Tuffy was an Alberta-bred quarter horse gelding acquired by the Whitemud Equine Centre in Edmonton in 1974 as a 10-year old lesson horse. He was one of the original horses in the Little Bits Therapeutic Riding program and taught continuously with the program for 32 years, winning the CANTRA long-service award in 1999 and the CANTRA Therapeutic Horse of the Year award in 2005. In addition, he was a regular lesson horse at Whitemud Equine Centre until 2005, acting as schoolmaster for generations of young children learning to ride. He loved children and, whenever a child visited him, would put his head down to the child's level and welcome the gentle pats or excited squeals.


               
Tuffy was always the perfect gentleman, eager to please and happy to be brought in for his lessons. Various efforts were made to retire him, none successful, as he pined for the children and the work that gave his life meaning. Jeanette Buckingham purchased Tuffy from Whitemud in 2002 so he could live out his days in his beautiful river valley, with the steady company of children and old friends, working three or four Little Bits lessons a week. His vet, Sean Archibald, took loving care of him right to the end and felt that the gentle exercise of the Little Bits lessons was as therapeutic for him as for his young riders. 

Tuffy worked almost to the time of his passing in June 2007 at the age of 43. He is buried on a hill at his vet's clinic, with Alberta roses on three sides and a clear view northeast to his old home. He continues to help his Little Bits riders through the “Tuffy Fund”, established as a way to help families who can't afford the program fees. We know Tuffy would approve.