Northwest NEWS

December 3, 2001

Local News

Woodinville horse wins national award

Murphy, a horse at the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, in Woodinville has been awarded the National Therapy Horse of the Year Award by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA). Representatives from Little Bit accepted the top honor on behalf of Murphy at a special banquet on Nov. 3 in Seattle, at NARHA's 2001 national conference.
   Through its regional awards program each year, NARHA recognizes extraordinary therapy horses that make lasting impressions on the participants at therapeutic riding centers.
   From that group of regional winners, a national award is given.
   "Murphy was chosen for NARHA's highest therapy horse honor because he exhibits character and sensitivity beyond what is normally expected of a therapy horse," said Bill Scebbi, NARHA's executive director. "Many participants at the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center are dealing with a variety of physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities. Murphy seems to have an innate, intuitive way of knowing what they need, and he sends love and support their way."
   An 11-year-old, brown dun Norwegian fjord gelding, Murphy was selected from more than 5,700 therapy horses at NARHA member riding centers.
   Born and raised on a farm in British Columbia, Murphy was three when the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center was looking for the perfect program horse.
   When the center acquired Murphy, it was soon apparent that it had gained a wonderful horse that wanted to "give, help and heal."
   "Murphy always comes out of his stall ready to go to work whether it is working with the instructors and physical therapists in a long lining session or for an independent walk, trot or canter lesson," said Rebecca Ortega, one of Murphy's handlers. "I love the way he says hello to everyone working with him and how he gently nuzzles the rider's feet before they dismount. He was put here on this earth to warm the hearts of our riders, volunteers and staff everyday."
   According to Ortega, Murphy has a wise soul that knows what the riders need from him. "Whether it is a rider who is afraid of horses or rider who can't wait to get going, Murphy is there to listen. He is the horse our physical therapists trust to their most delicate kids."
   The award, sponsored by Purina Mills and BMB Tack, includes one ton of horse feed, a blanket and a custom portrait by Oregon based artist, B.J. Lewis.