Wandering Angus

Photo courtesy of Sue Coppola, Sirius Photography
(1997 – 2019)
Owned by Katy Hansen
Inducted: 2019


Photo courtesy of GRC Photo
Photo courtesy of Redline Photography
Photo courtesy of Sue Coppola, Sirius Photography
Wandering Angus, better known as 'Angus,' is a valued team member of Great and Small Therapeutic Riding in Boyds, Maryland. Angus knows a thing or two about being cool and confident. That self-confidence is just one of many things that the former racehorse and eventing horse instills in his riders, volunteers and anyone else who has the pleasure of meeting him.

Quirky and particular as to his likes and dislikes, Angus' riders admit that his personality grows on them like moss; to know him, and accept him as he truly is, is to love him, and to find a loyal friend in return.

Angus has been an integral part of the team at Great and Small and has been participating in the Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) program since 2017. Since then, the Thoroughbred gelding has served over 100 adult and child riders with special needs in both therapeutic riding lessons as well as in Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) and hippotherapy sessions. Angus possesses all the qualities of an excellent therapy horse: calm, tractable, and able to build confidence in each and every special needs participant with whom he comes into contact.

Purchased in October 2003 by event rider Katy Hansen, she describes Angus as "endearingly grumpy." On the racetrack, where Angus was a 7-furlong sprinter on dirt and won over $60,000, he made sure he always broke away first since he opposed having mud on his face. "When others moved past him, his M.O. was to slow down because he didn't think it worth the effort to keep up with them," Hansen added.

Only a year off from racing, Katy re-trained Angus as an event horse and competed with him through Training level under the United States Eventing Association (USEA) name 'Scotch on the Rocks.' Next, Angus enjoyed his time as a fox hunter and trail horse. A heart murmur diagnosis led him to the next journey of his career, which was giving riding experience and confidence to Katy's young daughter and other inexperienced riders.

Katy continued, "He's undoubtedly confident, a horse who always knows exactly who he is and is very decided about his likes and dislikes. It makes him a spectacularly honest, reliable equine. He's also adaptable, a quick learner with a great work ethic. Once he knows what to do, he locks in to his job."

Angus is a dependable member in the EAAT program, as he is happy to work on-lead with a new or timid rider or help advance the skills of a more experienced student who rides independently.

Claire Vermilyea, a 15-year-old rider at Great and Small, is one of Angus' biggest fans. She said that some of Angus' best qualities include "his eagerness to go, his sensitivity to signals, his smooth gaits, and his friendliness." Claire, who has been riding since she was eight years old, said that her proudest moment with Angus was when they had their first intentional canter together.

As a volunteer manager at Great and Small since 2016, Katy luckily gets to witness firsthand the same magic the riders experience with Angus that she felt throughout the pair's eventing career.

"For all the pride I felt in him as an event horse, it doesn't match the joy I have felt watching him transition into his role as therapy horse," Katy said. "There is a deep sense of satisfaction hearing others discuss their affection for him, and seeing his calm presence and self-possession create a comforting stability for riders who need to build confidence. Seeing this confirms all that I know about who he is and what a gift he's been to me. Seeing him be that gift to others is my proudest moment."

Angus' contributions can be seen in the countless smiles, personal accomplishments and self-growth of the riders and volunteers at Great and Small Therapeutic Riding. He leaves a lasting impression on the hearts of all those who meet him and will continue to capture the hearts of those who get to know him as he enters his well-deserved spot in the Horse Stars Hall of Fame.