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Exceptional Girl Meets An Exceptional Horse
Writing in The Norman (Oklahoma) Transcript, Karen Dorrell tells of a young paraplegic's desire to ride again and the remarkable animal who made it possible.
Some three and a half years ago, Julie Quirk, of Midwest City, Okla., was injured in a horseback riding accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down. She still had the desire to ride, and through the help of a friend was back in the saddle just two years after the accident.
She still dreamed of owning a horse and was inspired by an article she had read in a magazine about a paraplegic who discovered the smooth gait and sweet temper of the Paso Fino.
Quirk and a friend went to the ranch of Patty Robinson, a Paso Fino breeder, in Noble, Okl. "I was sitting on this big Palomino named Senor Triunfo, and Julie's friend said How about him?' I nearly fell off," Robinson said. But she led Triunfo to Quirk and it was love at first sight for both of them.
Robinson was afraid to sell her the big adult, a five-year-old gelding already trained for a regular rider, "but she kept coming out to see him, making us lift her up on him, riding him, insisting he was the one. I finally agreed," Robinson said.
Once Triunfo had been retrained to neck-rein and work off the bit, Robinson handed him over. Quirk was not completely satisfied because she still had to be lifted into the saddle.
She asked Robinson to train Triunfo to lie down without going onto his side so that she could mount him without help. Robinson wasn't sure how to go about that. She found someone who did.
Mickey Bohannon of Jennings, Oki., is a rodeo clown who has trained such diverse animals as a zebra and a buffalo.
After time with Bohannon, the Palomino will now follow Quirk's wheelchair until she finds a clear spot, lie down on command and allow her to mount. After their ride, he will lie down near her wheelchair so she can maneuver into it. Should she take a fall while riding, he will return and lie down near her so she can pull herself back into the saddle.
(Reprinted with permission from Horse Digest.)

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #1