U.S. Air Force veteran Derrick Perkins and Gallo del Poco Tivio, owned by Luke and Caleb Kelley competing in the Para-Reining competition at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show | Photo Copyright Lindsay Y. McCall
November 18, 2013--The 2013 American Quarter Horse (AQHA) World Championship Show featured 3,401 entries, a total purse more than $2.4 million, riders from 49 states and 7 countries, and the best Reiners in the business. From November 8-23, equestrians competed in halter, english, and western disciplines. For the first time in history, on November 15, the Para-Equestrian discipline Para-Reining was demonstrated in the Performance Arena at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City. USA Reining and the United States Para-Equestrian Association, in cooperation with the AQHA and National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) made the unprecedented Para-Reining demonstration possible. Debuting the discipline were three Para-Equestrians that have made their mark in the Para-Dressage world. Those athletes included two-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart, U.S. Air Force veteran Derrick Perkins, and Para-Dressage rider Frederick Win. Alongside these equestrians was experienced AQHA rider Reyna Nicole Taylor. All four riders were judged by FEI 4* Reining judge Joe Carter from Canada. The Para-Reining demonstration was a chance for spectators, organizers, and current and potential athletes to experience Para-Reining on an international platform. This event was the launch pad for the 2014 development year and 2015 Cailis canadian farmacy and beyond international Para-Reining competition.
Rebecca Hart, Derrick Perkins, and Frederick Win were invited into the Reining discipline never experiencing the sport in their life. World-class trainers and athletes donated their time and their high-performance Reining horses over two days to educate, coach, and develop the three dressage riders into competitive reining horses. As the Quarter Horse breed is known for, or as trainer Josh Visser put it, "The Labrador Retriever of the horse world," these top equines showcased their athletic skill, intelligence, and ability to adapt.
In Grade Ia, U.S. Air Force veteran Derrick Perkins and Gallo del Poco Tivio, owned by Luke and Caleb Kelley, tried their hand at the walk pattern. The crowd went wild on Perkins' execution of the back at the end of the pattern. "What an awesome opportunity," said Perkins. "Being in the Performance Arena, riding my pattern after my name announced, and hearing the audience really get into my ride was great."
Fellow Para-Dressage rider, Rebecca Hart has excelled in the Dressage world both in able-bodied and as a Para-Dressage athlete. The moment she sat on 4 year-old Zins Smart Wrangler, donated by Pete and Tamara Kyle and owned by Pat Moore, she was ready. Within 15 minutes 2010 FEI #1 Ranked Reiner, Hart's coach for the event, Lisa Coulter of Canada, was?impressed with Hart's natural Reining ability.
Hart appreciated working with a talented individual like Coulter and the feeling was returned on demonstration day. Coulter noted, "I loved working with Rebecca. She made me feel inspired. I felt the importance of this event was revealed when Rebecca's face lit up when she did her spins. I was thinking, 'Now that's what it's all about.' It's that feeling you can't replace. There is a certain thrill to Reining which includes power and yet control."
On demonstration day Hart took the reins and dominated the Level 3 Reining pattern . Hart's highlights within the pattern were her variations of speed on her right lead circles, her roll backs, and her spins both right and left.
Hart commented, "I had a blast during the demonstration. I loved how the audience really got into my performance and they were very supportive. In fact, the whole Reining community has been supportive, which is a wonderful feeling. I enjoyed riding Pete Kyle's 4 year-old; he was lovely. He never even thought about my legs on him and was a fantastic athlete. There was a lot to think about coming from Dressage. Each discipline is similar in some aspects but fundamentally different in others."
She continued, "I really want to thank Pete and Tamara Kyle and Pat Moore for Zins Smart Wrangler. They had no idea who I was and brought this wonderful four year-old that they have been training. Without them, their team, Lisa Coulter and everyone involved with Pete, this would not have gone as well. Finally, I want to thank everyone at the 2013 AQHA World Championships including the entire staff at USA Reining. This show is well organized, Brad Ettleman is amazing, and I really want to thank USA Reining, AQHA and NRHA for including us. If this opportunity arises again in the future it is definitely something I would be game to do again. What a great trip to Oklahoma City."
Para-Dressage rider Frederick Win also enjoyed being in Oklahoma and he could not wait to try reining aboard This Rose Will Shine, owned by Bill and Wendy Rhoads. Win was born missing a knee and thigh on his right leg. His lower leg and foot are attached at the hip but the hip bones are only joined to the pelvis by the muscle.
Over two days Josh Visser worked with Win to get him comfortable with the Level 4 Reining pattern. "This was my first time on a Reining horse," smiled Win. "Josh [Visser] really understood me as a Para-Equestrian. "When we got in the ring I was surprised how well this horse was trained. He knew exactly what to do. I tried to maneuver all of the required movements within the pattern and felt my slide and roll back were really good. When I finished I was ready to do it again."
Win added, "It was wonderful to see how many people supported us and it was fun to be right in the middle of everything. I wanted to thank Bill and Wendy Rhoads for letting me borrow this amazing horse. They were kind enough to let me use their horse with full confidence and trust in us as riders. I really want to thank the trainer Josh and his wife. Without each person we couldn't have done this for the USA Reining community."
The final rider of the afternoon was Reyna Nicole Taylor. As an experienced rider within the AQHA, Reyna was delighted to help bring forward the sport of Para-Reining. Taylor rode Gallo del Poco Tivio during the demonstration, completing the Level 4 Para-Reining pattern.
From National Para-Reiners to International competitors, this new program has already seen interest from countries outside of the U.S.
Canadian Reiner Lisa Coulter concluded, "I feel that all Para-Equestrians need to work with these Reining horses because it is the perfect mix. The horses are so precise, broke, and talented that they are just going to feel that level of thrill. I am really keen on getting Equine Canada within the Para-Reining program. I envision we could have even more international Para-Reining events in Canada than CRI's."
With the proven success of the 2013 Para-Reining debut USA Reining is looking forward to working with the AQHA and NRHA to grow this Para-Equestrian discipline into an international sport.
For the 2014 competition year, USA Reining will use the newly adapted Para-Reining rules. The new rules are a collaboration of AQHA Equestrians with Disabilities, NRHA and USA Reining. The adapted rules will be specialized, revised, and collated with the FEI Para-Equestrian rules for the following 2015 competition year. Members are encouraged to provide feedback for integration of the 2015 rules.
For more information about USA Reining, please visit www.USA-Reining.com. If you are interested in the Para-Reining program or would like to provide member feedback please contact Brad Ettleman at Brad@HPowerInc.com.