People with disabilities show off horsemanship skills during county fair

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Dyanna Perez is led out of the arena on top of Chiple Wednesday for an equestrian show for people with disabilities at the San Juan County Fair in Memorial Coliseum at McGee Park in Farmington

FARMINGTON — More than half a dozen people with disabilities showed off their horsemanship skills during the Special Horse show Wednesday during the San Juan County Fair.

The event was part of “The Mane Event” summer program through Rein Dance Association, a nonprofit focused on teaching horsemanship to people with disabilities.

“It’s not a competition,” said Cindy Iacovetto, the founder of Rein Dance Association. “It’s just an exhibition of what they’ve learned over the summer.”

The seven participants rode rescue horses Savvy and Chiple. They guided the horses through obstacles, such as poles and barrels, while accompanied by two “wranglers” who walked on either side of the horse to assist them.

Participant Randy Nickerson shows off his face painting Wednesday during an equestrian show for people with disabilities at the San Juan County Fair in Memorial Coliseum at McGee Park in Farmington

Randy Nickerson, 54, has participated in The Mane Event for 18 years. His sister, Judi Nickerson, said it is the highlight of his summer.

“It gives Randy something to look forward to,” she said.

She said the program helps build confidence for people with disabilities. Her brother has Down syndrome.

“This is their time to shine and be a star,” she said.

Nathanael Muller rides Savvy around barrels Wednesday during an equestrian show at the San Juan County Fair in Memorial Coliseum at McGee Park in Farmington.

Nathanael Mueller, 12, said he enjoys riding. He said Savvy is his favorite horse to ride because Savvy is tall.

Susan Mueller, Nathanael’s mother, said the horse riding is soothing and calming for Nathanael, who has autism.

“He loves coming every time,” she said.

Participants wait their turn to participate in a special horse show held in conjunction with the Mane Event program. This was an equestrian show for people with special needs that took place at the San Juan County Fair in Memorial Coliseum at McGee Park in Farmington.

Judi Nickerson served as the master of ceremonies during the event.

“Throughout the years, it just warms your heart to see on their faces that they know they’ve accomplished something,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.