It seems almost as if Striker was destined to be a therapy horse. His role as a therapy horse actually began while still a successful youth show horse when his teenaged owner was in a serious car accident. The accident left her in a coma with multiple broken bones and a severe closed head injury. With his picture by her bed and because of her desire to ride him again, Striker became her incentive to recover.
She gradually regained her ability to walk and was determined to walk without her walker because she didn't want to scare her horse. Four months after her accident, she showed Striker in a halter class and despite her difficulty in walking, he didn't falter and they won first place. Seven months after the accident, she rode him for the first time. "He gave so much. He would just keep going, no matter what."
When Striker came to the Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship
in Pullman, Washington, "we knew we had a great horse. He was extremely patient and tolerant with our riders," said one instructor. His unflappable attitude and consistent nature inspire confidence in riders. Striker knew his job and always performed willingly and consistently.
One rider who has gained confidence from Striker is Sam Solan, a teenager with autism, who has been riding Striker for several years. "They say a child needs to have just one special individual in their life," says Virginia, Sam's mother. "If you have that one individual, your prognosis for success goes way up, especially if you are a child who is isolated and different. A special horse is just such an individual for my son.
Since the day when their eyes first met, Sam has been devoted to this beautiful, patient horse. Working with Striker has inspired him to focus on another's feelings rather than his own. This horse is always responsive and alert, and quickly obeys all of Sam's instructions. Striker has dedicated his life to connecting with children who desperately need connections. He is a fine example of the most noble of horses. Striker was honored as the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship
International Equine of the Year in 2010.
Striker made a positive impact on many, many lives during his 28 years, from his teenaged owner, to the children and adults in the therapeutic riding program, to the instructors and volunteers who worked with him. After retiring from the riding program he stood patiently while veterinary students palpated him front to back and top to bottom learning equine anatomy so that they could go on to help other horses.