Springfield, OH - Eager to get in the competition groove, para riders showed up at the Buckeye Series Leonard Truck and Trailer Derby Show to contest Grades 3 and 4. Newcomer Grade 3 rider Mindy Davis from KY, topped both days aboard her own Outlaw Whiz. On Friday, Davis tied Grade 4 rider Louis Zamboli from NY, riding his own Magnum Moonstone for the day’s high score of 69 to share the NRHA Para high point. Grade 3 rider Holly Jacobson, from MA, on her palomino, Shiney Juice, was close behind with a score of 68.5.
On Sunday, Davis boosted her score to 70.5 to claim another NRHA Para high point and Grade 3 USA Reining Para Reining Champion. A veteran of the western circuit before a stroke and then complications from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever sidelined her from riding for the last three years, Mindy credits the vision and spirit behind para Reining for motivating her to get out and go to the NRHA shows again.
“My balance is very shaky, and my muscle spasms were so bad I never dreamed I would ever compete in reining again. I can’t go terribly fast and I lack the stamina to do a full pattern.” She credits her trainer, Andrew Fox, along with her steady stead ‘Ozzie’ for convincing her to go for it. “Para Reining has given me my joy back!”
Louis Zamboli echoed that sentiment saying after a chainsaw accident and multiple surgeries, he couldn’t imagine not riding again. Even when doctors told him initially he wouldn’t be able to ride, his passion for horses gave him hope to pull through grueling rehab and physical therapy.“ Do what you love, enjoy it or else, what’s the point?” No regrets is Louis’ style. He rides with Bill Bowen at Gata Rein Ranch in Middletown, NY.
Grade 4 rider Fred Win, the 2017 USA Reining Para Reining National Champion, traveled from NJ to catch ride Hang Ten Barretta owned by Angela Proffit. “It’s always a honor when a generous owner lets me borrow their nice horse and it’s truly a privilege to be able to show here,” he said.
A busy lawyer, Win squeezes in time to show when he can and is always up for the challenge to ride a new mount. Win grew up as a trick rider in his native Myanmar despite having only one full length leg due to his mother being prescribed thalidomide.
For Holly Jacobson, it was another outing to get to know her new partner. “This is only our third time in the show pen, and he is such a cool horse to learn from. I’m grateful to Shawn Flarida and Tom Hoyt for pairing us up and to the Buckeye Series for inviting us.”
For many lifelong riders, it can be a deeply trying process after illness or accidents to rebuild and rebrand yourself as a para rider. Or for high achievers like Fred Win, it’s their passion for horses and drive to compete and improve their skills on horseback. Para sports open a competitive parallel track but it’s the horses that offer a unique opportunity for equality and partnership in addition to the mental and physical therapeutic benefits.
Chair of USA Reining Para Reining, Jennifer Hoyt is enthusiastic about the direction and support as this discipline evolves with USEF partnering this year for the second USA Reining Para Reining National Championships at the 2018 AQHA Congress Worlds Show in October.
Para reiners only need one score from one show prior to qualify for the championships.
USA Reining Para Reining levels, called Grades, run 1-4 for permanent physical disabilities, and Grade 5 for cognitive impairments.
For more information on how to participate, find a trainer or get involved, please visit: USAReining.com or contact Jennifer Hoyt: Hoyttrain1@gmail.com