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Horse Illustrated Super Senior Contest Winners

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WINNER: Amanda Adams/Arizona

RUNNER UP: Jana Harris/New York

RUNNER UP: Julianne Smith/Pennsylvania

RUNNER UP: Tina McRobie/Pennsylvania

HorseTech would like to thank everyone who entered the Super Senior contest announced in the September issue of Horse Illustrated. We loved reading about your golden oldies! Congratulations to the winner, who will receive two 20-pound buckets of Glanzen 3, and the runners-up, who each receive one.

Grand Prize Winner: Amanda Adams & Tuff (Arizona)
My super senior horse is a 20-year-old gelding named Tuff. Almost two years ago, I adopted him from an equine program that was downsizing. Contrary to his name, Tuff is the calmest, most bomb-proof horse that I have ever met. I originally wanted a horse that I could show, but after working with Tuff for a year, I fell in love with him and realized how wonderful he was with children, especially children with special needs. Since starting as a therapy horse back in 2009, Tuff has worked with over 200 different students who have disabilities ranging from autism and Down syndrome to cerebral palsy and more.

I recently opened a therapeutic riding program in the West Valley of Phoenix, Ariz., with Tuff as my first official therapy horse. One of my favorite memories is of Tuff gently placing his head in the lap of a child who was is in a wheelchair so he could pet Tuff's face easily. I can't explain it, but he seems to know when the children need him to be calm and loving, and when they need him to be stubborn.

In addition to his loving, patient demeanor around people with special needs, Tuff has also worked with at-risk youth. When students aren't listening to the instructor, Tuff takes them right to the gate and stops until they start listening, helping them understand the importance of rules and why we have them. It is amazing to see the transformation in these students. So many people have approached me about what a wonderful horse Tuff is and how much they love him. Tuff knows how to help people, and it is my greatest joy to help him live a wonderful life!

Runner-up: Jana Harris & Reilly (New York)
The love of my life is an American Quarter Horse named Reilly. He is the most loving, obedient, willing-to-please horse there is. We are both senior citizens: He is 29 and I am 73.

I rode for the first time three-and-a-half years ago when a friend and I were at a dude ranch. At that time, there were 15 horses slated to go to auction the next morning, and Reilly was one of them. The wrangler that had ridden him for the last three years was distraught. In order to prevent him from going to auction, I convinced the owner of the stables where I was taking lessons to take him in. At that point, he was only trained western and the stable taught English riding. When we got him home, the best riders sat on him and retrained him. It took a long time, but today he is a very valuable lesson horse. He doesn't kick, bite or spook. I lease him, and he earns part of his board in lessons with beginners and intermediate riders.

Everyone just loves him. Kids argue over who is going to show him, and that makes me so proud. Reilly is always in the ribbons. I am sure you have many entries prettier than Reilly, but he shines from the inside out.

Runner-up: Julianne Smith & Mystery (Pennsylvania)
My horse, Mystery, is a 25-year-old Standardbred cross, and she deserves to be the "super senior" due to her amazing perseverance and forgiving nature.

Mystery came to be my horse over 13 years ago when my dad and I went to a local auction and saw a skinny black mare go through as a "no sale." All that night, we talked about how she had much more potential underneath. The next morning we called the dealer; for $600, she was mine! The dealer didn't know much about her, and she didn't even have a name--that's how she came to be called Mystery, as she was a complete mystery to us. The only thing apparent about her past was an extensive history of physical/mental abuse, which was clear without anyone having to tell us. In fact, for about the first six years of owning her, she had extreme aggression issues and was virtually unrideable.

It has taken many years of patience, hard work and dedication to get her to become a trusting mount; a lot of tears have been shed. However, through our struggles together, she has turned into my favorite horse, won me a high-point champion title in gaming, and has become my kindred spirit. Even at her current age, she is still turning barrels for me, and getting some of her fastest times to date! But this will most likely be her last year in the show-ring due to her age. It will then be time for her to enjoy a well-deserved retirement and live out her days in peace, enjoying all the simple horsey pleasures people robbed her of for so many years. She is without a doubt my diamond in the rough!

Runner-up: Tina McRobie & Mocha (Pennsylvania)
My golden oldie, a 20-year-old American Quarter Horse gelding named Mocha, was in a slaughter pen at a horse auction headed for certain death. No one wanted him because he was old, skinny, lame and sore in his front feet. A gentleman with a good heart felt sorry for him and bought him, as well as some other horses in the pen. A few months later, the man found that he had too many rescues to care for and needed to find a forever home for Mocha. The word went out through Facebook, and my friend suggested that I take him. She knew I had been looking for a quiet, sane trail horse for my husband. I was very uncertain because I'd never considered an older horse--I thought it would be too much trouble to keep him sound. One year later, with proper feed, hoof care and love, Mocha is handsome, very healthy and loves his new life in the pasture and on the trails as a partner for my husband and a calm companion for my Mustang.

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