Hidden Creek's Jones

Photo courtesy of Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center
(1991 – )
Owned by Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center
Inducted: 2013

Photos

Photo courtesy of Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center
Hidden Creek's Jones is a big horse (he's 16.3!) who has had two larger than life careers "“ actually three! He had an extraordinary career as a show jumper with Olympian Margie Engle. Show jumping star Margie Engle rode Jones to the 2003 American Grand Prix Association's (AGA) Horse of the Year title. Jones was also known for being one of several horses who helped Margie achieve more than 195 Grand Prix victories and become an all-time career leader in the sport.

But he wasn't done there! For the former grand prix show jumper retirement from show jumping in 2009 promised far more than green pastures. After he retired, Jones began his career as a therapeutic riding horse with Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center (VTRC) in Loxahatchee, Florida - serving special needs riders and carrying several riders to the Special Olympics.

Jones transitioned into equine therapy with ease - helping persons with varying emotional and physical disabilities. Ruth Menor, Executive Director at VTRC, commented that the gelding "definitely has some star power. He gets a lot of attention in the barn, but he doesn't let it go to his head. He's the type of horse who has an internal sense "“ he just knows how to behave around people."

Just two years after being donated to VTRC, Jones helped Paralympic hopeful Katja Karjalainen, of Finland, qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Although Jones had never shown in dressage before, he learned the test and a freestyle routine in just three days!

Karjalainen was diagnosed with a disease that left her blind and partially paralyzed at 26 years old. She left riding for ten years after she contracted the disease. Gradually she came back to riding and leading up to the Olympic Games Trials, she was practicing five times a week.

After VTRC confirmed that Jones could be used to compete in the Paralympic qualifier, Karjalainen and her team embarked on a fourteen-hour journey from Finland. When it came time to enter the show ring, Katja and Jones had only practiced a handful of times.

During competition, Karjalainen's coach, Petri Lopakka, was permitted to give her verbal cues indicating where she was in the ring. Katja used those cues to navigate her way around the arena and to signal Jones when to walk, trot, halt or turn at the correct time. Following her ride, Karjalainen commented, "Without Jones, I couldn't have qualified for London and become the second place European rider over all."

Katja Karjalainen and Margie Engle weren't the only Olympians that Jones supported to victory. Jones' big heart, indelible kindness, and incredible skill has taken him "“ and his riders "“ to success in three types of Olympics. Chris Nardone is a talented VRTC rider, who showed Jones at the 2012 Special Olympics.

For Hidden Creek's Jones, the end of his show jumping career was just the beginning of a new career helping talented riders like Katja, Chris, and others with varying emotional and physical disabilities achieve their dreams.