Regional News

R1 June 2024



Sara MacKenzie  — Region 1 Director

Rachel visitin Tula in the early stages of recovery

Many of us love working equitation for strengthening the relationship we have with our horses. But this month, let’s consider how Working Equitation builds social communities. Rachel Stout, Region 1 Idaho member, shares her story about how her working equitation community helped her through hardship and recovery. 

From Rachel: 

Horses come with tremendous highs and lows. Last summer, I was on cloud nine. A small group of girlfriends had accomplished a dream of hosting Team Idaho Working Equitation Camp and Cup. We were thrilled. Then, on August 7th, 2023, a group of us met to explore a new trail in the Boise Foothills. While tacking up, a friend’s horse was standing nearby. In the blink of an eye, that horse kicked out at Tula. As I was in between, the kick hit my right knee and femur. The pain was blinding, and I knew immediately something was terribly wrong. I was transported to an ER and underwent emergency surgery. 

My leg was shattered and was put together with 7 screws and a 12-inch plate. I was told the prognosis was grim. I was determined to not only recover but to stay active with my horse and working equitation community. During the 12 weeks of non-weight bearing activity, I became adept at using a wheelchair. I volunteered at the 2023 USAWE Western Zone Championships in September and visited Tula regularly. My WE horse friends gave me lots of car rides and lots of hope!

Rachel and Tula back competing Memorial Day weekend at WE in Wine Country

By December, I still couldn’t walk. My leg wasn’t healing. The hardware was removed. I spent six weeks in a rehab hospital with an unstable leg preparing for a total knee replacement to replace the shattered bones. When they were finally able to do the surgery, I was walking six hours later and back in the saddle by day 30. Three months later I competed in the “WE in Wine Country” show and cattle clinic. 

What is the silver lining of this experience? I realized how important my tribe is to me in sharing the highs and keeping me focused and supported during the lows. The Working Equitation community’s support and my passion for WE kept me going and helped me find my way back into the saddle. The support and encouragement of my WE friends, and the love of my mare kept me focused and kept me dreaming of better days when I was struggling. 

I want to give a special shout out to Kim Shinn, Glenda Nelson, Kris Ford and Jill Mahdessian. I had no idea when we attended the 2022 Cross Nations Cup in Montana as WE newbies, how critical these women would become in my life. Working Equitation cemented our friendships. After the CNC, we became the founding members of our USAWE Affiliate Organization, Team Idaho: Treasure Valley Working Equitation. Team Idaho gave me inspiration and kept me active in my recovery. This community gave me strength to keep going and gave me reason to recover. I am forever grateful for working equitation and the passion it brings to my life.

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