~ a majestic, dark brown, 20-year-old Thoroughbred, blind in the right eye for 15 years. Former show jumper and lesson horse. He came 300 pounds underweight with hooves in poor condition. Within five months, he rounded out to 1,200+ pounds at 16 hands. At the two year mark, his front shoes were removed, white line disease cured, and he goes barefoot, protected by Cavallo® boots on rocky trails. Not a trail horse by training or breed, Noble’s gentle nature, willing mind and long legs carry Joanne or her friends up and down trails, through creeks and rivers, over fallen tree limbs and across pastures. He is a willing participant in ACTHA competitions.
Cash (died Feb. 12, 2014)
~ a solid, stocky, chestnut, work horse-pony cross, 22, was rescued for $60 after being given to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, which had no use for him. It took a year to catch him, another year to calm him, two more years of round pen work, and in the fifth year of owning him, Joanne began riding. Now, they go out almost every weekend on trail rides topping 10 miles, and he never tires. Most of the time, she can hold his reins with one finger! He is the Energizer Bunny of horses.
While his history is unknown, it has always been obvious that he’s desperate for love and leadership. Where Noble cares not for being “loved on,” Cash will hold his head still, even with his eyes covered, for as long as she wants to pet him and sing to him. Measuring just a whisker under 15 hands high, Cash weighs exactly 1,000 pounds, and he will become an ACTHA competitor this year.
Paloosa (moved to Wyoming, April 2016)
~ The Appaloosa horse is known for its spotted coloring, great disposition, endurance and versatility, and Paloosa embraces all those qualities and more. She is most unusual in her bronze and creamy coat with a blond mane, and she is the most willing of horses to try anything. Her owner acquired her at age 5; owner was 12. In the past 8 years, Paloosa has learned to go English and Western, over jumps, around barrels, and both prefer bareback with just a hackamore (no bit) to gallop, jump, wade through water, tackle challenging trails or simply walk along with other riders anywhere, any time, in almost any weather. She has taken more than two dozen ribbons in competition and is owned by Summer D. of Blacksburg, VA.
Kazi (died Nov. 24, 2016)
~ the short version of T.D. Kaszandra, her registered Arabian name. At 20, this beautiful, all white, alpha mare has had three foals, the last one having been carried by Daisy, the palomino Tennessee Walker in the photo. The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine performed the embryo transplant at one week from conception, and the surrogate mother foaled in April, 2009. Her current owners acquired Kazi at age 9 ½ with no training. “Besides being beautiful, she is gentle, sweet-natured and intelligent,” they report. “Until you’ve seen her run full out with her tail flagged, head high and nostrils flaring, you have missed one of nature’s most spectacular creations!” Kazi has taken blue ribbons and a trophy in trail competitions and English halter. She stands at 14.2 hands, weighs 925 pounds and has retired from competition due to laminitis issues, the same reason she could not carry her foal. She is owned by Donnie and Diane C. of Dublin, Va.
The Noble Spirit Award was first given to Noble and Joanne at an ACTHA (www.actha.us) ride in Lexington, Va., in October 2010, for their performance at the Competitive Trail Challenge in light of their handicaps and senior status. The award is now given every spring and fall to someone who has overcome obstacles in his or her life and participates in the semi-annual competition. This ACTHA trail ride benefits Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center in Lexington, also home to the Virginia Horse Center (www.horsecenter.org) on whose land the 6-mile trail competition takes place.