By Lisa Wolters
I started ACTHA in September 2011. The first ride, my horse didn’t side pass or yield to leg pressure very well, as I’d not ridden him much at all after buying him in December 2010. I was embarrassed after that ride, because I knew we had potential and I knew how to get better. So, ACTHA gave me the motivation to begin riding again and to become a student of the horse. At the first trail ride, we had finished at the bottom of the placing. The next ride was two weeks away, and I trained in earnest. We received seventh out of 27 riders, which was very exciting to me. I was already hooked on ACTHA. My Percheron horse, Bucyrus, and I attended what rides we could around family obligations, since I am a wife and mother of an 11 and 13 year old. My family is very supportive and have ridden on CTCs occasionally. We live on a northwestern Kansas farm, which can get pretty lonely. ACTHA rides help fill that void for me since I love the camaraderie with other riders and meeting new friends. I also love visiting new places en route to a ride. We are located near Nebraska and Colorado, so we’ve competed in these states, along with Arkansas and Missouri.
The 2012-2013 ACTHA season was almost over for my horse and I before it started. We had progressively improved the prior season and I decided, after discussing it with my family, to aim for high point in the Kansas pleasure division. Memorial Day weekend, right before the season was to start, I tore my ACL and a bit of meniscus playing volleyball. As a friend helped me off the floor of the gym, she encouraged me to go do what I was really good at, riding, and go heal, instead of attempting more volleyball.
|Lisa’s Percheron, Bucyrus|
I took her advice to heart, and rode in my first ACTHA ride of the season two weeks following, wearing my mom’s knee brace. I found at the end of the ride I was tied for first and had to do a ride-off. My horse did what I asked, but my bad knee was weak and he ducked to the weak side, which cost us the win. I felt our performance was pretty good for someone with my injury. I had surgery to repair my ACL with a hamstring graft on July 3rd, 2012. Two days later, we took delivery of a 19 hh Belgian draft horse who empathized so much with my crippled plight, he injured himself the next day, requiring stitches and a cast. During the course of the surgery, my husband, who was assisting, herniated his back. He was so supportive of my goal, we were able to schedule his back surgery around my ACTHA ride schedule. Fortunately, throughout this year, my horse has been healthy and sound. I have learned that once I began to trust my horse, he trusted me and would do anything for me. I find it deplorable that people feel the need to drug their horses to compete, when all that is needed is the time and patience to earn their trust.
|From left to right: Lisa, husband Josh, son Ryan, mother
Jan and daughter Kaitlyn
Photo by Patti Baker
I have seen some beautiful scenery during our ACTHA rides, and I hope to share some of those experiences with my family. With my background showing horses as a teen, I’ve learned life is too short to spend that much money and be miserable. I enjoy a bit of competition, but the true winners are the ones who enjoy the journey of true horsemanship, not just cruising along top speed on the road to another win. Most rides are so enjoyable because all the folks involved are so friendly, I feel.
I was inspired by another rider in Nebraska who was legally blind and beat us for a win. What a lady! Her beautiful horse had been with her many years and was her eyes. What trust! Another lovely lady inspired me by her grace in the face of rude behavior. She just ignored the behavior and persevered. What an example! What I have learned that has been reinforced is that you can’t control the action of others, the weather, or how your horse responds to any of these directly, but you can control how you respond.
I wouldn’t change anything about this season, because I feel what has happened is what is meant to be and I am meant to use it all to learn from and use it to get better as a person and a rider. My favorite rides are the ones that are at least two-day as you get more fun for your travel dollars and get to relax more since you are there longer. At times, Bucyrus and I have brought friends and family along for the ride to CTCs, but most of the thousands of miles we’ve covered this year in the trailer, it has been just the two of us. The partnership my horse and I have is something I cherish so much there are no words to convey it, but I know some of you reading this will understand, because you feel that way too. It is a fellowship of the horse that most of us ACTHA riders really enjoy. I look forward to meeting more folks on the trail, and as a ride host eventually. With the obstacles we have had to overcome as a team, I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished this season. Every time I tack up for a ride, I look to improve upon the last ride. Most importantly, I give thanks for the health and ability to ride, and for my “little” pony with a huge heart.
Lisa Wolters and Bucyrus finish the 2012/13 Season ranking 8th in the Nation, 2nd in Kansas and 3rd in Arkansas. Congratulations to this amazing team for an awesome season!