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Team #577 Shaaron McCabe and Tuxedo 'N' Tail

Photo by John Borys Photography

Team #577: Shaaron McCabe and Tuxedo 'N' Tail
From: Elmwood Park, Illinois
Ages: 79 & 23
Combined Age: 102
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: June 25, 2022

Tux and I came together rather late in our lives. I had begun my quest to learn to do dressage in 1993 on my beloved and wonderful Arab, Wizard of Oz. Oz began doing dressage with Jennifer Kotylo – and doing very well. After five U.S. and Canadian National Championships, it was now my turn to show Oz. However, he began shaking his head and striking at his face - trigeminal neuralgia. I spent 10 years caring for him, during which time he also developed Cushing's, including one very severe bout of laminitis. In 2007, I finally found a place I could trust to care for him as I had – Equine Dreams Therapeutic Riding School in Newark, IL, where he lived and worked happily until he was 22, beloved by all. I was finally free to go horse shopping at age 54.

Enter Maurizio – a lovely, sweet, and talented Second Level Arab/Trakehner cross who tested out perfectly in CA, including a drug test. But from the moment he entered our barn, he became a “super spook” – at everything and nothing. I never came off, but there were close calls, and I became afraid to ride. We tried to fix him for four years, then gave up and bought Cool Hand Luke, a remarkably sensible four-year-old Arab/Quarter Horse cross. The people from whom I bought Luke sold Maurizio for me – and he never spooked a day in his life after he left our barn! Gremlins, I guess.

Luke did beautifully but now and then had a "hitch in his giddyup." After conservative treatments failed, a bone scan revealed he had congenital arthritis from poll to tail. No adult could ever ride him again. Off he went to Equine Dreams to be ridden by children Now I was 71 and didn't have the money to spend on a horse. I was having a real pity party. But on July 4, 2014, my trainer, Andi Patzwald’s, mentor, Donna Wright, called and said “We have to get this horse for Shaaron – he’s perfect!” They described him: "Tuxedo ‘N’ Tail," 15 years old, a 17-hand Percheron/Paint cross, and schooling Prix St Georges. Sounded great but I said, “Have you guys looked at me?! I’m 5’1” with short chubby legs! How am I going to mount him– with a catapult?!” 

Friends and family pushed me onto a plane to Texas – where I fell in love! Yes, I need a four-step mounting block, but he has a great “sit-upon” spot, and gaits that are good enough to score in the 60s but so soft it’s like riding a big old couch. He is virtually bomb-proof, very sweet, and the perfect teacher. He does exactly what you ask him to do – whether it’s what you thought you asked for or not. He came available because his previous owner passed away.

Tux was very healthy until April 2022 when he began stumbling. My trainer and vet both advised retirement, believing that his joints just couldn’t take it anymore. He also tested positive for EPM, which he’d had the year before. He improved with treatment and was able to be my partner for the Century Club ride. It was a great party but bittersweet as he was retired two days later.

He was on the list to go to Equine Dreams, and I had bought a new horse, a four-year-old Lusitano, Puritano Interagro. I moved both horses to McCrae Farm in Grayslake IL. The vet had said I could ride Tux at a walk and at a trot but very lightly. I began to do so, and he never put a foot wrong! The stumbling was gone! Our vet cleared him to canter in late October!

It has been a genuine miracle. He was off for nearly six months and needs re-conditioning but he’s stronger every day and is happy to be working again. To say that I am thrilled is the understatement of the century…but now I had two horses to support on a retiree’s income! Another miracle – he was fit enough for a share boarder, Amy Hagedorn, who is a good rider, conscientious, and kind. She likes Tux and he likes her. She makes it possible to keep both my boys! Tux is 23 and I turned 80 on January 9, 2023. Every day is a gift, and we are having the time of our lives!!!

Photo by John Borys Photography

Photo by John Borys Photography