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Platinum Performance Horse Welfare Awards

Nickname: Diego
Birth Year: 1998. Gender: Gelding. Breed: Paso Fino/Quarter Pony.
Affiliated with Ride On St. Louis, Inc. .

Diego was purchased at auction when he was just three years old and gifted to Ride On St. Louis. He has an incredible personality and extremely sharp mind. He very quickly learned to open gates and doors, and if he had the opportunity, would even let his favorite herd mates out of their stalls, too. However, even as a three year old, he was patient, level headed and very interested in humans. Around the age of 5, Diego began serving some clients in a limited capacity. Diego is now 20 years old and has been a core partner at Ride On St. Louis serving as many as 12 clients weekly in programs including equine-assisted physical therapy, equine-assisted occupational therapy, adaptive riding, sports riding, unmounted activities and our Sensational Summer Camp program. At just 13.2hh he is the perfect size for our smallest, most involved therapy clients, as well as children with disabilities who are learning to ride walk-trot-canter independently.

When Diego was about 9 years old, he was kicked in his hock by a Percheron. The stress done to the joint has weakened with age and has manifested in Diego's daily activities. Things as simple as trotting, crossing under the hind-legs, itching with his hind-leg and playing with his herd mates and have become painful for Diego. Last year, Diego could no longer serve his once, eight clients per week. Diego received a steroid injection into the inter-tarsal joint in November of 2017. Diego has been receiving several medicines, joint supplements, chiropractic service (thanks to Petco Foundation and discounts by Dr. Ava Frick), and participates in stretching and massage to control pain, promote health and prevent further damage.

The next steps for Diego included full x-rays and additional injections as the hock continues to heal and fuse together. We are unable to afford these added expenses and have asked our donors and supporters to help with the last treatment in June 2017. Our veterinarian specialist anticipates that the injections will become less frequent as the hock joint continues to fuse together. Diego's dynamic movement and size combination are unique to our herd at Ride On St. Louis and benefits specific client needs and abilities. Without Diego at full health, many clients miss out on the maximum benefit they can be receiving through his specialized movement.

With the most recent injection in June, Diego has been able to assist with our summer camp and is scheduled to serve a limited amount of clients in fall, barring no pain or discomfort arises. He is able to comfortably serve clients at the walk and at light trotting, but his discomfort could return at any time, and he will once again require an injection. Our vet anticipates Diego may only need 1-2 more injections before the joint has fused and will no longer be degenerating and causing pain and inflammation. Diego is on preventative, maintenance and restorative health management as he heals and these costs add up very quickly. This wonderful pony has been a part of my life longer than he has not, and deserves all the care and help while he heals. Diego has helped hundreds of children and adults with disabilities over his career and will hopefully be able to continue this impact-ful work well into his twenties. An award for Platinum Performance products would greatly assist in his comfort, recovery and future endeavors with Ride On St. Louis, and provide financial relief for Ride On St. Louis.

Relationship of Nominator to Nominee
My parents, the founders of the organization, established Ride On St. Louis in 1998 at my home in St. Louis, Missouri, when I was 10 years old. Diego was purchased from an auction by a donor/friend of the organization in 2001 when he was just 3 years old and gifted to our program. We cared for him and three other horses in the program on our home property & barn before Ride On St. Louis relocated 10 minutes south to Kimmswick, MO. I have been volunteering since day one, caring for Diego since he first came to live with us in 2001, and have been full-time staff at Ride On St. Louis since 2011. -- BriAnn M Session