Equestrian Jeweler Crafts for a Cause: Brooke USA

Friday, November 7, 2014
Posted by Holly Jacobson

The Brooke Charity marks its 80th Anniversary helping working horses, donkeys and mules in developing countries. Brooke USA opened in Lexington, KY in 2013.
The Brooke Charity marks its 80th Anniversary helping working horses, donkeys and mules in developing countries. Brooke USA opened in Lexington, KY in 2013.

“Art and horses have been my two main passions for as long as I can remember and they both make me feel connected to who I really am,” says Irene Greenberg whose stunning metal and fused glass work can be seen at the 2014 USDF National Dressage Finals, presented by Adequan, this week in Lexington, KY, November 6-9. Eye Gee Design designated this show as a Brooke Benefit, and 20% of all sales made at the show will be donated to the organization. Greenberg is sharing her trade fair booth with Brooke USA, which opened in Lexington, KY in 2013 to broaden outreach in North America for awareness, partnership and support. Based in Britain, the Brooke’s mission is to relieve the suffering of working horses, donkeys and mules in the poorest parts of the world by helping the people who depend on them to survive.

Founder Dorothy Brooke dedicated her life to the welfare of working horses and donkeys after a trip to Cairo, where she discovered thousands of horses that had served in World War I left behind in deplorable conditions. This year marks the charity's 80th anniversary.

The Brooke currently works in 11 countries including Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Nepal, Senegal, Jordan, and Guatemala, reaching more than 1.4 million animals last year alone, benefitting six million people who depend on them.
“It's an amazing organization,” says Greenberg. “The more I learn about them the more impressed I am. Our dressage horses have such wonderful lives. It seems to me anyone who cares about horses would want to know about their work, and do what they can to help promote their efforts.”

Cindy Rullman, the Brooke USA. representative, will be on hand to talk about the organization, history and current activities. Brooke has nearly 1,000 staff around the world that deliver direct veterinarian treatment, assist in natural disasters, run community education programs on animal husbandry and work with governments to promote better conditions for working animals.
Of interest to many horse lovers who travel, the Brooke seeks to improve conditions for animals used at tourist destinations such as a recent campaign at Petra, to educate and promote animal welfare.

Brooke USA, a 5013(c) charity, was established to identify American partners who have the heart and the means to invest in the Brooke's proven methods of making sustainable improvements in equine welfare. This is the latest in the partnership between Eye Gee Design and the Brooke. For the past year, visitors who come to Greenberg’s website via Brooke's site, have a percentage of their sales donated to the charity.

Horse Inspired from the Start
“No one in my family rode. There were no farms where I grew up,” says Irene but she clearly recalls riding the coin-operated horse outside the supermarket. Irene learned silversmithing in high school, became a licensed welder and then spent several years working in logging camps on the West Coast of Canada.

Her artistic endeavors spread to various mediums beyond traditional silverwork to leaded stained glass, print making, beadwork, calligraphy, sewing, quilting, crewel embroidery, knitting, drawing, painting, mosaics, upholstery, and mixed media collage.
The idea for Eye Gee Design was born, two years ago, when she discovered the new medium of silver clay. “What fired my imagination was the ease with which textures can be created compared to traditional silverwork techniques. At that moment, I saw the possibility of creating a line of equestrian jewelry that conveyed the horses' magnetic appeal,” she says.

Eye Gee Design offers one of kind handcrafted equine themed jewelry..
Eye Gee Design offers one of kind handcrafted equine themed jewelry.

Her pieces are all one of a kind or custom and she specifically sources all her chains from made in American companies. For Irene, dressage and making jewelry both inspire her with the expressive art and mechanics required, as one shapes the other, giving her a deep appreciation for what they bring to her life. “Riding dressage and the act of creating both put me in a meditative state of mind. During the 12 years when I owned a fundraising company in Toronto riding and creative pursuits were both essential to balancing the stress of my job.”

Horse as Living Art

Irene does not compete herself, rather she enjoys the incremental learning process and has trained with Canadian FEI rider Shannon Dueck since 2008.

Irene with Rigaudon, aka Tony.
Irene with Rigaudon, aka Tony.

Irene’s current horse, a 17.2 hand Hanoverian named Rigaudon, aka Tony, was a former Young Rider mount for Caroline Roffman who had imported him from Germany and won a Young Rider Individual Silver Medal on him at the Festival of Champions with Lars Petersen coaching.

Irene purchased him from Heidi Conlon in 2007 after seemingly ordained timing.
“Driving my previous horse to a retirement farm in VA, I got a phone call telling me Tony was for sale. I had looked horses in Germany, Ottawa, Chicago, Albquerque and Tony was living in the stall next to the horse I retired, right under my nose,” she marvels.
In her pursuit of continued learning and meeting fellow riders, Irene also handles the booking schedule for Arthur Kottas, the former First Chief Rider at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna when he travels to his New England clinics.

She lives in southeast New Hampshire with her husband, Brian, a white boxer named Leo, and just a few miles away from her beloved Rigaudon.

If you’re looking for unique hand crafted holiday gifts or something special to wear to commemorate your visit or ride at the show this week, stop by EyeGee Designs, and learn more about The Brooke’s good work helping equines around the world.