Mac being sent to pasture after an illustrious career

Darian Deluca cuddles up to famous horse Mac, whose big retirement party from the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association takes place Wednesday. - submitted
Darian Deluca cuddles up to famous horse Mac, whose big retirement party from the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association takes place Wednesday.
— image credit: submitted

Mac is truly one of a kind in terms of therapeutic horses and will be receiving the send-off he so richly deserves next week.

The Norwegian Fjord's short, sturdy stature made him an ideal partner for therapeutic riders at the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association for more than 12 years. CTRA is honouring Mac, who turns 25 years old in March, with a Hawaiian-themed send-off party next Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. at CTRA's facility on Providence Farm.

"He was a therapeutic horse, also a sport horse and also did recreational stuff as well,'' said head instructor and Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association coach Lisa Pink. "He would specialize in all three things. He wore a few hats, let's put it that way.''

Mac, also known as Heljo's Image, was born at Heljo Fjord Ranch in Cremona, Alberta. He was donated to CTRA by a Calgary family in December of 2000 and has felt right at home at the Duncan CTRA facility ever since.

Mac's many great assets that made him an ideal therapeutic riding horse, Pink said, included "his temperament, his build and his size.

"He has really therapeutic movements. He is the epitome of a therapy horse due to his temperament and his movement.''

Besides that, "he had tons of patience,'' Pink said. "He would do a lot of waiting till everything was set up just right. He was a character. He liked to push the volunteers around a bit.''

Mac's extensive background includes training in dressage and driving, medals at the B.C. Summer Games for Athletes with a Disability and a first place in the national Sea To Sea video competition in 2011 with rider Ross Wristen.

With Mac's advancing age, CTRA felt it was time to ease his workload.

"He looks wonderful out there,''' said Pink. "But we do know from the vet, he's just sore in the joints so we didn't think it was fair to use him anymore. We just don't want him to hurt doing his job.''

More than a few tears are sure to be shed when everyone at CTRA bids Mac a fond farewell. The public is invited to join the celebrations, as Mac gets 'leid off.'

But no one needs to feel badly for Mac because he'll be taken care of well in his remaining years by a family that already has other horses. One of them is a special horse considered by CTRA volunteers as Mac's 'girlfriend.'

"He gets to retire with her,'' quipped Pink.

Finding a replacement for Mac, however, will be difficult because he really is one of a kind.

"We have been trying for probably the last six to seven years to find similar to him and still no one has filled his boots,'' said Pink.

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