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Platinum Performance Horse Welfare Awards

Nickname: Elmo
Birth Year: 2000. Gender: Gelding. Breed: Spotted Draft Horse (Belgian/Paint cross).
Affiliated with Bridle Paths .

Tickle Me Elmo (“Elmo”) is a unique and versatile horse that serves in every capacity at Bridle Paths equine-assisted activities and therapies program. Elmo is a star of trail and screen, with extensive experience and training in judged trail and pleasure competitions, shows, and parades; he was even featured on television in the America's Favorite Trail Horse competition!

Standing at about 16 hands high, with a broad and sturdy build, Elmo works well with many different clients, and he is unfailingly kind, quiet, and forgiving in our sessions. Elmo carries our most physically challenged riders gently and carefully, and accommodates to their challenges with mounts and dismounts at the ramp. More experienced and independent riders can hit the trail with Elmo and take in the sights, or they can practice their skills with lateral movements and trail obstacles. Elmo partners with an adult with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, helping her to rediscover the joy and independence she found with horses in her youth. He worked both on the ground and under saddle to build trust, connection, and authenticity with a client with a traumatic brain injury. To carry a veteran with combat-related hip injuries, Elmo wears a bareback pad and breast collar fitted specifically to him and purchased with funds raised by the veteran’s daughter for her seventh birthday. Elmo stood quietly with a young psychotherapy client who struggled to access the emotions and find the words to express her experiences of trauma and neglect.

Elmo’s varied career, extensive competition record, and distinctively handsome and endearing demeanor have garnered many fans. (In fact, he’s somewhat like the character “Norm” from the TV sitcom Cheers. Visitors to our facility and our website and our Facebook page frequently recognize him and greet him!) This gentle equine giant truly loves people, and can be quite a clown seeking attention in the barn! Elmo does everything with great gusto – sleeping, eating, and engaging with his human staff. When he’s not napping in his stall or in turnout, he engages with everyone, actively seeking a pat, a kind word, or a favorite treat (such as gummy bears and bananas). It’s generally necessary to Elmo-proof the stall area, lest hanging halters, spray bottles, blankets, and buckets fall subject to his redecorating whims!

Elmo‘s advancing age and vast experience have brought with them considerable arthritis (most pronounced in his hocks) that has slowed and stiffened his steps, and some digestive repercussions as well. Like all of the Bridle Paths horses, Elmo receives the best of care, including a customized feeding program, regular dental and farrier care (he requires four shoes for joint support), monthly administration of anti-inflammatory medications, a weekly schedule of low-impact schooling and conditioning, and as much turnout as possible, as well as regular massage, acupuncture, and saddle fit services. Elmo’s care is expensive for sure, but he is a much loved and indispensable part of the Bridle Paths program, and worth every penny that we invest in him.

A grant from Platinum Performance would be invaluable in helping us to continue providing optimal care for Elmo. The high-quality and effective Platinum Performance products would be a significant asset to his feeding program (perhaps the Platinum Performance CJ and Platinum Performance GI products in particular). The additional $500 donation would help tremendously to defray the large and ongoing costs of his care. We would welcome a grant from Platinum Performance for Elmo to ensure that he can continue to serve, connect, and engage with our clients safely and comfortably for years to come.

Relationship of Nominator to Nominee
I am the president of Bridle Paths equine-assisted activities and therapies program in Leesburg, Virginia, and I came to know Elmo when he joined the program two years ago as a free lease from Erika Andrews of Syria, Virginia. -- Kathleen M. Fallon