Horse wins despite age

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 8, 2003

At an age when most horses are simply left to roam open pastures or sent to auction, one Tennessee Walking horse by the name of Proud Dancer is still winning top awards at state competitions.

Just a few weeks ago the 32-year-old tan and white horse took home first, third, and fourth place in various categories during a show in Marion.

These recent awards are just new additions to a collection that spans over two decades.

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Carl Smith, who has owned Proud Dancer for most of the horse’s life, says the gentle fellow is somewhat of a celebrity in the horse show circuit.

Smith and Proud Dancer are so closely bonded that they practically have similar personalities.

Both tend to ignore their ages &045; they like to go fast and show up all the younger competition.

Sheryl Lawrence, a good friend who has &uot;joint custody&uot; of Proud Dancer, says she is always trying to convince the two to slow down a bit.

Lawrence tends to describe Proud Dancer as an old man who likes to do things his own way, much like Smith.

Both of Proud Dancer’s owners say there have been some health scares over the years, and they nearly lost the horse due to pneumonia and throat problems.

It might also have something to do with the horse’s easy-going spirit.

Lawrence said she is always amazed when watching the two together, especially when it seems as if the horse can understand every word Smith says.

Smith also recounted the time when a friend came by with trailer to take Proud Dancer on a trip.

Despite the many years behind these two long-time friends, neither has plans to stop competing any time soon.