2020 Platinum Performance
Horse Welfare Awards
Sired by Tap the Mint out of Ziggy, with an impressive bloodline that includes Man O’ War, Mahmoud, Bold Ruler and War Admiral, “Tap Til Dawn” (Tristan) began his competitive career on the racetrack and transitioned to successfully compete in the show ring in jumping and dressage for more than a decade.
But ten years ago, Tristan realized his true calling as a therapy horse at Dream Catcher of Los Angeles Therapeutic Riding Centers.
Tristan’s career as a therapy horse began in 2009 when he was donated to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit center dedicated to helping people with physical and cognitive disabilities like cerebral palsy and autism, veterans returning home from war with PTSD or physical impairments, and at-risk teens with emotional difficulties.
Tristan was Dream Catcher’s first therapy horse and the center’s mainstay as its only horse for more than a year. The organization has grown to stable seven horses (with room for more) and two miniature horses. It serves more than 100 riders and is sustained by just three paid employees and 200-plus volunteers.
Once ridden by jockeys and professional equestrians, today Tristan’s is the go-to mount for riders of all abilities: A public lawyer with congenital hip dysplasia, who has suffered through 26 surgeries, including three hip replacements, gains balance and core strength astride Tristan; an 8-year-old autistic boy who has recoiled from touch since infancy breaks through his shell to touch foreheads with Tristan; and a tiny 5-year-old girl with Down’s Syndrome demonstrates personal mastery by riding Tristan to victory in the annual Kiwanis Equestrian Competition for Special Athletes at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in Sylmar, California.
Born in 1991, the versatile 29 year-old gelding is also an exceptional on-the-ground partner in individual and group Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions where participants learn about themselves and others by engaging in activities with horses.
Located in Long Beach – an area of underserved need in Southern California – Dream Catcher is a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Center, with PATH-certified and Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA)-certified mental health and equine specialists.
Tristan can be seen in action (http://www.dreamcatcherla.com/in-the-news.html) on KTLA sports feature Healing Horses, “ABC7 Salutes Dream Catcher's Horses for Forces” with our veterans, and recently William Shatner’s “UnXplained” Season 2, "Animals and Humans" features Tristan and our Veterans.
Tristan won the coveted Jockey Club Incentive Program “2015 Thoroughbred of the Year Award” for a thoroughbred that has gone on to have other careers: racehorse, jumper, dressage, and finally a therapy horse.Relationship of Nominator to Nominee
I am the Executive Director of Dream Catcher of Los Angeles Therapeutic Riding Centers. Our mission "is to improve the lives of children, adults, and veterans with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities through the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted activities and therapies, while serving the therapeutic riding profession through training, research, and education".
Tristan was our very first horse and helped start our center in 2009. He carried the entire center on his shoulders for the first year. Standing 16.1 hands, Tristan is tall for a therapy horse. Yet his sensitivity, intelligence and stability make him the most sought-after and versatile horses at Dream Catcher for 10+ years. Tristan is still working at age 29! -- Joan Blank