Many equestrians' most pivotal moments in the saddle come aboard school horses in lesson programs. These tireless teachers train beginners of all ages, serve as the springboards to competitive riding, and help those with physical or mental challenges find joy and healing through equine therapy.
Stable Management magazine, the number-one resource for horse farms, stables and riding instructors, recently teamed up with SmartPak, the nation’s leading retailer of equestrian products, to honor these amazing animals with the SmartPak School Horse of the Year Award.
The inaugural winner is Afternoon Delight ("Violet"), a mare who is part of the Cornerstone Farm riding program in Foster, Rhode Island. She was nominated by owner/manager/instructor Beth Stone, who described Violet in the winning essay as her go-to partner for a rider's first lesson for more than a dozen years.
"She has instilled confidence and kindled a love of riding in literally hundreds of riders here at Cornerstone Farm—young and old, able-bodied and special-needs—with a willingness and gentleness that is amazing!" Stone wrote.
"Over the years, she has become better and better at her job, knowing the lesson routines, yet allowing her rider to feel that they are 'in charge,' earning her the nickname 'Auto-pilot Violet,' " she continued. "As riders progress and head to the show ring, Violet quietly tolerates their nervousness and willingly does her job, always with a happy and pleasant expression, winning many ribbons in local and regional competition. And Violet truly shines when she is working in our therapeutic program. Because she also has a disability (her left eye was removed in 2012), special-needs riders can relate to her. They see that Violet can do everything that the other horses do, and that her disability does not affect her! Every new school horse that has come into our program in the last 12 years has been compared to Violet, and none measure up to her! Violet is the most valuable horse I own."
One of more than 150 entries, Stone's essay was selected by the judges for its uniqueness and the way it captured the spirit of a school horse's contributions to a riding student’s experience. As the grand prize winner, Stone receives one free year of SmartSupplements™ in SmartPaks for the nominated horse, as well as a $250 SmartPak gift certificate.
“Many of these nominations brought me to tears, and many deserved to win,” said Kimberly S. Brown, associate publisher/editor of Stable Management. “We congratulate Violet and Cornerstone Farm, and thank them for sharing Violet’s story. We wish Violet many more years of happy, healthy teaching.”
“As a company of riders and horse owners, we know the value of lesson horses firsthand,” said Donnie Steele, SmartPak’s President and Chief Marketing Officer. “After all, it was their patience and kindness that first made each of us fall in love with the sport. That’s why we’re excited to provide this well-deserved prize, and honored to help keep Violet happy and healthy in 2016!”
About the Equine Network
The Equine Network provides, creates and distributes relevant content and services to passionate horse enthusiasts while connecting them to each other and the marketplace. The Equine Network is the publisher of award-winning magazines Horse&Rider, EQUUS, Dressage Today, The Trail Rider, Spin To Win Rodeo, American Cowboy, Practical Horseman and Horse Journal. The Equine Network also publishes a proprietary line of books and DVDs for sale through its store, HorseBooksEtc.com. The Equine Network provides emergency roadside assistance for equestrians through USRider, and is home to several websites, including: EquiSearch.com, Equine.com, Stablemanagement.com, MyHorseDaily.com, DiscoverHorses.com, AmericanCowboy.com and Horse-Journal.com.
From the feed room to the tack room, SmartPak offers innovative solutions to help riders take great care of their horses. SmartPak was founded in 1999 with the introduction of the patented SmartPak supplement feeding system. The revolutionary, daily dose SmartPaks are custom-made for your horse, individually labeled and sealed for freshness. With the success of this simple and convenient feeding system, SmartPak has continued to expand its offering of quality products, including its own line of more than 60 supplement formulas called SmartSupplements, and a wide variety of tack, equipment, and supplies. The company has grown rapidly each year and is now the largest retailer of equestrian products in the United States. SmartPak’s success has been powered by a passion for delivering an unbeatable customer experience, and the company has been recognized with a Bizrate Circle of Excellence award as well as an “Elite” rating from STELLAService. A nine-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree, SmartPak is the only equine company ever named to the Inc. 500 list. For more information visit https://www.smartpakequine.com/.