Para Reining at the Kentucky Reining Cup

More para-equestrians take a spin on a reiner and find they like the sport during competition at the Kentucky Reining Cup.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Lise Yervasi competes April 26 in para-reining at the 2014 Kentucky Reining Cup. (Larri Jo Starkey photo) For more photos from the event, scroll through the slideshow below.

Para-reining got a second outing April 26 at the Kentucky Reining Cup in Lexington.

Five para-dressage riders climbed aboard reiners to try the new discipline after it got its start at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show.

“Reining is a happy sport, and it’s fun and the people are great,” said Dale Dedrick, who competed in the 2012 London Paralympics. “I haven’t cantered in a year and a half since an accident (where I cracked my sacrum). (On IRA Top Gunner), I felt safe enough that the first day I got on him, I was brave enough to try a canter. And then each day since then, I’ve been like, yeah, cantering!”

With happy smiles and a hearty competitive spirit, the five riders rode loaned horses in patterns chosen based on their riding abilities in Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“I really enjoyed the reining,” said Lise Yervasi, who won the competition with a solid 72. “I thought it suited my disabilities quite well. The trots in dressage are very hard for me. And (loping) is not so hard, so I really enjoyed it.”

For 2014, AQHA has new para-reining rules adopted in collaboration with USA Reining, the United States Para-Equestrian Association and the National Reining Horse Association. Those rules will be revised after this test year with the goal of making para-reining a nationally recognized sport by 2015.

“This has really taken off,” said Hope Hand, USPEA president. “Reining is a happy sport, and it’s fun and the people are great. We’re really looking forward to growing it in numbers. I just want to thank Brad Ettleman (of USA Reining) and (reining trainer) Lisa Coulter who have overseen this whole competition and given us the opportunity to show another para-equestrian sport.”

American Quarter Horses are ideal for the sport because of their level minds, said competitor Holly Jacobson, who rode Zins Smart Wrangler, donated by Tamra Kyle of Whitesboro, Texas.

“He was a little green, but (reining horses) are so mentally stable and he was really trying hard to listen to me,” Holly said. “What I really enjoyed was the owner, Tamra Kyle, she had an open mind about how (I was) going to (manage) the reins and what’s going to work best.”

Lisa, who helped find the horses loaned for the event, said when choosing horses, she looked for aged horses with experience in the show pen.

“What was remarkable was how these horses adapted,” Lisa said. “They just adapted to each rider. There’s a special thing about this that we kept uncovering. These horses suit these riders and a lot of riders with disabilities because they’re shorter and easier to get on. They’re comfortable. They don’t have the big movement. I think it’s going to be a nice match. Every single person said it was fun.”

Lise, who uses a powered wheelchair, said her horse had no problem with the chair.

“You can never tell ahead of time how a horse will respond,” she said. “The horses we were matched with were really good at figuring us out and thinking. It was really special.”

She’s a convert to reining, she said, adding that she has purchased two Quarter Horse prospects for the future and is looking for a competitive mount now.

Dale, who rode her entire pattern with a huge grin, said she will stick with dressage for now, but she can see turning to reining in the future.

“It’s easier physically than dressage,” she said. “And the people are fun, too. They’re having way more fun than we ever had at a dressage show. I can see myself in the future moving into reining as a competition sport instead of para-dressage, which is going to be time limited as my disability progresses.”

1. Lise Yervasi of Baker City, Oregon,  riding Dolano Glory Rey CT
Dolano Glory Rey CT was provided by Lexi Stovall of Kentucky.

2. Dale Dedrick of Ann Arbor, Michigan, riding IRA Top Gunner

IRA Top Gunner is a 2000 gray stallion by Playgun and out of Little Peppys Vet by Peppy San Badger. He was bred by Bee Jay Jordan of Lees Summit, Missouri, and is owned by Dan James of Nicholasville, Kentucky.

3. Holly Jacobson of Ipswich, Massachusetts, riding Zins Smart Wrangler
Zins Smart Wrangler is a 2009 bay gelding by Starlights Wrangler and out of Smart Rowdy Lady by Smart Chic Olena. He was bred by Patricia Moore of Sherman, Texas, and is owned by Tamra Kyle of Whitesboro, Texas.

4. Frederick Win on Koolwhiz N Wranglers*
Koolwhiz N Wranglers is a 2008 gray mare by Conquistador Whiz and out of Wranglers Lea by Wranglers Doctor. She was bred by Edwin Cridge of Tioga, Texas, and is owned by Rodion Cantacuzene of Midland, Texas.

5. Briana Bartlett on Western Whiz
Western Whiz is a 2003 bay gelding by West Coast Whiz and out of Cameos Brite Star by Black Star Leo. He was bred by Roberta Witt of Williston, Ohio, and is owned by Robert Thompson of Pilot Point, Texas.

*Freddie competed in para-reining at the 2013 World Show.