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Heart of a Hero, Life of a Legend: Chip Chocoholic Passes

It is with a heavy heart we regret to inform our readers of the loss of a legend; Chip Chocoholic. After many years as an equestrian with disabilities (EWD) horse, this special gelding was recently laid to rest due to complications associated with colic.  While most “legendary” horses are World Champions in the show arena, Chip made his lasting mark as the winningest horse in EWD history.

During his early show career, Chip had several well known riders including, Kristy Starnes, Maggie Murphy, Cathleen Clucas, Gloria Syfan, Barbara Graves, and Nancy Murfin-Moxley. Chip had multiple Top 10’s at the AQHA World Show and several superiors, but his greatest impact was in the EWD classes.

While showing on the AQHA circuit, Chip suffered an unfortunate stifle injury, but, with every cloud there is a silver lining. Chip’s injury made it hard for him to lope soundly, but his walk and jog gaits were still in tact. This meant that for Chip, his show career was far from over.

chip2Chip was donated to Horses of Hope, a non-profit, therapeutic riding center for people with special needs based out of Buffalo, Missouri and Baxter Springs, Kansas. Upon arriving at Horses of Hope about 10 years ago, it seemed as though Chip had found his calling. A perfect match for the program, Chip was as good-minded, and bomb-proof as they come, while still being fancy enough to perform like a show horse. Chip quickly became a celebrity at Horses of Hope, being known as the dependable, crowd favorite.

When Chip got back out on the horse show-scene to show in the Equestrians With Disabilities category created by AQHA, the volunteers began to notice that Chip’s stardom wasn’t limited to the people involved with the Horses for Hope program. Chip’s registered name would be heard over the loud speakers, or he’d be noticed as a familiar face, and people would come flocking to Chip’s stall at the show grounds. Past owners, competitors, judges, horse trainers and everything in between would find Chip, and begin to explain how he had touched their lives in a special way.

chip5Chip was exceptional at his job at Horses for Hope. He was able to help teach, comfort, and change the lives of many special needs children, and help them reach goals, and achieve things that may have otherwise been implausible.

While Chip had many important relationships with members of AQHA, and with many children apart of the Horses of Hope, perhaps his most significant was with a girl named Jessie Naaykens.

Jessie and Chip began their journey years ago when Chip was donated to Horses for Hope, and became an unstoppable team, literally. Jessie openly referred to Chip as her best friend, and the two showed in EWD at many, many shows together. The highlight of their career together was the 2009 NSBA World Championship Show, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jessie and Chip won every single EWD class that they competed in that year, making Chip the winningest horse in EWD history. The team also amassed over 100 points in the EWD classes.

chip chocoholicTo honor Chip’s incredible legacy he left behind, Horses for Hope has created a memorial fund in Chip’s honor called, “Heart of a Hero, Life of a Legend.” The purpose of the fund is to sponsor a person of special needs to be able to come and participate in the Horses of Hope program, and essentially keep Chip’s incredible legacy continuing for years to come.

Hopefully, through Chip’s fund, the work he began at Horses for Hope, can continue, and even though Chip is no longer alive today to do the work he started himself, we can all contribute to get the work done in loving memory of this incredible horse. To donate to the fund, please visit

Check out the videos below to find out more information about the program.

Click here for Horses of Hope, Video 1

Click here for Horses of Hope, Video 2


About the Author: Lindsey Slack is a 20 year-old college sophomore currently pursuing a degree in Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. When she’s not in class, Lindsey is also a member of South Carolina’s 2015 National Championship Equestrian team, where she competes for the Gamecocks in horsemanship. Aside from collegiate equestrian, Lindsey shows in the all-around as an amateur with her horse, Now Thats An Order, under the guidance and training of Powder Brook Farm. Lindsey has been riding and showing horses in AQHA since she was nine years-old, and hopes to continue her riding career far into the future.