Canadian Paralympic gold and silver medalist Lauren Barwick traded her dressage saddle in for a western one the weekend of Feb 21st and 22nd and joined WPR at the Florida Reining Classic.
Training and competing in Para dressage has taken priority while preparing for World Games for Lauren, but the Florida Reining Classic provided her with the perfect opportunity to take reining for a 'spin.' Lauren and Western Whiz scored a 71 in Sunday's competition and was reserve champion in the class, on the heels of champion Briana Bartlett and Chrome Tejon, an experienced reining partnership.
"It was a bit of an adrenalin rush as my second ride was me in the arena competing... " said Lauren, "I didn't know wether to smile, salute or wave to the judge when I came in! I remember riding around saying in my head 'Im doing it... I think Im doing it' after the last slide all I could do was giggle, 'Yup i think i just did it.' The other great thing was there were people hooting and hollering on the side lines that I had no clue who they were but what fun that is to have people supporting you and showing it while your out there doing your best!"
Lauren remarked, "I really think reining will be a great addition to the Para athlete sports, the horses movements and smooth gates of the quarter horse are much more forgiving on a body with a physical disability."
Lisa Coulter, the founder and driving force behind World Para Reining, said, " Everyone at WPR and the Florida Reining Classic was blown away by Lauren. It was totally forgotten that she had mounted that horse from a wheelchair. Lauren loped a full pattern, spun four fast spins, ran and slid with big roll backs and she had never been in the Reining pen - it was amazing! Lauren's courage is tremendous. Her ability as a natural rider is unattainable. Some people are born with it. Its impossible for most able bodied riders to obtain Lauren's skill and connection with a horse. This proved to me the place Para Reining has in competition, and none of us will forget Lauren mastering this. If Lauren continues in Reining I see more gold in her future!!"
Congratulations Lauren! We hope to see you in the pen again soon!