Horseback Riding

Got Courage?

January 28, 2013

Meet some AQHA folks who are horseback riding toward a cure.

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Mary Roes isn’t letting cancer keep her from showing her American Quarter Horses. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Mary Roes, AQHA exhibitor and Region Two committee member, hasn’t let cancer keep her down.

In the midst of planning for the 2012 Region Two Championship, the show committee was hit by an unexpected blow – two of its members were diagnosed with cancer. Mary Roes, treasurer, learned about her breast cancer early in 2012; and Todd Iszler, the show’s co-chairman, found out he faced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early summer.

It made the committee members think of other regional exhibitors and volunteers who’d also faced cancer in some form, and they thought it was time the Region Two honored them. To that end, the show held a “Ride for the Cure” class September 22.

For a $10 entry donation, people could ride in memory or honor of a loved one, or to share their own battle with the disease. The proceeds from the class, along with the sale of $5 pins, went toward cancer research. There were also several silent auction fundraisers at the show to benefit specific cancer fighters.

The American Quarter Horse Journal features stories of bravery and courage from the American Quarter Horse industry to light, bringing its readers the greatest events and introducing them to legendary people and horses.

Here, Mary shares how her horse kept her motivated.

At the end of March 2012, she had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, followed by intensive chemotherapy. She was worn out and thought it might be a good idea to sell her halter horse, Justa Shady Guy.

Instead, she gathered her strength and went to a horse show in Broken Bow, Nebraska. And then to another one in Rapid City, South Dakota. She found it too hard to show both halter in the morning and her reiner, Chex Spinnin Smoke, in the evening, so she just did what she could.

“I had to have something that motivated me beyond sitting there feeling sorry for myself,” Mary says.

Mary and her husband, Richard, farm in Hemingford, Nebraska. Doctors discovered her cancer after a routine mammogram and a follow-up MRI. On top of her struggles through treatment, her father passed away unexpectedly just two weeks after she finished chemotherapy.

“It’s been a year,” Mary says, “but we caught the cancer early. My prognosis is good.”

She adds, “Throughout all of this, I’ve got wonderful friends, and my trainer (Dean Johnson) is super. It teaches you to just keep going and appreciate things more, to have a little more fun in your life and not take it so serious.”

Mary serves on the Region Two Championship Committee as treasurer, helping out with sponsorships, getting ring stewards, etc. She decided to volunteer after showing at the first Region Two, and seeing how much it meant for people to come to the event.

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Her horse show friends have been an inspiration to her.

“Everywhere you turn, there are so many people who’ve been affected by cancer,” she says. “(Horse show photographer) Larry (Larson) was an inspiration. He told me he never missed a day of work. Rosie (Elmore) has just had a good outlook on things.

“They just kept themselves going. I looked at them and said, ‘They faced this with style and grace. I can do it, too.’ ”