Chisholm Challenge draws record entrants to pre-Stock Show event

FORT WORTH -- Ten years ago, those who share the Western legacy of Fort Worth and Texas began to spread word of a happy fact about the culture: Everybody is equal on horseback.

That's when the Chisholm Challenge was born.

The competition is sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association's Equestrians With Disabilities program and is conducted under the same rules as the other sponsored competitions.

"It's pretty exciting," said general manager Cheril Becker of the double-digit milestone. "Riders come from as far away as Texas Tech," in Lubbock.

The three-day show is held at the John Justin Arena at the Will Rogers Complex and is one of the special events preceding the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

The Chisholm Challenge began Monday and concludes today with driving, showmanship and trail class events.

Some competitors are independent entrants, but most come from the ranks of area therapy riding programs affiliated with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. This year, 10 area ranches and 176 competitors are competing.

Last year, the AQHA recognized Chisholm Challenge as the largest Equestrians With Disabilities horseback riding show in the world, Becker said.

The partnership with the Fort Worth Stock Show is an extra benefit for the Chisholm Challenge, Becker said.

"They really see the competitors as another horse show, and that's the way they want to be seen." Becker said.

The record number of competitors this year is reason to celebrate, Becker said.

Britney Gavitt, 11, of Cleburne competed in her third Chisholm Challenge on Tuesday.

She spoke during a break in competition, still wearing a No. 149 competitor's tag on the back of her red-sequined shirt.

Britney has been riding for four years at Wings of Hope Equitherapy in Cleburne.

"I'll keep riding, definitely," she vowed.

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657

Twitter: @startelegram