FORT WORTH, TEXAS—At the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo’s Chisholm Challenge, held Jan. 8–9 in Fort Worth, Texas, Paint Horse BR Miss Macho topped a field of 98 horses to earn the prestigious Carrot Award, which is presented to one horse that distinguishes itself through its actions. The Chisholm Challenge is a horse show for special needs riders from therapeutic riding centers across North Texas. This year, it attracted about 100 riders from seven centers and included 65 English, Western, halter and driving classes.
The showring, however, is the last place owner Linda Tucker of Stephens, Ark., expected her 13-year-old Paint, BR Miss Macho, also called “Honey,” to be. This is because Tucker retired the palomino overo mare, by Barlink Macho Man and out of RHR Breathless, from breed competition in 2003 when she realized that the horse wasn’t happy campaigning for high-point awards.
After her show days ended, Honey was unemployed until Tucker discovered therapeutic riding from a feature story in the Paint Horse Journal, the American Paint Horse Association’s (APHA) flagship publication. When she read the article, the owner realized that Honey’s gentle nature and love for children made her a perfect candidate. Upon further research and interviewing people at local facilities, Tucker loaned the mare to a center called Riding Unlimited, Inc., located in Ponder, Texas. It was there that Honey proved a great fit.
"I am a college professor and I often get frustrated by students' lack-luster performances in the classroom,” said Tucker. “Honey's unhappiness on the show circuit and her subsequent success as a therapy horse remind me that there is a place for everyone to shine. Not all of us are lucky enough to find that place easily. Sometimes, as was the case with Honey, we have to look a little harder."
Although Tucker thought Honey was through showing, Riding Unlimited decided to enter the mare in the Chisholm Challenge and invited the owner to be her handler at the show. Tucker said she felt honored to be asked and was delighted to take part in the event.
Honey excelled at the show, and in addition to the Carrot Award, she carried her four exhibitors to four first places and Gist Silversmiths trophy belt buckles.
Show judge Pat Burton, who is also an APHA-approved judge, said that Honey’s showring success was not what set her apart when he and the other two judges picked the 2008 Carrot Award winner—it was her
mental attitude that made her special.
“It really takes a horse that has the right personality and that can handle an emergency without coming apart,” said Burton. “Honey was really outstanding in that respect.
“For example, in one of the equitation classes I judged there was a disturbance. Someone dropped something in the stands and it clattered loudly right above where Honey was at on the rail. She looked up, and then never missed a beat. She just kept right on going. The rider who she had on her at the time could have easily been dismounted had she jumped off the rail. Those kind of horses don’t come along very often.”
Chisholm Challenge co-founder and chairperson Cheril Becker agrees that it takes a special horse to help disabled riders show at an event like the Chisholm Challenge. But she added that these equestrians are worth it, and echoed Tucker’s sentiments about finding your place in life.
“Many of these riders are not able to compete in other sports, but this is their thing, and it’s not just their thing, they’re good at it,” said Becker. “Not only are they good at it, some of them walk away with buckles and it’s their opportunity to shine.“
With her talented group of riders, Honey has found her spot to shine and she is helping them to do the same. Eventually, when the mare has finished her work at Riding Unlimited, Tucker said that Honey will retire back at home. According to the proud owner, the Paint mare has earned it.
More About the Chisholm Trail Challenge
Celebrating its fifth year, the Chisholm Challenge is one of the largest events of its kind. It is approved by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) and all participating centers are also affiliates of the organization.
The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding enable many riders with physical and mental challenges to strengthen their bodies and empower their spirits. Horse shows like the Chisholm Challenge promote further development and provide the exhibitors the opportunity to show off their talent.
To learn more about the Chisholm Challenge, visit the Fort Worth Stock Show’s Website at http://www.fwssr.com
. To learn more about therapeutic riding or to find an event or center near you, visit http://www.narha.org
More about Paint Horses
Paint Horses—like Honey—have been a recognized breed since 1962, when the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) was formed. APHA has registered more than 900,000 horses in 49 nations and territories since it was founded 46 years ago, and now serves nearly 100,000 members around the world. APHA is a proud sponsor of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. To learn more about APHA, visit apha.com or call (817) 834-2742.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/paint-horse-worths-chisolm-challenge-01-08.html">American Paint Horse Shines Brightly in Spotlight of Fort Worth’s Chisolm Challenge</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com