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The Hoof Beats Photo Contest is quickly becoming my favorite part of the magazine each year.

Judging by the number of entries and votes that we got this year, I think you tend to agree.

We had 438 entries on the Hoof Beats Facebook page from May until November this year. We put the contest on Facebook so that entrants can share their photos and encourage their friends and family to vote and share the photos as well. It truly becomes a snowball effect of people sharing the most touching and engaging photos of the great sport of harness racing and our wonderful Standardbred horses.

The winning entry, which is on our cover, took advantage of that sharing mentality. Stephany Wade shot the photo of Christopher Mollica and his father, Roberto, driving Eight Of Hearts in an Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society Show last year at Touch and Go Stables in Campbellville, Ont. We watched her drum up votes for the photo almost daily for months, resulting in an impressive 1,182 votes, which was more than 300 more than the second-place photo.

Photo by Stephany Wade
This photo of Christopher Mollica and his father, Roberto, driving Standardbred Eight Of Hearts won the 2016 Hoof Beats Photo Contest.

Christopher, who just turned 27, suffers from cerebral palsy, and cannot sit up, feed himself, talk, or even hold a pencil. He can, however, hold the lines and drive and steer Eight Of Hearts in pleasure driving shows and cone classes, according to his mother, Susan. She said that her husband designed the special cart with a drop axle and safety features to accommodate his wheelchair, which was built by Creekside Carriages in Milbank, Ont.

Susan said that Christopher just loves Standardbreds—especially Eight Of Hearts, who is a 13-year-old mare by Cam’s Card Shark. He also loves competing with the mare, and won the “Heart of a Standardbred” Award last year from the OSAS. She said it is wonderful for her son to be able to drive the horse that he loves so much, and credits the OSAS and its events coordinator, Joanne Colville, for welcoming them to compete.

“I just hope that more people take up disabled driving so that these people can get the physical therapy that they need,” she said. “That’s why we did it with Christopher.

“I care for him 24 hours a day and don’t get a break, but when I see him in that cart with his dad, it just brings tears to my eyes.”

See the top vote-getters in this Flickr album online. We also included some of our favorites that may have been overlooked by the voting public.

Thank you to all of those who entered photos, voted and shared. We can’t wait to launch the next contest next spring, so get your best shots ready!

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