Trail Record-Holder Elmer Bandit Turns 38

Elmer Bandit's 38th birthday did not go unnoticed April 8, as dawn found the Independence, Mo., temperature matching the gray half-Arabian's age.

"I brought him four apples and sang him Happy Birthday," reported his lifelong owner, Mary Anna Wood.

Elmer, with 20,720 certified competitive trail miles, holds the national mileage record, which he set last October at the age of 37. Although his amazing longevity, soundness, attitude, and drive can be attributed to several sources, the consistent care and partnership with Wood certainly play a role.

Elmer was born in 1971, just a few miles of north of where his celebrated his 38th birthday.

Elmer wearing blanket

Earlier this year, Elmer sported his blanket from his fans at

"I remember the day he was born," Wood recalled. "I was at school, teaching, when a neighbor on his way to work called the school to report a new colt in the pasture." Wood took "maternity leave" for a few hours to check on the health of the new sorrel colt and his mother.

Wednesday found Wood still checking on Elmer, adjusting his feed, and letting him know he is special.

"Actually, I sang to him twice," she reported. Was Elmer appreciative? "Well, he ate all the apples."

Elmer is scheduled to compete in a one-day competitive trail event April 25 in Cherryvale, Kan.

Humans might sometimes share the spotlight and fanfare with their horses, but most of them will admit it is in the quiet moments around the barn that the true bonds are formed. If there was to be only one attendee at Elmer's birthday, it would be the one that mattered most.

Happy Birthday, Elmer.

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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