«Return to News ListingNMCTR’s “Fly” Won Thoroughbred of The Year!

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February 18, 2019 – 

Hadifly (aka On the Fly aka Fly), is a 20-year-old Bay Thoroughbred gelding out of Hadif by Miss Lashawn (Hopeful Word) that won the T.I.P. (Thoroughbred Incentive Program) Thoroughbred of the Year Award! The Thoroughbred Incentive Program was created to give off the track thoroughbreds a second career. The T.I.P. Thoroughbred of the Year Award recognizes a Thoroughbred that has excelled in a non-competitive career, such as equine-assisted therapy or police work. The award included a $5,000 grant to New Mexico Center for Therapeutic Riding.

He started his career on the racetrack a month after his 2nd birthday and raced successfully for 7 years, with 48 starts. After retiring, Hadifly began his second career as a 3-day event show horse, competing at the national championships two years in a row. His third and final career, however, has been his most successful and rewarding. As Ashley Armijo, the Program Director/PATH Instructor for New Mexico Center for Therapeutic Riding (NMCTR), began her career teaching students with disabilities to ride horses, she quickly found that her OTTB Fly wanted to be involved as well. He became an integral part of NMCTR’s program and an important member of the team, both in working with classes from the local schools and with our group or individual therapeutic riding lessons. Fly has touched many lives.

NMCTR worked with students from the Santa Fe Public Schools and the New Mexico School for the Deaf, at-risk teens from Youth Shelters and Family Services, and many other individual clients with cognitive, emotional, and physical special needs from the 6-yr-old with Down syndrome to the 65-year-old with multiple sclerosis. Fly’s warm heart and will to want to change lives makes him a popular and an adored horse. He knows when to comfort with the touch of his nose. He senses a rider’s instability or fear, and moves gently and carefully, knowing it is not a time he should race ahead or leap high. He patiently allows a rider with Parkinson’s disease, because of shaking hands and restless legs, to repeatedly joggle the reins and kick him, something he would never have tolerated in the past. When a rider with cerebral palsy and who is legally blind has dreams to walk over “jumps,” Fly steps over poles with grace and patience.

Fly is also a symbol of hope and resilience. After breaking his leg in a pasture accident, Fly spent 12 weeks on stall rest without seeing sunlight, eight of which in cross ties in a 12 x 12 box stall. Riders visited, telling him not to give up and to stay strong. Fly overcame something that many didn’t think he could. A deed not missed by his riders. Not only did he survive, he returned to his career as a therapeutic riding horse, miracle horse. Fly wasn’t ready to stop touching lives. With his incredible drive to please and soft manner, Fly enables his riders to feel a bit braver, take control of their life, know hope, and experience the joy of being free on the back of a horse—a retired racehorse. Hadifly is an amazing horse that strives to help change the lives of individuals with special needs. “I feel this is his calling,” Armijo says. “The calmest and happiest I’ve ever seen him is while he’s working with clients, helping them fulfill their dreams.”

Unfortunately, Fly broke his hip while in turnout with his fellow therapy horses in 2018. Once again, Fly shocked the world and survived another broken bone. He is currently at home with Ashley and received word from his vet that he can go back to work as a therapy horse changing lives.