Excitement is mounting for the Arizona Sun Circuit show sponsored by the Arizona American Quarter Horse Association, where the first ever World Para Reining (WPR) approved classes will be held on Jan. 30-31 at noon each day. The WPR is a new organization dedicated to fostering competitive reining events for disabled riders around the world.
These classes represent the first events in the WPR series, which will award a championship saddle, a world champion title, and top-10 awards at the end of 2015. One of the riders expected to compete is Lara Oles, who won the inaugural Para Reining Championship at the NRHA Futurity last December. Oles was injured in a skiing accident in 2006 that paralyzed her right arm, damaged her spinal cord and caused partial paralysis on her right leg. In the WPR classes, Oles will be riding Smart N Shiney, owned by Regina Kozlik and trained by Travis Wigen, of Ogden, Utah.
The WPR provides a format for para riders to enjoy the sport of reining, and for older successful reining horses to have a valuable second career in the show pen. The WPR will help bring the para community into mainstream reining by coordinating with the American Quarter Horse Association, the National Reining Horse Association and other approved organizations, giving para riders many showing options and opportunities worldwide.
Most importantly, the WPR will welcome all levels of disabled riders who want to get started in reining. The WPR will facilitate the spread of para reining by hosting reining clinics, developing a coaching program, coordinating the pairing of riders with suitable reining horses and connecting riders with people interested in sponsoring the sport.
Para reining competitors at the Sun Circuit Show will include the following riders:
Catherine was born with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy (CP). Her doctors called it “toe point syndrome,” as the muscle spasticity results in her toes being in a constant downward flexion. She has decreased control of her lower leg and foot, and the spasticity results in an almost fused ankle and pain. Over the years, Catherine has gone through multiple surgeries to combat the effects of the CP and also acute scoliosis. In the WPR classes, Catherine will ride Hollywood Acres, who was recently acquired by Lisa Coulter to share with para riders. Lisa previously owned Ace when they won an individual silver medal at the Kentucky Reining Cup in 2010.
Erin has a rare genetic disorder that worsened following a severe illness during her college years. She has little to no feeling in her legs below the knee, as well as reduced strength and coordination. Erin is pictured riding Berry Shiney, who is owned and generously lended by Dusty and Royal Worbets. Alberda and Berry Shiney won the inaugural Canadian para reining event in Chilliwack, British Columbia, at the West Coast Classic in July 2014. They will be competing together again at the Sun Circuit.
Brianna was in a car accident that caused her to become a L4 incomplete paraplegic. She is completely paralyzed from the knees down, requiring her to wear braces on both lower legs. She is also and weak from her knees to waist, especially down the back of her legs.
The WPR would like to thank all the sponsors for the Sun Circuit para classes, especially Stephanie Bjorkman, owner of Sami Fine Jewelry in Fountain Hills, Arizona, who donated the awards – two beautiful custom sterling silver Arizona Four Peaks amethyst pendants designed with Silver Spurs Equine.