The path to any victory can be a long one. In the sport of para reining that path can come with not just bumps on the road but some would say roadblocks. Each rider has a story of overcoming hardship to experience the joy of competing with their horse in a sport they love.
The long road to the 2016 WPR International Championships held in Oklahoma City was the path two Saskatchewan riders took this past November. Janice Boucher of Prince Albert and Courtney Braun of Beechy, came home with a Silver Medal for Canada as they paired up with Paralympic Gold medal dressage rider Lauren Barwick to put team Canada on the podium.
The WPR event with 6 countries attending was held Nov. 12 - 14 in the horse show capital of the world. Day one saw the Team Competition in the Jim Norrick Coliseum . Team USA took gold, Canada silver and Team Netherlands bronze. Janice Boucher guided her grey gelding to some beautiful circles and big stops to score a 211.5. Courtney Braun rode anchor for the team and needed a good score to put the team on the podium. She scored a 204 just enough to edge out the Netherlands for the silver .
The final day of competition saw the individual portion of the tournament get underway. There were 26 riders that took their turn in the performance arena to battle for a beautiful Continental saddle. Brianna Bartlett of Aubrey Texas, took home the top prize with Canada's Lauren Barwick placing second. Courtney Braun rode her horse to a 208.5 to finish 4th.
As well as the tournament competition there was a race for the top spots in the WPR year end standings. When the points were added up Courtney Braun was named Champion. She received a custom made Continental reining saddle, her team mate Janice Boucher placed sixth, winning a gold and silver trophy buckle.
The Saskatchewan riders couldn't have been successful without the help of many. Gayle Cartier was the Chef d'Equipe and kept everything organized for the team. Gayle & husband Daryl also hauled the horses to OKC. Vicki Braun was team coach and helped get the most out of each horse and riders efforts.
More than 16 friends and family made the trip to Oklahoma, and could be seen wearing their red and white shirts cheering and supporting the Canadians on every move.
Coach Braun and team wishes to convey the gratitude of the team to the SHF and the SRHA for hosting the qualifying shows and their support towards attending this international event.