Submitted by Merida The Bitless

Merida, an 11-year-old gypsy horse from Chehalis known as “Merida The Bitless” to her social fans, made the cut last week for the quarter-finals of America’s Favorite Pet Contest. The contest benefits PAWS – Progressive Animal Welfare Society. The nonprofit is based in Lynnwood, Washington and has a mission to help injured and orphaned domestic pets as well as wildlife get rehabilitated and return home. Merida The Bitless

“Everyone who has ever met Merida is still in her life in some way, even her breeder follows her on social media, she is just that special – she leaves hoofprints on everyone’s heart,” shares Kristina Lotz, Merida’s owner. “We are all so excited that she has gotten this far and can’t wait to see how the rest of the contest goes.”

Merida still has several rounds of competition to get through in order to be named America’s Favorite Pet, which includes a two-page article in InTouch Magazine and the honor of the title. In order to win that title, Merida will need to be first in her group by the time voting ends – at 7 p.m. PST on September 29. If she is first in her group then, she will go onto the semifinals that run through October 20. At which point, she will need to be first in her group again in order to advance to the finals that end on October 27.

“We just hope everyone else can recognize not only how special she is, but that our platform is one that really needs to be highlighted,” explains Kristina. That platform is riding bitless – meaning without a metal piece in the horse’s mouth – especially for competition. The pair has racked up quite the show record, with almost 90 firsts over the last three years in trail, English and western pleasure, jumping, agility and more. They have won multiple high points and was the International Registry of Bitless Equestrians Horse and Handler of the Year for 2019.

“Merida loves to get out and do things,” shares Kristina, “and we are fortunate that our breed allows bitless riding. Most do not. The governing organizations for most horse sports do not. We want to change that.”

Kristina also does a lot of clicker training with Merida and is an advocate for using humane training methods – whether for tricks or show. The prize money they will win will be used to help further their causes. “Merida loves to learn new stuff, so we are constantly coming up with fun things for her to do,” Kristina shares. “Her new trick in progress is painting!”

A spoiled princess according to Kristina, Merida gets spa days each week where her mane, tail and feather are taken care of. “Gypsies do require a bit of extra work to keep their feathered legs healthy,” Kristina explains. She also gives her massages often and chiropractic care when needed.

You can vote for Merida for free once a day. You can also buy extra votes to support PAWS. Just go to Merida’s America’s Favorite Pet dashboard, or scan the QR code below. Merida is running some fun giveaways to boost donations to PAWs, so head Merida The Bitless on Facebook or Instagram.

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