Horses as Healers

Horsepower's Ebony Chosen as Hope in the Saddle Therapy Horse of the Year

Ebony is the winner of the inaugural Hope in the Saddle Therapy Horse of the Year contest. Credits: Provided
Ebony is the winner of the inaugural Hope in the Saddle Therapy Horse of the Year contest. Credits: Provided
Ebony is the winner of the inaugural Hope in the Saddle Therapy Horse of the Year contest. Credits: Provided

HUNTINGDON, Pa. — A mare named Ebony is the winner of the inaugural Hope in the Saddle Therapy Horse of the Year contest.

The Therapy Horse of the Year contest was a national competition hosted by Hope in the Saddle, along with sponsors Nutrena and Tractor Supply Company, to acknowledge the hard work, special skills, and selfless contributions of therapy horses.

Selected from more than 120 entries, Ebony was chosen as the grand-prize winner of the contest. Ebony (along with her human friend, Pam Hayes-Houldin) will receive a one-year supply of Nutrena feed, a $250 Tractor Supply Co. Gift Card, plus Hope in the Saddle gear and a commemorative trophy.

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Ebony is a registered Morgan Pony who has been a “therapist” for more than 12 years. Now in her 20s, Ebony has taught dozens of children about horses and riding through the Horsepower Foundation, a 501C3 charitable foundation at Horsepower Farm near Huntingdon, Pa., that offers equine-assisted activities for riders with special needs.

Ebony has a particularly special bond with a young adult rider named Christie. Christie had lost a leg to cancer and was feeling despondent, but with Ebony’s help she was able to improve not only her balance and strength, but her outlook on life. Christie and Ebony ride twice a week, and Christie is now an independent rider with Paralympian dreams.

“I am so honored by this award,” said Hayes-Houldin, the director of Horsepower Farm and Horsepower Foundation. “Ebony…and all of Ebony’s riders will be thrilled to say the least.”

The three runners-up are Honey, nominated by Michelle Bailey; Dot, nominated by Jackie Robinson; and Gunny, nominated by Amanda Bubb. Each runner-up will receive coupons for five bags of Nutrena feed as well as a Hope in the Saddle gift bag.

“All the entries we received were so moving,” says Hope in the Saddle’s program manager Lauren Feldman. “Our goal with this contest was to give some recognition — and give a little back — to the special horses who have given so much. There are so many wonderful stories out there about the many ways in which horses are healers. Thank you to all the programs, directors, riders, volunteers, and, of course, the horses who make this meaningful work happen.”

About Hope in the Saddle

The mission of Hope in the Saddle is to share some of the most meaningful and important stories to emerge from the equestrian world — stories of how our relationships with horses can help us overcome life’s toughest challenges. These stories come from all corners of the horse community — from therapeutic riding centers show to show rings and competitive equestrians to backyard owners. Through engaging articles, videos, and social media communities, Hope in the Saddle is proud to bring these stories to you. If you'd like to share your story, visit TAPinto Horses would also like to share stories of such horses from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. E-mail photos and information to

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