I have been volunteering at a horse therapy ranch for around nine months, but I just now went to my first horse show. I attended the Chisholm Challenge Horse Show in Ft. Worth. It is held every year in January the week before the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. It is a horse show for equestrians with disabilities and has three days of competition. I heard it referenced as the unofficial start of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
Seeing all of the different therapy centers represented was interesting. I didn’t know that there were so many of them — 13 in the area! I still have so much to learn, so as I was watching I often didn’t know what I was seeing. However, I know that it is a big deal for these riders and their families. It makes things worthwhile for the volunteers to see everything come together. I wasn’t there for the whole thing, but I was there long enough to see that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes and there is a lot of waiting around.
During my time there, I was grooming horses and preparing and carrying props. I did sit and watch some of the competition, but mostly stayed with the horses and other volunteers. I saw multiple stories on the news about the competition; they highlighted various riders with autism and other disabilities. It is inspiring to see people have the connections with the horses that they do, and to see them able to overcome difficulties.
When I watched the news stories, I felt a sense of pride to have played a small role in the show. It was good to see how everything comes together outside of the classes. Now I have a better idea of what the students are training for week after week. It will probably give me a different outlook when I go back to the ranch next time.