The Best Therapy

Horse shows can be great therapy.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Debbie and Bryana Tannehill (Andrea Caudill photo)

Mother and daughter Debbie and Bryana Tannehill of Eaton, Colorado, are enjoying their first Zoetis AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships together.

Debbie is showing VVR Hopalong Cassidy, while Bryana is showing Shorty Obrien.

Shorty Obrien, a 2006 buckskin gelding, was originally Debbie’s versatility horse, but a few years ago Debbie got breast cancer. Her daughter took over the ride during her treatment, and kept him. Debbie acquired VVR Hopalong Cassidy, a striking 2012 red roan gelding, in 2016.

Shorty Obrien is by Short Oak and out of the Quincy Wildfire mare Quincys Last Gal. He was bred by Joe Cunningham of Stonewall, Louisiana.

VVR Hopalong Cassidy, “Rusty,” was bred by Vista Verde Guest Ranch of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and is by CTR Peptos Whiskey and out of the CT Reyn Mann mare Reyn On Sunday.

“I had surgery, and had to do chemotherapy,” Debbie says of her cancer diagnosis. “(The chemotherapy) is just hard on your body; they don’t want to tell you that. But I am healed, and I am blessed. It’s been three years. There is nothing better than being on a horse and forgetting about that.”

But Rusty, too, had to overcome challenges. He is recently back under saddle after taking about a year and a half off to recover from mental and physical wear.

“I’m really proud of him,” she says. “We’ve only been back (under saddle for) like a month. He’s a good boy.”

On Thursday, Bryana and her horse won the National Ranch and Stock Horse Alliance novice youth ranch riding, and were third in the Versatility Ranch Horse youth ranch riding. Debbie placed well in the Level 1 amateur select ranch riding.

Debbie, who works as a real estate broker, has been riding her whole life. Originally a native of California, she moved to Colorado when she married. Both of her daughters ride, and Bryana has taken an interest in showing.

“It’s beautiful in Colorado, and we have a great ranch horse community,” she says. “I’m a big supporter of the Versatility. I think it’s just so fun and healthy for everybody.”

It has been healing for mother, daughter and horses.

“Horses are my therapy,” Debbie says. “They are the greatest therapy.”

Watch for news and results from the Zoetis VRH World, AQHA Level 1 Championships, Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals and National Ranch and Stock Horse Alliance National Show at

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