Karen Chaton visits 35-year-old Tulip, AERC's highest mileage horse (22,280 mi), happily working as a therapy horse
November 20 2022
by Karen Chaton
Yesterday I mentioned getting to see an old friend while I was at the Cal-Neva Gratitude Ride & Drive. That old friend is Tulip.
For those that may not know who Tulip is - he is a 35 year old Morab gelding that also happens to be the highest mileage endurance horse in the sport of endurance. Well over 22,000+ miles over an incredibly long career. Tulip's owner, Les Carr, passed away in 2015 and Tulip ended up in the capable hands of his wife Jill and daughter Cecilia.
I was excited to learn that Tulip was alive and well and has a new job! He's been working as a therapy horse at the ROP Sierra Sage Equestrian Center. It turns out that Tulip has never liked being retired, which is understandable. Endurance horses love going places and seeing things. They thrive on it. When they are suddenly getting left home, especially when other horses are coming and going they absolutely know what they are missing and in Tulips case each time he was retired he got depressed.
Tulip's second career (therapy horse is at least his 3rd career, btw) was as an outrider on wagon train rides. The type where they travel in large groups over various passes in the Sierra's - like highway 50, 49 and 88. I remember when my junior excitedly told me that she got to ride Tulip and asked me if I knew who he was.
Of course I knew Tulip. I had ridden a lot of miles alongside him with Chief, and one time Les even invited me to ride Tulip on a 50. We had a great time. Tulip has a well known reputation for bucking people off. Tulip did try to buck with me many times but he wasn't serious and by the middle of the ride he stopped.
There was many a time that we saw Les getting back on after getting bucked off at a ride start. Once during a ride I was trotting along in a group to look over and see Tulip trotting alongside me with no Les. ￼
Cecilia told me that within 30 days of going to the therapy center that Tulip had gained 100 pounds, got his sparkle back and is loving his new job. It is clear that Tulip is being extremely well cared for, has good weight, his feet look fabulous and Tulip does indeed have a sparkle in his eye. I'd like to think that he remembered me as he came over and was very friendly. I brought a baggie of Strategy with me to feed him, and he enjoyed every bit not losing any so being 35 isn't affecting his ability to eat.
When we first rode up on Jovi and Apollo I could see a grey horse running around, quite frisky. I didn't know yet from a distance that it was Tulip (it was). It was nice to see an old friend looking happy and healthy.