A great story wanders by the AQHA booth at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
By Holly Clanahan of America’s Horse
As Annette Bevelhymer and her son, Kory, walked the grounds of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on Saturday afternoon, looking for tips that would help Kory with his American Quarter Horse, Korys Miracle Spirit, it truly was a miracle they were even there.
“When Kory was 5 years old, he had to have a bone marrow transplant down in Cincinnati, (Ohio),” Annette says. He has Fanconi anemia, and doctors warned Annette that he likely wouldn’t survive the transplant. Annette was steadfast. “Oh yes we are,” she told the doctors. “I’m going to take him out of here, and he’s going to be fine.”
It took about a year of hospitalization at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital before she and Kory were able to make good on that promise. But go home, they did. And as soon as Kory was able, Annette made good on something else.
While he was in the hospital, Kory had told her, “When I get out of here, Mom, I’m going to be a cowboy.” And, of course, he wanted a horse, too.
“We had never had horses before,” Annette says, smiling now as she is outfitted head to toe in western attire. “We had admired them from afar, but just never had any.”
When Kory gained enough strength, Annette put him in riding lessons. Before long, the family had acquired a horse. Being novices, they bought a yearling – but they soon found their way to experienced people who offered the necessary help.
The good thing about buying a youngster was that Kory was able to name the horse himself. “Spirit” was his pick, and so the little sorrel, who traces to Dry Doc on top and Artful Move on the bottom, was registered as Korys Miracle Spirit.
“Miracle” was fitting, because “that’s what they called Kory down in Cincinnati. He was their miracle,” Annette says.
Kory, who’s now 14, shows Spirit, now 6, in 4-H competition, mainly in western pleasure. But he’s intrigued by reining and has been trying to get Spirit to spin. Coming to WEG – where literally the best reiners in the world are hanging out – was a chance to build his knowledge.
“I love him to death,” Kory says of his horse. “I just like going out to ride when I get the chance to go out. I love to go out to ride him and try to get him to turn.”
“He does like to go out and try to get Spirit to do new things,” Annette agrees. “He works real well with him, and you can see that bond there. Spirit wouldn’t do anything to hurt Kory at all, ever.”
Kory’s riding time is limited – not by his health now, thankfully, but by the time that his role on the football team takes up. Kory, an eighth grader, plays wide receiver and cornerback for Shelby (Ohio) Middle School.
He grins and agrees when asked if he’s fast – and tough.
“He’s a fighter,” Annette says. And he no longer requires any transplant-related medications, just an annual blood test to make sure all is well. According to the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, this very rare genetic disease “may affect all systems of the body. It is a complex and chronic disorder that is psychologically demanding. FA is also a cancer-prone disease, affecting patients decades earlier than the general population.”
By now, quite a number of AQHA and NRHA staffers had heard Kory’s story. And although the slots had already been filled for Saturday’s Ride a Reiner event, which gives WEG goers the chance to take a mini reining lesson aboard a finished reining horse, the team mobilized. Before long, NRHA staffers had secured Kory a ride aboard Lenas Taxman, an AQHA Select world champion reining horse owned by Michael and Pam Shelton of Mayfield, Kentucky. And NRHA professional trainer Josh Visser of Whitesboro, Texas, had volunteered to give him a lesson.
Kory got tips on how he could help Spirit begin spinning and sliding, and the grin on his face was payoff enough for everybody.
“Awesome!” he said, leaving the John Deere Reining Arena.
He says he wants show Spirit in reining – his newfound interest – at his county fair, but Mom says that’s just being modest.
“His dreams are to get out there and show Spirit at bigger shows than just the fair, but 4-H is a great place for kids to start, it has taught us a lot, for people that had never owned a horse. So we have learned a lot, and it’s just a new love for us.”
Kory and Annette, here’s to your journey! From AQHA and speaking for our friends at NRHA, we hope the lesson at WEG was helpful, and we wish you much success!