When Debi Paulin runs her first barrel race on her new t-bred she’ll be in the remarkable position of already having won her most important race.
Diagnosed two years ago with Multiple Sclerosis after a sudden onset of paralysis, Paulin, 40, has fought much bigger battles outside the competition arena than she could ever encounter within. And she feels blessed to take her perfect-for-her ex-racehorse Sweet Duper to the Run for the Angels Benefit 5D Barrel Race in the town of Santo.
“To be able to start running and competing again, especially on my own horse, means so much to me on so many levels,” she says. “I have overcome so much adversity in my life. Finally, somehow, I’ve found the strength and courage to follow my dreams.”
Barn name: Ty
Sire: Special Fly By
Dam: Super Duper Sweet
Foal date: 2010And she found her dream horse last January.
About a year after her diagnosis, Paulin spotted Sweet Duper at a friend’s barn and felt an instant thrill of excitement. “I don’t know what it was, exactly, but I called his owner the next day and offered to buy him. I knew he was going to be for sale, and I told her I’d take him,” she says.
After undergoing intensive physical therapy and medical treatments to combat a battery of ailments, from mild paralysis to visual disturbances, it was a joy to walk with her new gelding into the round pen and connect with the strong, sturdy animal.
She spent 45 days with him before finally coaxing her impaired legs over Sweet Duper’s back. And the moment she settled into the saddle, he looked after her like a mare would her foal. “He was bred for the track, but made for me!” Paulin says. “He takes such good care of me. On my bad days when my legs are hurting, he’ll stand next to the fence and just wait for me to climb on.”
There were days early on in her illness when Paulin wondered if she’d ever be able to continue her lifelong passion for riding. But stoicism and good old-fashioned grit prevailed. “I have things to do,” she says. “I’m not in a wheelchair … instead of giving into it, I’m working my muscles and will keep on doing what I do.”
As she readies for their first competition together, Paulin notes, “He does more than just barrels. He has given me hope.” ♥
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12 responses to “A rider with MS set to run barrels on her T’bred”
Good Luck Debi. God Bless you for saving Sweet Duper and I’m glad he’s so good for you. May you have many happy rides together and “WIN”.
I am also a rider with MS. Sadly I can’t event or jump anymore, but I still ride as much as possible and love to trail ride. It’s crazy that I feel my best after a 7 hour ride -although immediately after the ride it takes a few minutes to get my “land legs” back. I always say, their legs work better than mine!! Keep riding my fellow MS warriors!!
As a person living with MS for 15 years now, and who is also an Equine Specialist certified in Hippotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning and Equine Assisted Therapy…I applaud you! My OTTB Trooper (JC Prince Moon Sun) has been my rock, my best friend, and the facilitator of new beginnings for hundreds.
MS is a disease that Hippotherapy and Therapuetic Riding can be so helpful for, and I love when I see riders with MS refusing to give up their dreams when it’s possible to keep riding. I was told I needed to give it up, thank goodness I didn’t listen! A second opinion told me it was bunk, and it snowballed into a program that has served hundreds…and yes…many with MS.
Good Luck to you! And I hope you continue to find your peace and inspiration with your beautiful OTTB!
Deb….you and your horse are already WINNERS! Enjoy your run!
I was with Debi when she was Diagnosed with MS. She has more heart and determination than anybody I have ever been around. I have had her come over when she didn’t feel like and climb on horses and help me excersize them. She would push through her pain but deep down I knew she would pay for it later. She never complained and I personally think keeping her active on the days she was down kept her more motivated to push through!! Debi I am so proud of you my friend! Your are an inspiration to so many!! Keep up the awesome work. You are already a winner in my eyes!! 🙂
I sure do wish a trainer or two who don’t want their horses or who are running them to death would read this story and realize that those horses could be helping other people like this. Where there’s a will there’s a way!
I too have MS. Have had horses my whole life. And to give them up and move to town. I will not! I can still ride it helps me with, balance, and other phy things,not to mention mentality, I could go on but the horse women understand! Going to physical therapy to keep everything moving,use walker now but fighting to walk again . Your story gave me hope ! MS will not stop me.
I wonder if you could get into a horse-therapy program and sit at the walk with people leading the horse. I bet it would help, especially to take a deep breath of the comforting barn smells, and the horse. Please take care of yourself. Sue
There are horse therapy programs and riding is a proven therapy for MS I can tell when I haven’t rode in a few days and feel awful. I’m spending as much time in the saddle as I can and I have an amazing team of horses.. I’m not just riding for me I’m riding for all of us with MS. Hang in there Cowgirl- I will be cheering you on daily Linda!!
My name is also Linda Johnson, I also.have MS AND also horse women ,my story is.so much like yours, if.you would like would like to have email conversation sounds like.we.have a lot in common. LINDA
What a GREAT story!! Good for Deb and Ty! Love it when the stars align ;o)
And I thought the pain of arthritis in my hips is bad!! Debi gives
me inspiration; even if my husband does have to pull my right
leg over the saddle!! Go, Debi!!!