Dooley was a 1983 Appaloosa gelding who was donated to our program by his owner
She had bought a younger horse for competition and worried that Dooley was not getting as much work and attention as he deserved. “He needs a job,” she told me on the phone. Now he has one. Rock-steady and kind, Dooley easily made the transition to therapeutic riding where he worked with everyone from absolute beginners to the handful of advanced riders who are able to ride independently. Dooley was always “been-there-done-that” and knew his job like the old pro he was. In addition to providing us with another reliable school horse, Dooley added some colour to our lessons: Appaloosas were bred by the Native Americans for, among other things, their brightly patterned coats which are often accented by striped hooves and a very short mane and tail.
Dooley was retired at the age of 30 after he lost his battle with a progressive eye condition which robbed him of his sight. He truly enjoyed working, and having regular rides, and is dearly missed in our barn. The old guy enjoyed his last months at The Horse Sanctuary, and when the time came, he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
1994 Tennessee Walking Horse
This strikingly handsome horse was donated to our program when his owners could no longer keep him. Physically and mentally, Memphis is the ideal therapy horse – strong without being too tall, calm with a sweet personality that makes him a rider and volunteer favourite. True to his breed, Memphis has a huge walking stride which is ideally suited to riders needing the physical therapy of powerful movement to mobilize their joints and challenge their balance and co-ordination. Memphis loves trail-rides, carrying his rider with confidence.
2005 Canadian gelding
The Horse Sanctuary retired Louis from therapeutic riding in June 2013. This charismatic, highly intelligent horse is now enjoying a life of semi-retirement, going on trail rides and keeping the grass mowed in his pasture. Louis worked hard in our therapeutic program for 5 years, often with our most difficult or fragile riders. He has earned his semi-retirement, and we wish him well. He will be missed!
Louis has moved onto a new home where he is enjoying new surroundings, a doting owner, and a pretty new girlfriend. Au revoir Louis!
1993 QH x Belgian mare
The Horse Sanctuary took Taffy in for rehabilitation and re-homing, but it was soon evident that beneath a thin veneer of fear and distrust lay the heart and soul of a true therapy horse. The gentle eyes said it all. Taffy only needed an opportunity to re-discover a positive partnership with humans. After some basic re-training and under-saddle work, Taffy was ready to take on her first therapeutic riding student. She has not looked back since.
Taffy is built like the proverbial “tank,” and while her foundered feet prevent her from carrying heavy riders, she is a wide and comfy ride. What surprises her riders most is the speed of her walk – she marches with purpose, far faster than our Tennessee Walking Horse! Her trot is lovely and smooth, and she enjoys the games we play in lessons. Welcome to the program, Taffy!
2003 Belgian-cross gelding
While much too large for our young riders (Moose is 17 hh and weighs in at 1500 pounds), Moose is an excellent match for several of our adult riders who enjoy his big, bouncy gaits and charming personality. Moose is a spectacular horse who has become a favourite model for professional and amateur photographers. A rescue from the PMU (pregnant mare urine) industry (see his story under the rescue horse tab), Moose is a permanent member of the Stonegate Farm herd.
Hackney Horse / Clyde cross gelding
A PMU rescue who came to us with Moose, Ronan loves being groomed, pampered, and doing ground-work with our clients. Like Moose, Ronan is a permanent resident at Stonegate Farm who will continue to work with The Horse Sanctuary clients for many years to come.
Melvin is a 1997 Thoroughbred gelding who was donated to our program by his owners (through our friends at Highview Farms).
Melvin raced under his Jockey Club name Avenging Injun, but evidently not too successfully as he was soon sold for training as a hunter / jumper. This job he was very good at, taking his young riders all the way to the Royal Winter Fair on several occasions. Over the years he acquired some bumps and bruises and just enough arthritis to make continued competition too much of a physical strain. His owners began looking for a semi-retirement home, and we were lucky enough to be chosen.
Like many Thoroughbreds who have had long competitive careers, Melvin has a laid-back, “been-there-done-that” attitude. It’s not easy to throw this horse off his game! He’s gentle and sweet, carrying his riders around with elegance and grace. And he is one of those wonderful horses who babysit the beginners while giving a fun ride to those who are capable of more.
And to complete the package, he is a very handsome horse, with that aristocratic quality so particular to Thoroughbreds.
We’re thrilled to have Melvin join our select herd of therapeutic riding horses.