Dalton Discovered – A Therapeutic Riding Horse’s Reunion

A beloved Therapeutic Riding horse needed to retire from Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Therapeutic Riding program. This horse’s injuries just kept coming back and it was dangerous for him to continue the work he loved. Thanks to an amazing chance reunion, Dalton was given the retired life of his dreams.

Therapeutic Riding Horse Given Dream Retirement

Therapeutic Riding - Helen Woodward Animal Center (6)

Dalton Prince, or just “Dalton” to his close friends, was born in the countryside of Ireland and raised by a young boy. However, in 2002, the boy was forced to sell his four-legged friend when he went off to college. A woman by the name of Kathleen found Dalton and moved him to Los Angeles the same year.

Unfortunately, Kathleen had to sell Dalton a time later and was very sad.  Four years after that she was told Dalton had a turnout accident, broke his pastern, and was euthanized. As you can imagine, she was devastated.

Fast forward to June, 2007…

Therapeutic Riding - Helen Woodward Animal Center (1)Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Therapeutic Riding program was adding a new horse-member to their team. The owner at the time had explained that this horse needed to be retired from his previous career as a jumper because of an injury. The horse had a two-year recovery, but it was decided that it was best for him to retire from the sport.

During this horse’s long recovery, his owner introduced him to things that he would experience if he were a therapeutic riding horse. This horse was very careful and deliberate about all the things he came in contact with. He was gentle, steady and perfect for therapy work. His name? Dalton.

The staff quickly fell in love with this beautiful, gentle giant. His training and impeccable manners made it possible for him to work with a wide range of clients. His great confirmation created a wonderfully engaging gait that helped stimulate the muscles of his riders. He provided hundreds of rides to people with special needs over the next few years.

After a few years in his career as a therapy horse, Dalton started to have trouble with injuries again. Eventually the difficult decision was made to retire him from the program. Unfortunately, Dalton’s last owners were unable to care for him, so Helen Woodward Animal Center began to look for an adoptive family for Dalton in late 2011.

In December, 2011, Kathleen’s current horse, Galahad, was at Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Equine Hospital for stomach issues. While she was walking Galahad one day she saw a horse that looked EXACTLY like the beautiful warm-blood she had imported from Ireland those many years before.

In Kathleen’s own words…

Therapeutic Riding - Helen Woodward Animal Center (12)“But how could that be him?! I called Dalton’s name and he nickered back at me. I was in shock. I walked back to this horse that looked like Dalton. LOW AND BEHOLD the sign on his stall said DALTON.

 “My eyes welled up with tears and a volunteer saw me.  She asked why I was so upset about Dalton and I told her I thought he was euthanized and that I always missed him and regretted selling him.  She reassured me that he was well taken care of by, Dr. Rodrigo Vasquez, who is also my vet, and helped children in the Helen Woodward Therapeutic Riding program.  I was happy he was helping others but still sad that he wasn’t with me.

“After our reunion, I received a call from Helen Woodward Animal Center saying the Therapeutic Riding program needed to retire Dalton and if I was interested in taking him. I asked if I could think about it… but it it was a no brainer, by Monday morning I knew Dalton had to be back with me.”

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Jump to today!  Dalton did indeed stay with Kathleen where he received daily cyma therapy treatment (think long massage), exercised on the eurosizer, and was gently ridden on trails.

After having searched high and low for the perfect place for Dalton, Kathleen found it!  Dalton now lives at his permanent retirement home on a farm. He will live out his life on a 10-acre grass pasture (including a comfy stall for when it’s cold) with a friend and receive loads of love, care and relaxation. Kathleen says she will be going up to visit and give love to him on a regular basis.

“I’m so glad to have him back in my family – thank you Helen Woodard Animal Center! Here’s to Dalton Prince!” says Kathleen.

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One response to “Dalton Discovered – A Therapeutic Riding Horse’s Reunion

  1. Great story. It is warm but also conveys that a creature can be valued for one quality but in the face of misfortune, discover real purpose. Dalton, yes Dalton.

    Elise Rothman d’Hauthuille
    EAI Repository – Research & Funding
    Equine Assisted Interventions for Mental Health

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