The 2016 Midwest Horse Fair featured several notable equine celebrities, and AgWired was fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to visit with one of this year’s most exceptional honorees. Padre is a mustang stallion and former wild horse who went above all odds to prove himself as a champion dressage horse, and is continuing to inspire so many in his community through his new role as a service horse in a veterans therapy program.
Patti Gruber first brought Padre home in 2007, and began schooling him and showing him on local dressage circuits. He soon excelled through the ranks, and the pair began competing on the national circuit. In 2010, he became the first wild horse to qualify and compete in dressage at Devon, and remains the first wild horse to hold a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) national ranking. He has a Breyer horse in his honor, and has made appearances at Breyerfest. Now retired from the show ring, Padre and Gruber continue their work together through Veterans R&R, an EAGALA Military Services Program that allows horses to help struggling military veterans transition to successful lives outside of the military.
“I was fortunate enough to know Padre when he was about two years old, and I watched him grow up and knew what an amazing disposition he has,” said Gruber. “And I’ve spent the last nine years since I got him showing the world what mustangs can do.”
The pair made the trip to Madison to meet with members of the horse community and share their incredible story, thanks in part to a sponsorship by Purina. The trip was mainly meant to raise awareness about their EAGALA organization, the unique abilities that horses possess to help aid in the treatment of PTSD, addiction, and other problems that face many veterans today, and start conversations about the importance of supporting our nation’s veterans.
“I look at every day that I’ve had Padre as a gift. I’ve had a list of dreams that I’ve come up with from the day that he came into my life,” said Gruber. “He’s not only allowed me to achieve those dreams, but to exceed those dreams, and this is such an incredible opportunity to talk about something that doesn’t get as much attention as it should, and to allow Padre to facilitate some of these difficult conversations.”
Listen to Patti’s full interview to hear more about her incredible story with Padre:
Interview with Patti Gruber, Dressage Trainer