Meet Team Absorbine® member Patrick the Miniature Horse. Sarah Schaaf, Patrick’s owner, told us about his impressive show record, his therapy work, her appreciation for Absorbine® products, and her nineteen year relationship with Patrick.
GTR Patricks Vindicator, known to all as Patrick, is a miniature horse gelding known internationally for his impressive show record. Patrick has been exhibiting in breed demonstrations and performances with owner Sarah Schaaf since 2008, such as Rolex, the Secretariat Festival, and the Kentucky Horse Park Horses of the World Show. The pair has been showing together since 2002, when they were eight and five years old respectively. Starting in 2014, Patrick and Sarah became a therapy team, visiting schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and therapeutic programs to spread joy and smiles. In May 2017, Patrick was inducted into the USEF/EQUUS Foundations Horse Stars Hall of Fame in recognition of this show ring accomplishments, therapy work, and position as a miniature horse breed ambassador. We are excited to have such an accomplished and adorable equine as our team member! We caught up with Sarah to learn more about Patrick and their amazing partnership.
Absorbine®: How did you meet Patrick? What inspired you to start showing Miniature Horses?
Sarah: Right before I turned two years old, my mother and father bought Patrick and another miniature horse named Top Gun for me. My mother was involved in raising Standardbreds, so she had a love of horses, and she wanted me to be involved with them. Miniature horses were really popular in the 90’s and I got Patrick in 1998. That’s how she introduced me to horses. I’d had the minis for four years when I started showing Patrick in 2002. We started with lead line and costume classes and as I started to get older, our bond really grew and he became my best friend. That’s when I started branching out and doing events like Rolex and Breyerfest.
Absorbine®: You and Patrick have competed and performed at many of the top shows in the industry. Can you tell us about a special memory of one of these moments that you shared with Patrick?
Sarah: I think that overall Rolex is our favorite event because there are so many people there. They come and they watch Patrick and they know who he is and come and meet him. We meet so many people! A couple of times at Breyerfest we’ve had people who have flown across the country to come and meet Patrick. Last year, there was a girl from Colorado who came all the way to Breyerfest just to meet Patrick because she has a miniature horse that she rescued and wanted to train. I let her try to jump Patrick. She’s a really good friend. That’s what I really love about going to these places, meeting new people and becoming great friends with them and sharing love for the horses together.
Absorbine®: Does Patrick have his own Breyer horse model?
Sarah: No, not yet. That is my number one goal with Patrick, to convince Breyer that he should have a model.
Absorbine®: When competing, which classes are Patrick’s favorites?
Sarah: Absolutely the jumping! There are two divisions: the jumper division, which is based on height, just like larger horse classes, and hunters, which like with big horses is based on how well they go over the jumps, how smooth they are and how obedient they are. In the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) jumpers, which we usually show, every round you go higher and whoever has the fewest faults is the winner. Patrick is more of a jumper type horse. He’s always going for the height and just wants to go out and jump and jump and jump. So he always gets extremely excited when we do that.
Absorbine®: Patrick was recently inducted into the USEF/EQUUS Foundations Horse Stars Hall of Fame. What does this honor mean to you?
Sarah: I’m completely honored that he got it because it honors Patrick’s bond with me and his bond with other people. It was created to recognize horses that have had a significant impact on people. I just see the joy that he brings me and the joy that he brings people, like when he goes on therapy visits at hospitals, or just making people smile by letting them pet him at horse shows or watching him jump. So it was really significant for him to receive a national honor recognizing his impact on the people that we’ve met along the way.
Absorbine®: How did you and Patrick begin working as a therapy team? What inspired you to give back in this way?
Sarah: In 2014, I started taking classes with Pet Partners. They have an online program with training for the handler, and after you complete that, they have an evaluation for the animal, whether in be horses, or dogs, or cats. We had to find a regional person to evaluate him. They did things like roll wheelchairs in front of him, act like they have tremors and try to pet him, make loud noises, etc., just to see that he wasn’t going to get scared or hurt anyone when visiting a hospital. He passed with flying colors and has the highest registration you can get, so he can go into schools, hospitals, and even mental institutions. We did that for a couple of years, but then unfortunately Pet Partners didn’t have anyone to evaluate us again, so we went through another program to do it on our own. I’ve always seen what a wonderful bond he has with people who might be disabled, and especially children and the elderly. He’s a completely different horse when he’s around them, as opposed to being around adults or even around me. He will just lay his chin in their lap, close his eyes, and let them pet him. He is completely there for them and listens to them. So I wanted to give back by taking him to see people that couldn’t come to our horse shows or our different events, because they still need the opportunity to have that connection. He can really help heal them, even if they can’t come and see him.
Absorbine®: What is one of your favorite memories of working with Patrick as a therapy animal?
Sarah: On our second therapy visit we went to a facility called Kindred Healthcare in Louisville, KY. It’s a facility for people who are going to be there forever, people who have ALS or other degenerative diseases. Many of them can’t walk, can’t talk, and can’t really interact with others. There was one particular man who was probably in his mid-forties who had ALS and was completely paralyzed except for his head. Patrick walked in the room and we lowered the man’s bed and we took his hand and placed it on Patrick so he could feel like he was petting him. He just had the biggest smile on his face. He had horse posters all over his walls, so he was someone who really loved horses. When we were leaving, the person in charge said that the man had been on a complete downward spiral for the past year and that they hadn’t seen him smile or seen him be happy for as long as he had been there. This meeting with Patrick was the most significant event that had happened to him in the four or five years that he had been there.
Absorbine®: What is a day-in-the-life of Patrick like when he is not traveling around to shows or therapy events? What training or practice do you do to keep him ready to perform?
Sarah: Well Patrick’s favorite activity is eating. He loves to have his sweet feed in the morning and his hay. Then he goes outside. He has to stay on a dry lot because otherwise he would get very fat. Patrick and Top Gun just like to hang out and sometimes they go out in the pasture and eat. Usually, during the summer, I can come home from work and jump him for 30 minutes and work with him on tricks. He lives the lap of luxury, doing whatever he wants and eating.
Absorbine®: Patrick is considered a Miniature Horse breed ambassador. What are some traits that are valued in the Miniature Horse breed?
Sarah: Patrick would qualify more as a performance type miniature horse. When you go to miniature horse shows there are performance classes and then more halter based classes for horses that have good conformation, like the very long neck and small ears. They more resemble an Arabian. They are very refined. Patrick and many others are more focused on things like jumping, or obstacles, showmanship, etc. What the American Miniature Horse Association says on their website is that without any size reference at all, you should be able to look at a miniature horse and not tell the difference between a larger horse. They are supposed to be a large horse shrunken down. As far as personality, they have very good personalities, not like the stereotypical mean or stubborn pony. Miniature horses are very calm and very willing to do what you want them to. They’re very easy to train. Patrick is very intelligent and wants to learn and wants to please everyone.
Absorbine®: What suggestions do you have for people who are interested in learning how to show Miniature Horses?
Sarah: I would say that you don’t necessarily need an expensive miniature horse to get involved with them and enjoy them. My parents bought Patrick for only $800. It all depends on what you want to do with them. Go to a few miniature horse shows before you get one and talk to some people about them. There you can find out about local breeders that are good and responsible and have good horses, but don’t be afraid to look other places for a horse that might have more of the personality that you want, or be able to do the different things that you want them to do. The miniature horse community is very open and very friendly. People are always willing to help. You don’t ever have to worry about asking questions of anybody. They always want more people to get involved in the industry.
Absorbine®: How long have you and Patrick been using Absorbine® products?
Sarah: Going back further, my mother has been using Absorbine® products for 35 years. So we’ve been using your products with Patrick ever since we go him, which was 19 years ago.
Absorbine®: What are your and Patrick’s favorite Absorbine® products and why?
Sarah: We always use ShowSheen®. Patrick has a beautiful, long mane, so we always have to use it every day so he doesn’t get any tangles. UltraShield® fly spray keeps him comfortable in the summer. The SuperShine® hoof polish is always useful to keep him looking good at shows. I also use Magic Cushion® with Top Gun. He foundered many years ago and I swear that Magic Cushion® is absolutely magic for him. It makes him go from being sore and lame to being able to go out and gallop in the field with Patrick. I love everything Absorbine® really. It’s hard to pick favorites!
Absorbine®: Any final thoughts?
Sarah: Patrick is just the best thing that has happened in my life. He has taught me so many lessons. He’s my best friend. I’m just so thankful for every day I get to spend with him and get to go and share him with everyone at events and spend days with him at home too.
Sarah Schaaf is 21 years old and lives in Shepherdsville, KY. When she is not with Patrick, Sarah is attending Transylvania University in Lexington, KY where she studies studio art, history and music.
Patrick by the Numbers:
- Number of years competing: 17
- Number of inches high: 33.5
- Number of feet jumped: 4
- Number of carrots eaten: 1 per day
- Number of blue ribbons won: 65
- Number of outreach visits: 15
- Number of years with Sarah: 19
- Number of Rolex performances: 3
- Number of Breyerfests attended: 10
- Number of Instagram Followers: 30,000
- Number of Facebook Fans: 4,000