A very special competition made its debut April 26, at the Kentucky Reining Cup- Para-Reining. Five riders with disabilities-most of them from the world of para-dressage-contested the class. Lise Yervasi who traveled from oregon to meet the challenge, came out the victor, scoring 72.00 aboard Lexi Stoval's Dolano Glory Rey CT. In second was Dale Dedrick with a 70.5 aboard Dan James' Smart Little Elan, and Holly Jacobson with Tamra Kyle's Zins Smart Wrangler was third with 70.0. Para-Reining is a new class with in the sport of reining, but it is quickly catching on. "This was challenging because it is so new to us," said class organizer and FEI reining competitor Lisa Coulter. "We just weren't sure how the horses would respond to these riders-we had no framework to work from, but it was amazing how these horses responded and adapted. These horses suit a lot of riders because they're shorter and smaller-strided."
"I'm a grade 1b in [para-dressage]," said Dedrick. "So I only walk and trot. I have not cantered a horse in more than 18 months, and I was a little leery about the idea of a canter test, but [competition manager] Brad Ettleman said, 'Oh no, the Western lope is more comfortable, you'll like it.' And then [James] and his horse Top Gun convinced me to try it and it was great."
Yervasi is an experienced competitor in horse sports, but the new requirements made her a bit nervous. "The very long, slow walk in was really hard. It's hard to be patient and keep your nerves in check all the way to the center. " But Yervasi is now sold on her new discipline and hopes it expands to other venues.
"This horse was incredible. These horses are so nicely trained. I really enjoyed the reining and thought it suited my disability quite well. The trot is hard for me in [para-dressage], but the [loping] was not so hard."
"These horses are so mentally stable and are trying so hard to work with the riders," said Jacobson. "Plus the clothes are way more fun."
Held at the Kentucky Horse Park, in conjunction with Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the Kentucky Reining Cup is a dynamic and exciting event that presents Reining at the highest possible level, drawing top competitors and elite-level horses from around the globe.