Horses could be making a return to Tilly Foster Farm after Putnam County originally decided against putting the large animals on the property when it reinvested in the farm several years ago.
Two Percheron horses could start galloping around the property later this year after the county Legislature’s physical services committee passed a resolution to the full meeting next month to expend funds for the horses.
Deputy highway commissioner John Tully said the two Percheron horses would present a unique opportunity for the farm, though the first year cost for the two horses would be close to $38,000 with the second year cost and every year after about half that total. The two horses would cost $5,000, according to a memo Tully sent the legislature prior to last week’s meeting.
Tully said the horses would be another way to draw more people to the farm.
“The horses will be an attraction that would really set us apart from some of the other farms,” Tully said. “They’re beautiful, majestic animals.”
Lou Albano, who is the caretaker on the farm and brother of Legislator Carl Albano, said the county would get a deal if the horses were purchased because the actual value of the two animals together is more than $14,000. Both horses are 10-years-old with a life expectancy around 25-30 years, Lou Albano said.
One reason the owner is willing to sell the horses is because his property where the horses currently reside is up for sale, Albano said.
Legislator Ginny Nacerino asked how these horses would be used by the general public. Albano replied, even though they are big, by nature Percheron horses have a calm demeanor and would do well around people. Many people don’t know about the different animals on the farm, but with the addition of the horses, more residents would notice the animals as they drive along Route 312.
The other animals on the farm currently are alpacas, chickens, pigs, mini horses and goats.
Hayrides for children and including the horses in other events like weddings are possibilities, Albano said.
“I think it would be a good thing for the community,” Albano said.
When asked by Legislator Nancy Montgomery what experience farm volunteer Lisa Walker and Albano have taking care of horses, Walker said her sister owns several horses that she is used to taking care of and Albano said his neighbors growing up had horses that he helped watch over.
Tully said county highway department and parks and recreation department officials are comfortable with the experience Walker and Albano have. The owner of the horses would also continue to support and train the horses for 18 months at the farm, Albano said.
When asked by Montgomery about a Master Plan for the farm, Tully said there isn’t a formal plan, but rather a vision statement compiled as a result of different forums and public input.
“Tilly Foster since the county acquired it has been through several different concept plans,” Tully said. “Nothing has been as successful as what has happened over the last several years, improving the infrastructure has really allowed us to start doing these things.”
Legislators overall seemed receptive to the idea of putting the money up for the two horses, though there was some skepticism.
Legislator Amy Sayegh said she believes the county could be taking on much more insurance liability with the addition of the horses and Legislator Joe Castellano asked if the horses on the farm don’t work, there is a contingency plan to remove the animals. Albano said the owner would be willing to take the horses back, but would not refund the money the county pays him. The horses could also be sold to someone else, Walker said.
Legislator Toni Addonizio said when there were public meetings about the future of the farm a few years ago, residents voiced they wanted to see horses on the farm.
“It’s a good time to go to the next step,” Carl Albano said.
“I think it’d be a huge draw,” Castellano said.