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Rescue horse beats odds to become champion

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Posted at 11:31 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 13:41:26-05

THOMPSON’S STATION, Tenn. — A little girl from Thompson’s Station fell in love with a rescue horse who had survived brutal conditions. Together, they beat the odds.

Riley Jones has a natural gift with animals. The 13-year-old has grown up on a farm riding horses and ponies — but none like this one.

Meet Santana, a stallion that Riley adopted. It was love at first click, and that love would open the gate of Riley’s passion for eventing competition. But because Santana was so small, competing didn't seem possible.

Who knew a little horse could have such big love — especially since Santana was once abused and left to die. Ten years ago, a rescue group found him and 37 other horses on a Middle Tennessee farm.

And so, they took a leap of faith — training day and night and traveling out of state almost every week to compete.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from you can still do it, you just got to have all the determination,” Riley said.

One event after another, Santana pushed himself beyond his limits and did the seemingly unthinkable — he won.

But now, Riley needs to move onto a bigger horse, and her family decided to lease Santana while keeping him on their farm. Thankfully, for Riley, if they lease Santana, he will eventually come back to retire on her farm with her.

This story was originally published by Amy Watson on WTVF in Nashville, Tennessee.