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2003/03/07

Special Dixie Show In 5th Year by Tom Burriss The 5th Annual Special Needs Horse Show took place February 4 in the Equine Center in Jackson, Miss. as a part of the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo. Lana Mapes started and runs this show for five years now. This is the only show in the Southeast U.S. for all disciplines and all abilities. Mapes is the head of Aztec Farms, in Terry, Miss. She has a lot of the riders who are in the S and I divisions, meaning that they are considerably more involved as riders, many of them ride independently. "We are a fully equiped riding facility for handicapped and special riders. We use the American Indian Horse to promote education, healing and fun for disabled children and adults." Allen Kimball, an Aztec Farms student and show competitor, has been riding six years now and two years in competition. He rides once per week on Aztec Beauty, an Indian Pony, which he rode in the trail classes. For the costume class he dressed as a jockey and rode on an Arab/Thoroughbred cross. Allen uses an Aussie saddle, which essentially is a mix between English and Western saddles. It has the slim design of an English Saddle, yet all the features of a Western saddle, a horn and high back. This is particularly helpful to Allen, because he has Spina Bifida, in which he must wear ankleand foot orthodics - AFO's. The riding has helped strengthen Allen's legs enough that he can ride bareback now, which is even more beneficial. "The riding bareback helps relax him . It has the same effect as if you or I were to get into a hot tub," say his mother Mary Jane. Allen used to use a walker exclusively. After he started riding he was able to get around with a cane, and now is independently walking. The riding has also greatly improved his speech. Catherine Terrell, from Vicksburg, Miss. has been riding since March of 2002, and the riding has shown marked improvement in her condition. Catherine competes in the "T" or team divisions. Occupational Therapist Sharon Kay Banks helps her with her riding and leads her horse GIGI. She goes out to Rainbow Farms to assist with her instruction. 'Catherine used to have breathing treatments everyday, and sometimes more than once a day. Since she has started riding, they have only had two treatments," says Elizabeth Tate. "There is everyday improvement," At first she couldn't even wear her helmet. Now she holds her head up with a helmet on and has begun to grab a hold of reigns.

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