Monday, February 21, 2011

Hadji Halef Omar Wins 2010 AHA Distance Horse of the Year

February 11, 2011
Contact: AHA
Hadji Halef Omar Wins 2010 AHA Distance Horse of the Year
Aurora, CO (February 11, 2011) - Hadji Halef Omar (Centavo x ZA Sabbaths Joy), a 1992 grey gelding, owned by Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss of Queen Creek, Ariz. has been named the 2010 AHA Distance Horse of the Year. The 10-year veteran of endurance competition has taken Palmer-DuRoss over 5,810 miles, a journey for which she is very grateful. "I am nominating Hadji for the Distance Horse of the Year Award in appreciation for all the beautiful places he has taken me and for the places we have yet to see," says Palmer-DuRoss.

"Hadji" has 112 finishes out of 114 starts with 86 finishes in the top 20. Hadji has finished in the Top Ten of half of the endurance rides he's finished with two wins and five best conditions. Together, Palmer-DuRoss and Hadji have finished 14 Pioneer rides, totaling 2,795 miles, an especially impressive feat since Pioneer rides are multi-day events consisting of 155 miles that must be completed with the same horse and rider team. "Asking your horse to do a ride and have them sound and ready to go again the next day and the next day after that requires careful management and a special horse," says Palmer-DuRoss.

In 2010 alone, Hadji was first place in the Open Event Incentive Program in Endurance, second place in the Southwest Region lightweight division, eighth overall in the Southwest region and eighth nationally in Pioneer award lightweight division. He earned two highest vet scores and completed a grand total of 765 miles.

Palmer-DuRoss found Hadji in July of 2001 after her beloved endurance mare had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. "It's commonly said that when one door closes another door opens and I truly believe that was the case," says Palmer-DuRoss who stopped by a ranch in Beaver, Utah on her way home from an endurance ride to take a look at a grey gelding. "Of course, we did have an extra spot in the horse trailer, just in case."

Hadji had been used as a string horse and already had a wonderful base of long, slow miles that serves as excellent conditioning for a lengthy endurance career. "I bought him for $1,500. It was the best money I've ever spent," says Palmer-DuRoss. Hadji has a Half-Arabian and Quarter Horse back-up, but his work ethic and eager attitude don't give the other horses much of a chance to get on the trail. "A huge amount of Hadji's success is that we ride his ride. Once I convince him not to start out too fast in the beginning he is very good at dictating his own pace," says Palmer-DuRoss.

Palmer-DuRoss transitioned Hadji to barefoot in 2007—another secret to their success. "Hadji used to interfere in the front so bad that eventually he would have had to retire early from the damage done to his legs. Being barefoot has added years to Hadji's career. He feels younger and moves out much better than he ever did in shoes. It is amazing the difference and he gets better every year. Hadji and I do quite a few rides every year and I spend a lot of time resting him between rides and at this point there is no need to overdo his conditioning. At his age and with the shape Hadji is in, he is very easy to keep fit. My best partner Hadji and I keep in condition by exploring new trails and riding with great friends."

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