Hope in the Saddle recently announced the winner and runners-up of the third annual Therapy Horse of the Year award to shine a spotlight on the tremendous healing power of horses.
The Therapy Horse of the Year award is a national contest hosted by Hope in the Saddle, along with sponsors Nutrena and Tractor Supply Company, to acknowledge the special skills, selfless contributions and incomparable work of therapy horses.
Selected from more than 210 entries, Princess Xellie, a therapy horse at Hearts & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center in Loveland, Colo., was chosen as the grand-prize winner. Princess Xellie (along with her human friend, Jan Pollema, Executive Director of Hearts & Horses) will receive a one-year supply of Nutrena horse feed, a $250 Tractor Supply Company gift card, a Hope in the Saddle jacket and a commemorative trophy!
Princess Xellie, though a diminutive 42 inches at the shoulder, has had a big impact on the special equestrians who work with her. However, she has a particularly exceptional bond with Matthew, an adult in his 30s who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Though he cannot ride, Matthew interacts with Princess Xellie in other ways.
“Matthew gives Xellie kisses and she stands perfectly still, letting him put his hands all over her face,” Pollema explains in her nomination essay. “Xellie will do silly things with him too—stealing his toys and removing the blanket from his lap. The two of them take walks together with him holding a lead while she patiently walks beside his wheelchair. Afterwards they may take a nap together, Matthew asleep in his wheelchair and Xellie snoozing with her head in his lap. Xellie does all this, not because she has to, but because she adores Matthew.”
The three runners up are Bella, a therapy horse at Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, nominated by Beth Anne Algie; Chica, a therapy horse at Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center, nominated by Ashley Hartz; and Silver, a therapy horse at Hoof and Harness Experiential Learning, Inc., nominated by Melani Nelson. Each runner-up will receive coupons for five bags of Nutrena horse feed as well as a Hope in the Saddle jacket.
“The best part of my job just might be reading all the nominations for Therapy Horse of the Year,” says Hope in the Saddle’s program manager, Lauren Feldman. “There are so many wonderful people, horses and therapeutic riding programs out there—it’s truly inspiring. Our goal with this contest is to give some recognition—and give a little back—to the special horses who have given so much.”
Read the nomination essays for the Therapy Horse of the Year winner and finalists at https://hopeinthesaddle.com/horses-as-healers/2019-therapy-horse-of-the-year-winner-xellie.
About Equine Network’s Hope in the Saddle
The Equine Network provides, creates, and distributes relevant content and services to passionate horse enthusiasts while connecting them to each other and the marketplace. The Equine Network is the publisher of award-winning magazines, publishes a proprietary line of books and DVDs, provides emergency roadside assistance through USRider, and is home to several websites, including HopeInTheSaddle.com
The mission of Hope in the Saddle is to share some of the most meaningful and important stories to emerge from the equestrian world—stories of how our relationships with horses can help us overcome life’s toughest challenges. These stories come from all corners of the horse community—from therapeutic riding centers to show rings and competitive equestrians to backyard owners. Through engaging articles, videos and social media communities, Hope in the Saddle is proud to bring these stories to you. If you'd like to share your story, visit HopeInTheSaddle.com.
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About Tractor Supply Company
Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ: TSCO), the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, has been passionate about serving its unique niche, as a one-stop shop for recreational farmers, ranchers and all those who enjoy living the rural lifestyle, for more than 80 years. Tractor Supply offers an extensive mix of products necessary to care for home, land, pets and animals with a focus on product localization, exclusive brands and legendary customer service that addresses the needs of the Out Here lifestyle. With more than 32,000 team members, the Company leverages its physical store assets with digital capabilities to offer customers the convenience of purchasing products they need anytime, anywhere and any way they choose at the everyday low prices they deserve. At December 28, 2019, the Company operated 1,844 Tractor Supply stores in 49 states and an e-commerce website at www.TractorSupply.com.
Tractor Supply Company also owns and operates Petsense, a small-box pet specialty supply retailer focused on meeting the needs of pet owners, primarily in small and mid-size communities, and offering a variety of pet products and services. At December 28, 2019, the Company operated 180 Petsense stores in 26 states. For more information on Petsense, visit www.Petsense.com.