2020 Therapy Horse of the Year Winner: Ella!

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𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗿𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬 𝗛𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗮𝗱𝗱𝗹𝗲 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗽𝘆 𝗛𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗬𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁: 𝑬𝒍𝒍𝒂, 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 Leg Up Farm!

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Bay horse with a white blaze stands next to a young male rider wearing a blue helmet. Horse and rider are standing in a barn aisle both facing the camera.

The 2020 Hope in the Saddle Therapy Horse of the Year winner: Ella, from Leg Up Farm!

“Cinderella’s Glass Slippers, aka Ella, has been a therapy horse in our program since 2012. She is a 16-year-old Quarter pony who loves to jump and go for gallops in the field. Ella came to Leg Up Farm as she suffers severe allergies that keep her from being a show horse. To date, she is our most veteran therapy horse, helping individuals with special needs and emotional support for almost nine years. While Ella can be very sassy and opinionated, she is one of our best teachers when it comes to riders gaining independence in their riding abilities, including learning to canter and jump. But what makes Ella a hero is her outstanding ability to read her rider and respond in ways that still manage to amaze us.

A few years ago, Ella was helping one of our independent riders come back from some serious medical issues, including re-learning to walk. As the rider became stronger and gained her independence back, she was able to ride Ella at a trot without any assistance. On two separate occasions, the rider began to have a major seizure while sitting on Ella. Both times, Ella remained calm, stopped and stood completely still until the instructor was able to get to them and dismount the rider, moving her to safety. This is something that is completely opposite to the nature of the horse. The fact the Ella could read the situation and respond in such a way is astonishing!

In more recent times, she has been working with an individual with autism spectrum disorder. While he is verbal, his verbal communication is limited as well as his means of expression. When it comes to working with the horse, he is capable of grooming and tacking with minimal assistance. Ella gives him the freedom to ride almost completely independently during his session, which he loves! For the past few months, he has started to learn to post the trot and is even able to ride Ella independently when doing so. Sometimes he gets very excited when he gets to do this. He will vocalize loudly and bounce up and down on her back. Ella always remains calm and just continues to trot at whatever pace they were already going. In just the past few weeks, we have been able to introduce the canter. He is able to experience the freedom of riding a horse in canter while on the lunge line with the instructor. Ella always takes care of him and does as he asks. 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐄𝐥𝐥𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐚 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐨 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬." —Jessica W.

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As the winning therapy horse, Ella—and her human friends—will receive a year’s supply of Nutrena Feed horse feed, a $250 gift card to Tractor Supply Co., and more! Thank you to everyone who entered! And thank you to Nutrena Feed and Tractor Supply Co. for supporting Hope in the Saddle and putting together an awesome prize package!

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