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Bobby is freed by Peter Max

March 6, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA, For The Leader-Herald

I'm not usually a horse person, but the following story caught my eye on WTEN-TV news last week. Steve Ammerman was the morning anchor reporting on an unusual pet rescue.

It seems that a retired carriage horse from New York City named Bobby II Freedom was being sold for dogfood at a slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania when artist Peter Max found out about it and rescued the horse and brought it to a retirement home in Chatham, Columbia County.

Peter Max was someone I knew when I was working in New York City, so much so that he took me up to his art studio and I witnessed his art first hand. He also sketched my profile when I was working at a restaurant where he frequented. In 2006, when he visited Cleveland with an art show, my mother asked him if he remembered me. He said not only did he remember me, but he immediately sketched me from memory. I have the original sketch from 1986 and the one from 20 years later together on my wall above my computer.

Article Photos

A painting Peter Max made of the horse Bobby II Freedom.
Photo submitted

Max is best know for his pop art posters of The Beatles and the movie "Yellow Submarine," but he's painted many presidents and other celebrities as well as being the official artist for Super Bowls of the past.

According to news reports, "when he heard about the plight of aging New York City carriage horse, 15-year-old gelding Bobby II Freedom that was rescued from a slaughterhouse, he decided to give back. In a New York Daily News article by Samuel Goldsmith, Peter Max volunteered to paint a portrait of the horse and donate it to the Henry Street Settlement, a nonprofit social services organization in New York City. Henry Street targets people who are struggling to make ends meet."

"I have a history of saving animals, I started years ago with a cow," said Peter Max.

Max's first animal he saved was a cow that had escaped from a slaughterhouse in Ohio. When the cow was recovered, officials were set to return her to the slaughterhouse, but Max intervened and saved her.

"People have their cats and dogs and kids have rabbits, but I fell in love with a cow. It was like saving a child. The cow went to Farm Sanctuary upstate," he said.

The proceeds from the auction also will be split with Equine Advocates, a sanctuary for abused and condemned horses in Chatham.

The word from the horse sanctuary is that Bobby II Freedom is spending his retirement days sharing a pasture with seven other geldings and enjoying his freedom, according to

I should probably also mention that I'm not a "cow person," although Herman was raised on a dairy farm and owned horses as well.

This sounds like something the Peter Max I knew would do. Good for you Peter! I include a picture of the painting Max did of Bobby and a photo of Max in the '80s when I knew him.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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