support.
“This is a place that has engendered a relationship with the horses, something to take the kids to. It's what makes Newtown charming.” said Carolyn Barney, her mother who grew up in Monroe and described her family as horse people.
Supporters said the tradition of the horse guard was an important one.
“I would like it to stay the way it is,” said Newtown resident Mya King. “It's nice to have some traditions. They had the Royal Wedding in England, the Horse Guard is our American tradition.”
King added, “This is something for residents of Newtown, it's beautiful, it's a landmark, and we are proud of it.”
While the Second Company may be allowed to stay in Newtown, there is a concern that they will have to put 10 horses out to auction.
"The hope is that if we can raise the funds we need, they will allow us to keep all 20 of our horses," said Fay. “You know, you give you life blood, sweat and tears to do all of this, and if we don't raise funds, these horses, they will go to auction. We have had some of these horses for 17, 20 years. They are older horses, do you know what will happen if they go to auction? They will be killed.”
Marleen Cafarelli has been photographing events for the horse guard for the last year.
“I have never met a kinder, warmer group of people in my whole life. These horses were rescued horses, and if all comes to pass,” Cafarelli said, her voice trailing as she shook her head. “And what will happen to this beautiful piece of property? There are at least seven miles of trails back in there.”
Involved with the Horse Guard since 2004, Christine McCormick of Newtown has spent the last week organizing and advocating for the horses and the land. She said supporters were "close" to reaching their fundraising goal.
“If we can save the horses, if we can save the land, the history, we can feel like we really accomplished something,” she said.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly spelled Christine McCormick's name. Organizers of the fundraising effort said they are "close" to reaching their fundraising goal. An earlier version of this article had a figure that was incorrect, McCormick said.