Memories of Elmer Bandit

Memories of Elmer Bandit

Photo: Ron Osborn

National competitive trail mileage record holder Elmer Bandit, 38, passed away Feb. 14 in the pasture of his longtime boarding stable, surrounded by several friends and his lifelong owner, Mary Anna Wood.

Following his final competition in September 2009 Elmer’s lifetime mileage stood at 20,780 miles, surpassing the previous record held by Wing Tempo. Elmer won numerous National Championships over his 34-year career.

Readers of The Horse have enthusiastically followed Elmer through competitions, dressage lessons, and more, since spring 2008 due to dedicated reporting by Marsha Hayes.

Reader Reactions:

Deepest prayers & sympathy on your loss. It was a joy reading of your adventures. RIP .


So sorry to hear. He was a grand ole fellow and I enjoyed reading about his accomplishments. My prayers and sympathy go out to you.


You and Elmer have been an inspiration to many of us. Your heart must be full of memories.


You are in my prayers. I enjoyed reading and being kept inform about you and Elmer through with his accomplishments. What a outstanding horse.  You will have a life time memories of you and Elmer that will always be in your heart. May God Bless you.


I was so saddened to hear about your loss.  After so many years it must be like losing a child.  But you gave him a life most horses could only dream of.  Maybe this wasn't the ending you would have chosen, but no matter how prepared we think we are, we're never REALLY ready for the end no matter how it comes.  I'm sure it's difficult to see beyond your sadness today, but I hope looking back at all those wonderful years will comfort you tomorrow.  We're all thinking of you.    


I have such admiration for both you and Elmer Bandit.  What a team you were.  I can only imagine your sense of loss. My condolences to you.  You had a one in a million horse.


Remarkable horse, remarkable life.  My sincere condolences to Ms. Wood.  Rest now, dear Elmer.


Don't even know what to say!  Pray for peace for you and want to thank you and Elmer for something to believe in and look forward to hearing about!


Anna, so sorry for your loss... Elmer Bandit was truly an amazing horse - he was my HERO!


Sincere condolences over the loss of your beloved Elmer. I so enjoyed reading about all of his record-setting adventures. What a phenomenal horse! - with an equally phenomenal owner. Thank you for setting the standard for love, care and comfort, especially for geriatric animals. RIP, dearest Elmer. We will remember you forever.


Mary Anna, you and Elmer are such an inspiration! The experiences the two of you have shared and the country you have seen with Elmer is amazing. I commend you for caring so well for your friend.  I look forward to seeing you on the trails.


Elmer Bandit was an amazing horse. The partnership you had with him is something all caregivers should aspire toward. He was very lucky to have you and you to have him.


Sincere condolences on the loss of this great horse both to the owner and everyone who loved him.  RIP Elmer


I'm so sorry for your loss.  I have enjoyed reading about Elmer Bandit, he is truly an inspiration and a wonderful horse.  Whenever people tell me that my 25 year old Arab is old, I always use Elmer Bandit as an example of what older Arabs can do.  Elmer and my horse, Mark, are something like third cousins once removed, and I hope Mark can be like his cousin and live a great long and happy life.


What a wonderful, and knowledgable lady you must be to be able to prolong a horses life in such good health. It is absolutely incredible to see a horse still competing at such an old age. It must have broken your heart to have to loose him.God bless you for not allowing him to suffer and allowing him the diginity of quietly going to sleep.


I have followed your journey with your stellar companion,Elmer Bandit. I am sorry for your loss but want you to know what a joy it has been to read about you and Elmer. What a team!  Horses like Elmer truly come along once in a blue moon, Which hopefully Elmer saw, just recently.  His spirit will live on in many.  Thank you for sharing your incredible journey. You may think you chose him, but I am certain her chose you to be his life long companion.


Ms. Wood, you have my heartfelt sympathies on the loss of your beloved Elmer. I enjoyed reading about your adventures very much, and am saddened to know that this chapter has now been closed.  Many hugs to you for needing to make the decision you made, but thank you for allowing him to go peacefully and not in pain.  He was very lucky to have you in his corner.  Godspeed, Elmer Bandit!


Ms. Wood, May all the angel's wings surround you for comfort. I feel blessed to "ride along" on your incredible journey-Thank you  and Elmer !  You are the best Mom ever ever to him. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Please know that many prayers are being sent to both of you. Bless you.


This started as a bit of a joke, but honestly donations would be appreciated. Mary Anna mentioned that "in lieu of flowers, people should make a donation to the NATRC Trails Fund instead." Like I said, started as a joke, but a good idea!


I am so sorry for your loss. He was an amazing horse. You to inspired me and I am sad that he is gone.  Hope to see you riding your new horse in the future.


Ms. Wood, Elmer Bandit's physical presence has dissipated, but his endurance, inspiration, and beauty will forever be engraved in our hearts and minds.  Thank you for sharing his lifetime of accomplishments and love with us.  How fortunate you were to have each other for so many years.  May the joy you shared with Elmer grant you peace in the days ahead. God Bless and Keep You.  


What an inspiring and amazing horse, and what a privilege for us all to have shared vicariously in his exploits.  Please accept my deepest condolences on your loss and know how very de  Godspeed, Elmer! eply you have touched so many lives.


The horse world has lost a beautiful, bright shining star.  Elmer and you were truly an inspiration to all of us.  In remembrance of his great heart, hopefully, someone will create an Elmer Bandit Memorial Endurance Ride to continue his legacy. Thank you for sharing Elmer with all of us.  God Bless.


I'm so sorry to hear that your beloved Elmer has passed.  I pray that your many years of memories will help you during this time.  You two have helped others to see just how wonderful maturity is and that it's not a time to hang up your boots, but to get out there and ride.  I hope others value and appreciate their older horses. I know I do.


Dear Ms.Wood, Our thoughts and prayers are with you.  Elmer was a wonderful horse and a testament to your love and diligent care. We will all miss him.


Dear Mary Anna, you will never know how much you and your dear horse, Elmer Bandit, have inspired me! I remember meeting you at the CHA International Conference in Kentucky.  Not only did we share a dressage lesson there, but since I had my laptop with me, together we perused the web for news of Elmer's newly set world record. I was so amazed and inspired by you and Elmer that I went home and began a search for my Arab endurance horse.  Harley (3 yr Arab) and I are in the infancy stages of training, and every time my butt gets sore and I'm ready to quit I think of you and Elmer and all the miles you two put on together...and I keep on going!  Thanks for being my friend and inspiration. You two will always be in my heart with every ride I take! Much Love, Gayle


I loved reading about Elmer's adventures. He was an inspiration to so many. I hope I will be able to keep my special horse for the rest of his natural life as you were able to do. You have a lifetime of so many wonderful memories to keep in your heart.


I'm so sorry for the loss of Elmer. I have followed his story for awhile and enjoyed reading about you and him. You two were an amazing team. I'm happy you got to have so many wonderful years with him.

RIP Elmer. You are a great loss to the endurance world.


Mary Anna,

I have watched your progress over the last 3 years. You have been inspirational to me in many areas. My heart goes out to you, but it was time and Elmer knew you would understand. Your memories together would make a great book, that I would buy in a minute. Please consider writing about all your adventures with Elmer for the past 30 + years. You were a match made in Heaven.


Dear Mary Anna, I just read about your loss of Elmer and I am so very sorry. 38 years young, how amazing is that! You must have taken excellent care of him and I'm sure he loved you for that. Only time will heal your broken heart. My prayers are with you.


God must have needed a new mount with a big heart to go the distance.....God bless you...till you meet again!


May you meet again on the other side of the rainbow bridge!


I don;t know you or did I know Elmer but I have a 20 year young Arab that has the same spirit!  I pray to God I can keep him as happy as Elmer was with You Mary Anna.   Thank you for showing me that age is just a number with horses.  love and care mark the years... My baby - Malabar's Thunder Mountain (AKA Midnite) & I give your our love and strength in this difficult time.


Mary Anna, I am so very sorry for your loss.  Elmer was a great horse.  I met him many years ago when I was just starting coompetitive trail riding. You are in my thoughts and prayers.  Rest in peace, Elmer Bandit, Rest in peace.


I am sure that Elmer Bandit had a wonderful life thanks to all the love and care you have given him.  I would have so liked to have met him.  The great stories of him will live on with in the hearts of all that read about him or met him.  I am so very sorry for your loss.  Someday you will meet with him again.  The wonderful memories that you have of him are a great treasure that he has left for you.  


My heart goes out to you during this very difficult time! To some of us our Horses become family and a forever friend.  Although, Elmer touched your life in many ways for quite some time, I know he has touched your heart forever!  You were definately blessed, in having such a magnificent horse in your life.  

Marla & Carroll County 4-H Saddle Club

Pingback from  rip elmer bandit

You and Elmer have been such an inspiration to me and Bar, my 28 year old Appy companion. The fact that Elmer continued to be hale and hearty and ridable into his old age has encouraged me to continue to take advantage of the fact my wonderful companion of 26 years now is still my favourite ride. These once in a lifetime horses are treasures beyond compare and their memories will enrich our lives forever...and in Elmer's case, MANY people's lives!


I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend Elmer. I hope that you can find comfort and peace in all of the wonderful memories that the two of you made together.

I have been taking care of a 37 year old QH for the past 6 years and I know that when he passes it will be a truly sad day in my life.

Take care.


I am so very, very sorry about Elmer's passing.  He was obviously a wonderful horse - an incredible soul - and my heart goes out to you in your time of grief.  I lost my best friend, a Thoroughbred gelding, at the age of 26 last year.  We had been together for 21 years.  You are so lucky to have had so many wonderful years with Elmer - and so many fantastic memories.  You and Elmer are in my thoughts and prayers.


I am so amazed at the energy and love a horse can bring to us and Elmer is a true testiment to that. I am sure he is with you everyday and watches over you still as you have always watched over him. Until you meet again remember he is always there. Prayers and positive thought coming your way to ease your heart. You have touched the hearts of many of us from all over even in a small community in Nova Scotia Canada where I live.



Never has a horse inspired me more.  Not knowing about the sport of "Endurance", I was in awe of every accomplishment.  My heart is with you.



Mary Anna

We share your loss of Elmer and know how much he will be missed.


One of the hardest decisions but a decision made out of love.  

RIP Elmer

{{{Mary Anna}}}


You are in my prayers. I have a horse that my father raised before he apssed and I can only imagine what you may be going through. That was the hardiest choice you will ever make in life, but be happy you was there to help him pass and let him go.



I have followed the articles about you and Elmer for years.  My heartfelt condolences to you and to all who held Elmer in their hearts. Your partnership with him has given all of us who cherish our senior horses a target to shoot for. Thank you for that.  

From Patty and my beloved 31 year old Quarter Horse "My Geisha"  


Mary Anna,

You demonstrated your love for Elmer to the end.  How hard!  As the owner of two arab/quarter horses, both gray, one 30, I am empathizing with you and hoping I won't have to any time soon....but will be brave enough to show my old man how much I love him to the end.  As you did for your partner.  Hugggggs


I am sorry for your loss.  You and Elmer will be in my thoughts and prayers.  God bless!


What a great, big-hearted horse, and what a lucky person you are to have been 'along for the ride' all these years! He was certainly amazing, incredible, and a joy to watch. My thoughts and prayers are with you.  


I am so sorry for your loss.  I've had to make the decision to euthanize two of my horses over the years. Know it is the most loving and honorable choice for your beloved horse. You both have been and still are an inspiration to us all. With love and light my heart goes out to you.


Your love and commitment to Elmer was evident in his many milestones. I have followed the inspirational stories for the last couple of years and it makes me hold out hope that myself and my aging friends can keep having fun until the end.


Ms. Wood, I have always loved to read about you and Elmer Bandit.  Thank you for being such a good friend to him, and for allowing us to know both of you.


I have followed the story of Elmer for a while now and I'm sad to here that we have lost such a great horse. The stories of Elmer and you achieving your goals gave me more motivation to work with my horse and get him into trail ready shape. Thank you Mary Anna and Elmer Bandit for helping many riders! My thoughts & prayers are with you Mary Anna!


Was so very sorry to hear about Elmer's passing, tho i never met you or Elmer, i read everything about you, and your journey's together, i could find. RIP Elmer, you were truly amazing and one of a kind!


Mary Anna,

No words can express how sorry I am for you breath caught and my eyes welled up when I saw the news.  I am sure you have lost the love of your life. May God ease your sorrow and love Elmer for you until you meet again.


I am so sorry to hear about Elmer. I always looked forward to reading about your next ride or how he was doing, Ms Wood, please know my prayers are with you. RIP Elmer, you are very loved.


My heartfelt condolences to you for the loss of Elmer. He will be greatly missed, but always remembered!


MS.Woods, Sincerest thoughts and prayers for both of you. Remember the nikkers, the horse hugs, and the smiles he gifted you. He'll await you at "Rainbow Bridge".

"Thank You Spirit Horse!  Your gift of Freedom is the first step of my soul’s journey to heaven.  Needless to say, if at that journeys end, I arrive to find you missing.  I’ll be sure to look for accommodations elsewhere."


How blessed were you to have him and he to have you! And the memories you have to treasure!  Continue to share your love and knowledge with others and Elmer will continue to be with you always.  You WILL ride him again.

God bless you both.


Mary Anna, I'm so sorry that you've lost your dear friend Elmer. He meant so much to all of us; I can imagine how special he has been to you. You have shared so much together, traveled so far together, loved so much together! You have my deepest sympathy. Thank you for taking such good care of him and for allowing him to be an inspiration and source of joy for everyone. Blessings to you and yours. Christa Lesté-Lasserre


Mary Anna, horses, like all of God's beautiful creatures, were put in our lives to help us and for us to enjoy. You were very fortunate to have Elmer for such a long time AND to be able to compete with him into his later years. It was a joy to follow your story here online as Elmer represented those "senior" horses out there. I had 3 out of 4 of my horses live into their 30's and they enjoyed productive, useful, full lives. The problem with them living so long, however, is you get that much more attached which makes it even more difficult to say 'goodbye.' Rest assured that Elmer has gone ahead of you and is waiting on the other other side of that "Rainbow Bridge" like the poem says! My thoughts and prayers are with you at this most difficult time.


Ms. Wood, I am very sorry for your loss. You and Elmer's lifetime of companionship have been an inspiration to us who have geriatric animals! Even though it does take extra time and effort, you have proven that our old friends still want to be worked with, to be loved, and to be happy.  


What sad news of such a wonderful companion and athlete. And he was an inspiration to friends who own a 27 year old horse who wanted to give it away for fear their children would witness it die. I emailed them pictures and stories about Elmer Bandit, they kept the horse and have it to this day. God Bless you Mary Anna and know that Elmer Bandit is not alone. He took with him all the love and respect from all of us who followed his triumps and record setting trail miles. He in turn gave us all such hope. May he rest in peace and run with all those like hihm which have gone on to the great meadow in heaven.  


I'm so sad for your loss. I followed every article on Elmer Bandit & forwarded them to all my friends. I have a 35 year old Crabbet Arabian Mare who is the love of my life, so this sad loss hits close to home for me. Elmer Bandit had a life well lived, thank you for taking such good care of him & being an inspiration to us all.

May he rest in peace. I hope I get to meet him someday on the other side of the rainbow bridge.


You and Elmer have given me such hope and dreams for my old mare, Thank you both for sharing!


It breaks my heart to hear of your loss.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.  Thank you for sharing Elmer with us.  God bless you.

Rose Ann

Ms. Wood,

"Let the Beauty of what you love be what you do."

That was you and Elmer.

I have followed news of you both for two years. I can only imagine your sadness. You are the epitome of the possibilities in a relationship between horse and human.  You and Elmer have inspired us all with your strength, your courage, your spirit.


My heart pours out to you, what a bond and inspiration the both of you are !!!  

Just know he will always be with you in spirit and the day you will be re-united will be the most glorious.


God bless you.  I loved following the stories of you and dear Elmer.  The following was sent to me when I lost my 35 yr. old equine friend last year.  I hope you will find some comfort in the words as I did.

"Death Is Nothing At All"

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room.

I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name; speak to me in the easy way that you always used.

Put no difference in your tone; wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Pray, smile, think of me, pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household name that it always was,

Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.

All is well......

(Henry Scott Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral)


Mary Anna, He was a wonder.  A horse like Elmer Bandit is so special and was loved by so many people that never had the chance to know him.  

You did an amazing job loving him and caring for him his whole life, you should be very proud of what a great horse Mom you are.

I wish you all the best and my heart breaks for you right now.


Palm City, FL


Mary Anna and Elmer Bandit,

Both athletes wihth strength and heart! Thank you for sharing your rides with us.


You are always with Elmer and Elmer is always with you.  Don't ever forget that; nothing can change it.

What a wonderful gift the universe gave you when Elmer came into your life; what a wonderful gift you gave him through your love.  

And, what a wonderful gift you BOTH gave the rest of the world--by letting us share your life from afar, or up close.  

I know that your heart hurts, but I know also that the hurt will be tempered with memories of the love and life the two of you shared.  The hurt and the joy are part of the same thing, just as you and Elmer are part of the same beautiful thing that can magically occur between beings.

My love to both of you.


I so enjoyed reading about Elmer and his adventures and was so surprised to hear of his passing. At our farm we were experiencing the same type of thing as one of my dear friends horse went down in her stall.  She was 30 and had to be put down also.  

While I know that its so hard right now, bask in your memories of him and have comfort with the fact that when they go over that rainbow bridge, there is no more pain and they just play and wait until you can join them.

God Bless you!


Mary Anna, I can only imagine the heartbreak you must feel after 38 years and 20,000 miles with Elmer.  He was a phenomenal horse, and you are what every horse owner should aspire to, caring for him his entire life.  You are in my thoughts.


Mary Anna, I know the hearbreak you are dealing with and I know that even with all of the wonderful memories you have, and others will share with you, there will be some days of deep saddness.  You have lost a vital part of your life, and all of us in the horse community share your pain and loss.  You and Elmer were such a wonderful inspiration for all of us, older riders, ones with difficulties getting around, whatever.  It was wonderful knowing that no matter what, you and Elmer would be there.  He will be missed by MANY along with you.  Thank you for sharing him with us, and may God help the hurt in your heart with the knowledge that Elmer really isn't that far away because he will always be in your heart.  God bless you and Elmer's are in my thoughts and prayers. Deby


My deepest condolence for  your loss of your beloved Elmer. Followed you on the and you and Elmer have been an inspiration to me as I own and ride a 23 year old Appalossa who has lost one eye to uvaitis and has partial vison in the remaining eye. At the present moment we are in Tampa,Fl. where I work as an assitant trainer and he works as the stable lead pony. My heart goes out to you for your loss.I'm sure Elmer loved his life.

God bless you Mary Anna.


I have followed the Elmer & Mary Anna Wood partnership since I became aware of it down here in Australia and I hope my aging horse will still be up to rides in hils older age. I have written an articole on older horses on and am/was hoping to add something about Elmer if deemed suitable to dispell the myth about anything older than 20 being unrideable, whereas it will usually benefit the long term health of a horse to have some continuing exercise. My warmes regards to you at this time.


How fitting?  A truly loved horse on the most loving of holidays - Valentine's Day.  I have an 18 yr. old TB and it gives me hope hearing of Elmer's trails that my horse will be with me a very long time.  Thank you Elmer for giving us senior horse owners hope.  You will surely be missed.  My heartfelt condolences to Anna.  You have lost your best friend, but know that he lives within your memory for a lifetime.  See you in heaven you dear fella!  


I am so sorry for your loss but what an honor it was for you to have had him with you for so long.

Remember the good times!


I am so sorry for your loss.  Your legacy and story has inspired many to carry on with their faithful horse and plan ahead into retirment years.  You and your boy gave courage to many to continue to ride, to adapt and thrive.  You gave us a gift to continue the ride.

Sophiea Q

Mary Ann, I am so sorry for your loss. I have an older horse that I love dearly and will think of Elmer Bandit when I look at him. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this very difficult time.


My deepest sympathies on the loss of your old friend.  Helen Keller said "What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.  


Dear Mary Ann, Though we've never met, I -- like many other horse lovers -- feel as if we've gotten to know you through the wonderful, uplifting stories of your accomplishments with your inimitable partner, Elmer Bandit. A good friend of mine recently lost her much loved Arab-cross gelding, and I wrote this poem for her, which I will now share with you in hopes that it may bring you some small comfort:

Your Trip to Heaven

What was your trip to Heaven like?

I can only imagine...

But I see you, running fleet and sure

Your feet shod in lightning,

Your mane flying though the darkening skies,

Stars catching like tiny burrs of gold.

Your guides and companions:

A playful herd of thundering clouds,

A mist that forms

Here a proudly arched neck,

There a trim flank, a flashing hoof

And everywhere, eyes shining and kind,

Beckoning you on,

Calling you home to an endless land

Where grows the sweetest clover,

The richest fields of dancing grass,

There to meet all those who came before:

The grand and the glorious

The humble and mild

The ancient ones who began your race,

All family,

All calling to you with soft nickers,

Ears pricked with excitement,


As for my trip to Heaven?

I already know what it will be like…

Because I’ve ridden you.

You are a very special lady, Mary Ann. Thank you for showing us what a good woman and a good horse can do.

Susan Kauffmann

I am so very sorry. A lifetime together, what a special gift! And you and Elmer Bandit are a special gift to all of us. It is with admiration and heartfelt thoughts and prayers that I offer my condolences. God bless.


One amazing horse has earned his wings....I have enjoyed keeping up with the exploits of Elmer for several years. I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

"Somewhere in time's own space

There must be some sweet pastured place

Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow

Some paradise where horses go,

For by the love that guides my pen

I know great horses live again."

~Stanley Harrison


Thank you for always letting us be apart of your lives. You and your beloved friend have been an inspiration over the years. I have followed his progress and was even speaking about him today while attending the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. Then the news came. I am so devastated for your loss and the worlds loss.


Mary Ann,

I own a grey arabian and I almost lost her to a stricture. When I read of Elmer's death it affected me deeply. Almost losing my arabian was very hard so I can only imagine how difficult this is for you. You are in my prayers. He was truly an amazing horse. Looking into those  large arabian eyes is like looking into a deep knowledge and a very big heart and soul. I truly belive that his spirit lives on today.


May you be strong through this hard time. I am truly sorry for your loss. You both are inspirational!


I was so sorry to hear about Elmer Bandit.  I joyfully read about each ride that he made and was holding my breath that he would make the record.  He had a great life and had a wonderful owner.  My sympathies are with you and having lost a competitive trail horse myself, I know what you are going through.  Just remember that each horse is different and they all have greatness!

Janet (mom of 2 arabs)

I remember you and Elmer from the mid-'70's. I moved away for several years, returned in the mid-80's and there you both were, still competing. What a team! Then the '90's and into the new century - it was simply the most amazing partnership I have ever witnessed and I loved reading about you and Elmer. What a beautiful and joy filled life you had with him. God bless you both.


you don't know me, but i have followed Elmer and you for a long time....his great heart and acomplishments have moved and inspired me. please accept my condolences...this great horse will always be remembered and charished in my heart. i grieve with you as i have lost too.

God bless you and this wonderful legend. I will miss you both.


I'm SO sorry for your loss - Elmer was amazing & he was so lucky to have you as his owner.  I have been envious of your relationship for a couple of years now -- because my own 'best guy' was euthanized at 24.  I hope your memories comfort your heart; and also hope you find comfort knowing you will see him again at the Rainbow Bridge.


Mary Anna....we are so sorry to hear of your loss of Elmer.  I've ready many articles on you two.  You both were true inspirations for me.  (a mature woman returning to horses after many years.)  Please accept our condolences.  Sincerely, Beth and PeeWee (30 years old this May) and Katie and Blue


I've been overjoyed at seeing you and Elmer's success over time.  It's been a thrill to see such a determined team setting records in so many ways.

I hope that somehow you will meet the coming days with enough memories to fill the void.

Looks like hundreds of us are with you.


Sincere condolences over the loss of such a spectatular friend.  Please know that your love and dedication to Elmer was and is an inspiration to so many of us.  God bless you and Elmer.


My heart aches with yours because I understand your great loss...till you two meet again may your memories of Elmer comfort you.


I have been crying for you and for Elmer all day!!  I am so sorry for your loss...I personally have you and your amazing horse to thank for convincing me that I could save my own miracle Arab--I got her sick, starved, and ready to die at age 29....she just turned 31 on Thursday, thanks to Elmer teaching me that an old horse can live much longer (with the proper care) than people often think.  After reading of your loss, I went and cried into Sonata's mane and hugged her extra hard for you and Elmer.  I can't wait to meet him someday over the Rainbow Bridge.

And remember what the Bedouins think happens to Arabians when they pass: they rejoin the Wind where they can run endlessly and never, ever tire.  They only come back to earth for a special mission with a new human companion. And only when they choose to....he was a blessing from God, and he chose you.

adela henninger and Sonata

MaryAnna please accept our deepest sympathies at Elmer's passing. You may wonder, as we did when our 'old man of the desert' Prism of Prophecy left us in December, if there was 'something else' you could have done to keep him with you longer. Do not dwell there too long. His last sight was the open fields he loved with you at his side. Your care methods and dedication has given me hope for continued health for the five mares over twenty five years of age that we still have, and I will think of both Prism and Elmer often as I care for them.  


Mary Anna,

My husband and I are so sorry for your loss.  Elmer is my hero.  We have three Arabians:  Fire (22), Kierra (21), and Flyboy (25).  We have just started competing Fire and Kierra in distance and they will carry on in Elmer's memory.  Your success with Elmer in distance gave my husband and I the security of knowing we weren't pushing our babies too far at their ages.  We only plan on doing a max of 30 miles so Elmer will always have us beat there!  We will sing his praise every time we ride.  Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you.


Dear Mary, You have lost a very special friend on a very special day.  There are no words to comfort at a time like this.  It's heart wrenching.  I just sent Elmer's diet to my friend who has a 27 yr. old Thorouhbred that needs special care now.  I just learned of Elmer's passing on this website.  May Elmer's great Spirit traverse the great beyond.  Bless you for being such a loving caregiver.  Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.  


Mary Anna,

I am sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved Elmer Bandit.

I regret never getting to meet you and Elmer Bandit.

I know he was greeted by many

wonderful horses, as he left this life for his new life in eternal peace.

RIP Elmer, you are missed.


I am so sorry of the loss of Elmer, he was such a great horse. I have been following his story and achievements for the last 2 years through The from England. I have loved his tales of success and looked forward to updates of this great man. Having lost my mare of 30 years only 10 months ago I know the loss you will all be feeling, so to be reading this now is very sad and my thoughts are with you. Run free Elmer Bandit. Your memory will always be in the wind brushing our faces and in our hair. XXX

Sharon D - Yorkshire, England

Mary Anna, deepest sympathies on the loss of Elmer. Logged a few miles with you in the 86-87 season and always enjoyed you and Elmer. What a team you were!! Lots of great memories there for sure. Take care and know that Elmer has a lasting place in NATRC history. What a great horse. All of us that have lost our horses have you in our hearts. Lost my NATRC horse a few years back at 28 and last month my 31 yr old kid horse. Its hard and sad, but what a great ride it is too. Take care, my thoughts are with you. Chris F


Mary, I as so sorry for the loss of your woderful friend Elmer.  I have enjoyed reading and keeping up with your journey thru the trails.  I am blessed to say I am owned by 3 Arabians: Lacy (25) Dee-Dee (20) and Annie (12) and age means nothing to them. When an Arab enters your heart it won't let go. Elmer was so blessed to have you as his caregiver and life long friend, you are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.


Anyone who has ever had a equine partner who is/was all heart and giving will grieve at the passing of one of the all time greats.  He was loved and went out quietly.

George W

Grieving for you in the Mojave.


My sincerest sympathy on the loss of your handsome Elmer. No matter how long or how short a time we have to share with our beloved horses in this life, we all wish they could be with us forever. Heaven will not deny us this.


Dear Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. I met you in Mich. at the CHA Conference in 2002 or 03. We rode in a lesson together with JoAnn Young. Elmer was a great horse. My heart cries with yours for a best friend no longer here in body but always with you in spirit. Love Debby


Hello Mary - I live in France but have followed yours exploits with Elmer for some time now, and am full of admiration for both of you. You are an inspiring person, and Elmer B. was an amazing horse, thank you.


As horse owners, there are those steeds that are a giant part of your heart.  I know your loss, just lost my 30 yr old friend.  May you enjoy all the love he gave you for so many years and miles.  I am very sad for you.

Patti Crowther

His life should be celebrated! What a wonderful horse and owner. You are both an inspiration to all. Especially us senior riders!!! God Bless


Kelpie. I'm at such a loss for words that would express the hurt I feel for you. I have such fond memories of our horse packing summers at NCW. It was an honor to know Elmer and see him at his best on the open range doing what I know he loved with the person he loved. My heart is with you.  Shadow (Carol)


Our deepest sympathy on your loss.  I want to know that we are feeding our seniors Elmers diet, and it has done wonders for them, especially the 28 year old.  He plays and frolics like a colt now.   Elmer is still out there helping, Kathryn and Wayne


Dear Ms Woods,

I had tears in my eyes as I read about the passing of your wonderful horse.  I have only followed your horse through articles, but still deeply saddened by his loss.

May you find peace in your memories and comfort in the support of your horse community.


Prayers to Mary Anna, such a wonderful life you and Elmer had, a true inspiration to so many. Elmer is with Gods herd, waiting for his lifelong companion to join him one day. A true champion~ Elmer Bandit!!


He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Psalm 23

We all loved reading about Elmer Bandit. He lives forever in our hearts.


So sorry for your loss of Elmer...a gorgeous horse who was your friend, your partner and your champion.


I'm so sorry for your huge loss!  Elmer Bandit was amazing, and so are you as his friend and caretaker.  I can only imagine the trials and tribulations coming up with just the right diet for him.  He joins my wonderful 30 y/o, hard to find the right diet for, Ali, who went to God's Stable in July.

God bless.



My thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time. I am sorry for your loss of a great horse that gave you everything through the years. Elmer, Rest in peace old friend.


Mary Ann, You are an example to all of us on how to love and care for our horses. Elmer was undoubtedly a great horse deserving of a special owner like you. My sympathies to you on your loss. Rest in peace Elmer.


Some where in times own space,there must be some sweet pastured place where creeks sing on and tall trees grow, some paradise where horses go. For by the love that guides my pen, I know great horses live again. Stanley Harrison. I just lost a 32 year old Quarter horse Jan.25. He was down over night and could not get up. Sorry for your loss, Bob.


I am sure this was the hardest decision you have ever had to make. Your final act of love for your faithful companion took tremendous compassion and heart aches for your loss and grief.  You are a wonderful horsewoman and an inspiration to us all!


Mary Anna, I always considered Lily & I so fortunate to be in the same Region with you & Elmer. You two have been our heroes, right from the first competition up at Brushy Creek several years ago. You took care of me on that first day of competing when I got bleeding inside-knee saddle sores! Your remedy was Desitin and duct tape - I'll never forget what you said - "well, the first thing we have to do is figure out how to get you fit to ride tomorrow!" Your determination & positive attitude has always been my beacon, my goal.  Lil just adored Elmer & it drove her crazy when he would leave her little Novice self behind on the trail. You always amazed me with your selflessness - how you always put him first, always thought of his well-being.  And now you've kept that up right to the end, taking care of him, doing right by him. I haven't been able to get you out of my thoughts this past week.  Just know that your friends are praying for you and are there with you in spirit as your heart heals from this loss. with love, Angela & Lily


I only know of Elmer through my subscription to The Horse, but I still cried. What an amazing team you are.


Dear Mary Anna: We met only during one week of Linda's clinic at Ocamoro, NM.  That was over 20 years ago.  I've followed your and Elmer's career since then, and often told my friends out here in the Phoenix area about Elmer and you and that I had had the week with you at the camp.  No one can actually feel your loss, but know that we all are thinking of you and Elmer.  He was a GREAT horse.

Ann Champlin


Dear Mary Anna,

I am so sorry for your loss.  Your dear friend will be missed.  The story of your remarkable partnership with Elmer is inspiring to all.


Martha M. Day

Director of Designated Qualified Persons and Animal Welfare

National Walking Horse Association


Ms. Woods,

I didn't know about you and Elmer until I read about his passing. My heart goes out to you and I hope you are finding comfort in the memories your heart holds of your amazing friend. I have been very moved by the notes left by everyone on this site because they are a testament to your and Elmer's relationship. I look forward to reading more about the adventures you had with him. I'm so sorry.


I am so sorry for your loss. What an amazing horse!  You were so blessed to be able to enjoy Elmer for so many years and he was so blessed to have you take such good care of him.  May God bless you both!


You and Elmer have enriched the lives of many as this list of condolences testifies.  You have honored one another and all of us by revealing what love and commitment between woman and horse can make possible.  Bless you in you memories.


Dear Mary Anna,

Elmer Bandit was a remarkable horse.

He was lucky to have you in his life for a very long time. Godspeed Elmer.


Ms Wood,

 May these many words of encouragement give you strength and peace. I thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.

God Bless

Jo Wright

San Diego


Dear Mary Anna-

Thank you for sharing your Elmer adventures with us. Elmer was an incredible horse, and the commitment and love that you gave him should be an inspiration to us all. You are a true horsewoman, and my thoughts are with you.


Happy trails Elmer, thanks for sharing him with us Mary Anna.


Dear Mary Anna,

We have never met however I feel like I know you through reading about your adventures with Elmer. It's never easy loosing your best friend my thoughts are with you. Where the soul of a human seeks the heart of the horse.


It was such fun to be acquainted with Elmer -even if only in stories. My dear boy is a 27y/o retired race horse, and I know the feelings one gets as you see them slowing down, a hip beginning to bother on the cold days,difficulty chewing, etc,- but,OH!When the sun is bright and the day is warm, he thinks he is a colt again, frisking and galloping into the corral and skidding to a halt about 6" from me, tossing his head, mane flying.  It looks almost like he's got a smile on his face. Special diet, special hoof care, just alot of little things to keep him in top shape.But I know this winter was hard on him. extra feed, the best of hay. The arthritis is showing up more all of the time. I doubt we'll make it as long as you and Elmer, but these 'good old boys' surely can be a delight and well worth the extra time and expense to keep them going. I'm sure you'll have many days that will remind you of your great friend.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Hi Mary Anna,

I kept my horse Blue out in the pasture with Elmer two summers ago and never realized until after I went back to school and sent Blue home that Elmer was such a famous horse! He was such a sweet guy, about the only one that befriended Blue who tends to be a loner :) He lived such a remarkable life and I am proud to say I got the pleasure to meet such a wonderful horse! My thoughts and prayers are with you.



I only learned of Elmer's passing last week, and was so sorry to hear. I've told many of my horsey friends about Elmer and you. I love riding trails with my horse, Abradu, who is 18. There's nothing like being partners on the trail. My heart goes out to you, Mary. He's taken a piece of your heart with him, but you will see him again, and oh, what a reunion that will be! God bless you and comfort you. Rest in peace, Elmer.


Ms. Wood,

So sorry to hear about Elmer's passing. He was so fortunate to have had you as his partner, as well as the other way round.


I was devastated to hear of Elmer Bandit's passing, and cried as though I had lost one of my own.  I've followed your journeys for many years, and know the horse world has lost one of the truly greats!  You were both an inspiration to everyone who came in contact with this amazing team, and a testament to how special the bond is between a horse and their caretaker.  Elmer may have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but will be waiting patiently for the day you two are reunited.  With deepest sorrow and sympathy.


Mary Anna-

I am so sorry for your loss.  I cried just as if I had lost my old guy.  Elmer was my equine hero.  He bolstered my hopes that my 20-yr-0ld Arab gelding will live a good long life too.  I waited my whole life for him and finally got him at 54.  Given his age I worried that we would not have much time together.  Then I read about Elmer and decided we had plenty of time because his vet is involved in all my decisions and most of our lives together.  I followed you and Elmer from that day on and can't believe I just found out about your tragedy.  It is hard to lose a partner.  You two were amazing and obviously meant for each other.  I believe your love and partnership kept you both going and winning. You will both live on in history together.

I feel your grief.  I extend to you my most sincere and understanding sympathy.

Charley - Msla, MT

He was a very pretty horse, I'm sorry for your loss.


I'm very sorry for your loss. He was a remarkable horse and you were both blessed to have each other.


Hi, Mary Anna,

I just saw the article in The Modern Arabian about Elmer and wanted to offer my sincere condolences to you on losing this wonderful horse. I remember riding a few rides with you and Elmer back in the 1980's when I lived in Kansas  and used to compete on a half-arabian mare named Chan who died a few years ago at the age of 33.  Elmer was an extraordinary horse and the two of you were a great team.  You made history!!

God bless you.


Iam sorry for your loss and commend you for the care of your great horse.

I was rather unhappy when I read of his last competition at 38 - having been around many old horses - I know how hard this had to have been on the poor old horse.

I was also surprised that he was out in the pasture in the old weather.

Sorry, but I have to tell my true feelings in this matter.


I barely heard the news about Elmer. I don't know you but you and Elmer's story has inspired me to want to understand the relationships between horses and their human friends better.  He was a truely exceptional horse and you were very lucky to have him and a very unique relationship like you did in your life.  My sister has a horse that is similar in looks and when I look at him I think of Elmer too. My condolences.


Thanks for giving me hope with my 22 year old, who acts like a 6 year old.

I know I don't know you and I didn't know Elmer; however, I love you both! I love you for your courage, inspiration, tenacity and love for each other.

That is truly unconditional love! It's also so loving that you shared it with us all! Thank you so very much!

Darcy and Cassels Nathaniel

Thank you, Mary Anna, for loving Elmer his whole life long. Thank you for having the courage to let him go.


It must be an incredibly difficult time in your life.

Thank you for being a responsible horse partner and caring for Elmer and treating him with the respect he deserved.

We should have more responsible horse owners like you in this world, it would make it a much more bearable place.



Greatness is not found in the training-it is found in the heart.


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