By the time the dust settled at the 2nd Annual Gold Stirrup Horse Show March 14, about 60 special horseback riders went home tired, happy and proud, after proving that just because you might have a disability, that doesn’t mean you’re handicapped in life.
The horse show for equestrians with cognitive or physical disabilities was sponsored for the second year in a row by Carino’s Italian restaurants/The Carino’s Foundation, and was held in conjunction with the annual Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo here in Austin, Texas.
In 2009, there were about 32 exhibitors from three Central Texas riding groups, but this year, that number nearly doubled with participants from Austin, Manor, Leander, Georgetown, Manchaca, San Marcos and Baytown.
Mid-way through the day, the riding clubs assembled in the arena and one of the teen-aged participants sang the National Anthem ---- from her wheelchair. The Gold Club top group award went to Marbridge Equestrian Team of Manchaca, a special-needs living and learning facility for adults with cognitive challenges. Marbridge is also one of the long-time beneficiaries of The Carino’s Foundation.
The horses used in the events are usually involved in daily or weekly riding activities, and many are privately owned, or ‘loaners,’ from owners involved with the special riding programs. The horses themselves vary widely in breed, style and age.
In fact, one horse used by Marbridge was one of ‘mine’ -- a Spanish mustang . After attending the Miss Rodeo Austin coronation (also sponsored by Carino’s), I stopped by to watch the afternoon action at the horse show, and got to see “Spirit” do his thing. Apparently, he did well, because he really took care of his riders and even won a blue ribbon or two.
Those of us watching the action from the sidelines saw a few special moments. For instance, one 10-year-old girl blew a kiss from horseback to her parents in the stands, as she rode past them. Another rider tumbled to the dirt after her horse shied away from something. Brushing off her show-ring attire, she said she was OK --- but her horse ‘was just a little uptight.’ How’s that for resilience?
It was nice to see several Carino’s employees with family members and friends volunteering throughout the day; one of our home-office employees was also co-chairman of the show.
This event is just one of many worthwhile activities and sponsorships made possible by donations raised at our Carino’s Charity Golf Tournament, sponsored annually by The Carino’s Foundation. This year, golfers will tee-off at an Austin-area location on Oct. 13th. More details to come!
Creed Ford III