Horse lovers know all horses are special. We also know sometimes a horse comes along that is more extraordinary than the others. Valentino is one of those horses.
I first saw Valentino as a three-year-old. He was a black Tennessee Walking Horse cross, 13.2, skin and bones, pacing back and forth with his nose raised above the top rail of a round pen. Valentino’s human “family” had moved away when he was a yearling and abandoned him. Neighbors threw hay when they could, but Vali might have starved to death had he not been rescued by Knoxville’s Horse Haven of Tennessee when he was three.
Valentino’s story does not end here. I, with the help of staff, volunteers, and riders at Therapeutic Animal Partners, nominated Valentino for PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International Equine of the Year. On November 12, at an international awards banquet in Lexington, Kentucky, it was announced that our little rescue horse, Valentino, had won this prestigious honor.