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Platinum Performance Horse Welfare Awards

Nickname: Seb, Sebbie
Birth Year: 1997. Gender: Gelding. Breed: Norwegian Fjord.
Affiliated with National Center For Equine Assisted Therapy (NCEFT) .

Sebastian's Background:

Sebastian was the last horse NCEFT’s founder, Barb Heine, helped us train in 2007. Barb had a keen eye, and when she saw Sebastian she said, “He’ll be a good one.”  Barb was an exceptional horsewoman, physical therapist, humanitarian, and philanthropist. Thanks to her tireless efforts, NCEFT is today an inspiration to the wider community and one of the nation’s largest equine-assisted therapy (physical, occupational, and speech therapy conducted on horseback) programs.

Sebastian was born on May 16, 1997 at Old Hickory Farm in New York State.  Bred by Julia Wills, Sebastian was the result of a careful cross between the great stallion, Erlend, and a Montano daughter.  The following year, Mary Blatz purchased him as a future family horse, hoping he might someday grow to be a babysitter to her 4 kids.  Sebastian far exceeded her expectations, becoming not only a solid riding horse, but a steady driving horse as well. For nine years, Sebastian flourished under Mary’s care, but a day came when she could no longer juggle the demands of a growing family and caring for a horse.  So she turned to Patti Jo Walter of Francis Creek Fjords, known for selling top quality ridden Fjords. Patti Jo agreed to consign Sebastian at her farm in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Patti Jo barely had time to advertise Sebastian before prospective buyers were lining up for the opportunity to purchase him.

NCEFT and Lori Garone came along looking for a horse to act as the foundation in NCEFT’s new Veterans program.  As a non-profit, most of NCEFT’s horses are donations, but the staff recognized in Sebastian something worth investing in, and managed to put together the $9,000 needed to buy him.  Then came the countless preparations for his cross-country trip from Wisconsin to California. After passing all the necessary exams and earning his health certificates, Sebastian loaded onto a trailer and began his trip to his new home here in Woodside, CA where he has been a top performer and foundation of many programs for the past 11 years.

Sebastian's Personality & Temperament:

Don’t let those gorgeous sleepy eyes deceive you.  Sebastian loves his job and is listening to your every word!  He is gentle and reassuring and is easily long-lined or led by a wide range of horse handlers and some volunteers. He loves his job! When a horse handler goes to get him out of his stall in the morning, he nickers and quickly walks to the stall door to greet them.  

Once tacked up for a session, he is all business.  He marches into the mounting blocks, stands quietly for the mount, stays focused on his job and is very responsive to his handler.  He tolerates all skill levels during equine-assisted therapy sessions and adaptive riding lessons, but is most engaged during an active and varied session, with a handler that gives him good energy and a few ‘good boys’, along with gentle pats of appreciation from his patients. Sebastian is also the go-to guy for big events such as bringing Santa to the NCEFT family holiday party.  He tolerates wearing a Santa hat and antlers, and stands comfortably in front of hundreds of guests clapping at the NCEFT Annual Gala. He represents NCEFT in the May Day Parade, and acts as an ambassador at the Woodside Day of the Horse Parade where hundreds of people come up to say hi and fall in love with his calm and friendly nature. He also allows energetic kids to put their handprints all over him during our week long summer camp for NCEFT patients and their siblings.

Sebastian willingly tolerates all patient positions (forward, backward, side sitting, modified side sitting, tall kneel, ½ kneel, and standing, supine, etc.), as well as vaulting positions such as flag, prince, crab, bear, star, etc.  The patients’ movement and behavior do not disrupt his calm demeanor. In fact, he seems to view it as his job to be steady and solid for all patients, including continuing straight despite a patient significantly off midline. He uses a variety of tack, including felt/surcingle, various saddles (english, western, maverick, sheepskin), supracore and vaulting equipment.

Sebastian’s Health History:

Sebastian is currently 21 years old and has been an outstanding NCEFT therapy program horse since 2007.  In October 2014, Sebastian was diagnosed with high ringbone in his right hind. He was immediately started on Equioxx and responded well. Though the prognosis for long term soundness was not optimistic, he has continued to be serviceably sound for therapy sessions.  Additionally, in December 2014, he was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease and has been treated with Thryo-L and Prascend medications. We continue to successfully manage his condition using these medications and thankfully, no additional complications have resulted. However, we feel Sebastian would be an excellent candidate to receive additional nutritional supplementation from Platinum Performance products.

Relationship of Nominator to Nominee
I am the Development Director at NCEFT. Sebastian is one the horses used in NCEFT's equine-facilitated therapy programs.   -- Cherie Hammer