Although he only stands at 33.5 inches tall, GTR Patricks Vindicator is nothing short of a giant when it comes to his talent and personality. “Patrick”, as he is known to his friends and fans, is a 1994 American Miniature Horse gelding, registered with the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). Patrick is owned, trained and exhibited by Sarah Schaaf of Shepherdsville, KY.
From humble beginnings, Patrick was born in North Carolina on a small miniature horse farm and eventually sold to a farm in Kentucky in 1996. Patrick was even used as a petting zoo horse for a short time, due to his calm and friendly disposition. It was in 1998 that he was purchased by the Schaaf family to be a pet for their daughter Sarah, age 2. Sarah and Patrick’s show career began in 2002 by attending local and state level horse shows with the Kentucky Association of Fairs and Horse Shows (KAFHS) and the AMHA. Through their formative years in the show ring, the pair competed in costume, halter and lead line. As time progressed, Sarah and Patrick worked together and learned to navigate through competitions with great success. As their partnership grew and Sarah trained him more regularly, Patrick also became successful in performance classes such as hunter, jumper, obstacle and showmanship. While competing did hold its benefits, the popularity of miniature horses in Kentucky and across the country began to decline after the recession, and Sarah and Patrick decided to dedicate their time to educating and promoting the miniature horse through entertaining and informative demonstrations across the Bluegrass State.
Patrick’s first appearance as an equine performer and entertainer came in 2008 when he was invited to perform with the Bluegrass Miniature Horse Club at Breyerfest and has returned every year since. It was in 2015 that Patrick’s career as an equine performer truly took off thanks to his first demonstration at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event. From his first show, he has been a hit with large crowds. During demonstrations, Patrick displays the graceful movement, versatility and talent of the miniature horse. When the music begins, Patrick knows that it is time to perform and begins what he is best known for- his jumping abilities. Patrick has reached heights of up to 4 feet- far higher than many horses of an average height. Patrick clears jumps that reach far over his head throughout his demos, wowing the crowds and dispelling any beliefs that miniature horses are simply supposed to look cute. Patrick feeds off the crowds, jumping higher and becoming more energetic as the cheers of the crowd grow louder. Interspersed in his jumping routine, Patrick also displays the intelligence of the miniature horse by performing a variety of tricks. He can bow, stand on a pedestal, shake “hands”, give kisses, give hugs, spin on command, rear, circus bow and lie down (with a pillow and blanket). These require an intelligent and willing horse as well as a great display of trust and that not many horses can achieve. Patrick’s demonstrations have been so popular that he has been asked to perform at events across the state of Kentucky such as the CP National Horse Show, Secretariat Festival, Morning Trackside at Keeneland, Churchill Downs Family Days and the Kentucky Horse Park Breeds Barn. Patrick has also been invited to participate in the 2018 World Equestrian Games exhibitions in Tryon, NC.
In addition to demonstrating the athletic abilities of the miniature horse, Patrick is also excellent at showing their wonderful disposition. Over and over Patrick has demonstrated this wonderful personality, which is what makes him an ideal therapy horse. Since 2013, Patrick has been a registered therapy horse having been evaluated by Pet Partners and receiving the highest rating possible. Patrick is approved to visit schools, nursing homes, hospitals and even mental institutions. Patrick has made numerous visits in the Louisville area to enrich the lives of patients in assisted living homes and hospitals. On visits, Patrick dons his build-a-bear sneakers, rides in the elevator and goes into the rooms of patients. He will lay his chin on their bed or their laps and allow them to pet and talk to him. In many cases, Patrick’s visits have significantly improved the lives and moods of those he visits.
Patrick’s service as an equine ambassador, coupled with his heroic work as a therapy horse has garnered him multiple awards. In 2015, Patrick was inducted into the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association’s Hero Animal Hall of Fame. In 2016, a road in Patrick’s home town was renamed “Patrick Lane” as a recognition for his accomplishments and outstanding representation of the community and the state of Kentucky. Patrick’s most significant recognition came in 2017, when he was inducted into the USEF/ EQUUS Foundation Horse Stars Hall of Fame. Patrick was inducted because of his exemplification of the horse and human bond through his relationship with Sarah and the people he interacts with at events and therapy visits, as well as his outstanding athleticism and his work as an equine ambassador.
Patrick has also been recognized through various media outlets and on social media. Magazines such as Young Rider, Heels Down, Miniature Horse World, Noelle Floyd, and Sidelines have all featured Patrick’s story throughout his career. He has also appeared in a documentary about Penny Chenery and was a feature segment on an episode of Kentucky Life in 2017, which aired on the regional PBS affiliate channel, KET. Much of Patrick’s popularity in recent years, however, has come from his presence on social media. With over 34,000 followers between Facebook and Instagram, his pictures and videos have been spread far and wide, and his fan base spans the globe.
In 2019, Sarah's lifelong dream was fulfilled when Patrick was introduced as a Breyer Model Horse portrait model.
Pound for pound and inch for inch, Patrick is unmatched in his talent, athleticism and tender heart. Since his first appearance at Breyerfest in 2008, Patrick has been introducing men, women, boys and girls to the world of horses and creating lifelong horse lovers. Garnering national and international recognition, tens of thousands of fans. Patrick has performed at venues and events and received awards that no other miniature horse has. He has made his own space in the world and shown that, with dedication and a passion, anything is possible. From social media to international events, Patrick only grows in popularity day by day. This little horse has achieved great things in his 25 years, and is only just getting started.