If you ask Marisa Myers of Austin, Texas, what she loves more than anything
in life, her answer would unequivocally be “eventing!” If you
asked her what her least favorite thing is, she would probably answer “homework.”
What you wouldn’t hear, however, is an answer about the difficulties
that make her favorite and least favorite activities so challenging. Marisa
has significant developmental delays that impact her ability to process information
as quickly and easily as most of us do.
Consequently, this also affects her balance in the air over a jump. She is a special education student at Dripping Springs High School who must work twice as hard to accomplish half as much—which makes her win at the Crosstar Horse Trials in Okalahoma out of seventeen riders all the sweeter.
Marisa and her Thoroughbred mare, For the Record, scored a 33.5 in dressage at novice rider, and went double clear in both stadium and cross-country. This was their first blue ribbon as a team, and one of the few blue ribbons Marisa has won.
Marisa’s trainer, USEA ICP certified Sally Buffington, of Bulverde, Texas, had faith from the beginning that Marisa could be an accomplished rider; it would just take more time and effort. Sally pushed Marisa to be her best and never accepted less. Sometimes, to outsiders, it seemed too much, too hard, impossible. But Sally, Marisa’s family, and Marisa herself knew that it could be done, and were willing to put in the time and tears it took to make it happen. Those of us who know and love Marisa know that she has worked hard, but also that she took every step of the way with a joy and grace that was inspiring to all of us. When we say that Marisa has worked hard, let us give you a little background into what defined her struggles.
Marisa began taking instruction when her older brother, Mark, went off to Texas A&M and joined the Corps. He had
|Left to Right: Instructor Sally Buffington, Marisa Myers and Marisa's mother, Mary Myers.|
been Sally’s student for two years. Marisa was then fourteen years
old and owned a black Appendix mare with anhydrosis named Magic. Marisa had
no riding skills and was not physically active. She would fall off in slow
motion when learning to post the trot. She would fall off going over two x’s
in a row. We took her and Magic to a rated show that her brother Mark was
competing in so she could watch. After the show, Sally ran alongside Marisa
and Magic in a stadium course helping her to see the rhythm of the course,
where to come in and how to salute the judge. Then, at Marisa’s first
horse trial she had 115 penalty points even though she had clean stadium and
cross-country runs. They were time penalties that we gladly accepted for safety
reasons. There were abundant tears from all of us when she crossed the finish
line in cross-country!
We sold Magic because she couldn’t sweat, and we had to find a new horse for Marisa on a very tight budget. The first horse didn’t work out; his name was Thomas Crown. He was sold to another sport, which Marisa agreed to with that sweet spirit. Her only concern was that we had monogrammed his name on everything. We decided we would just have to name the next horse Thomas Crown, too. He came in the form of a 14.2 gray pony from a sale in Pennsylvania. He was stubborn, had never had a job before and did not want one.
It took six long months to change his mind, but Thomas Crown II became a wonderful, cheerful, enthusiastic, safe mount for Marisa and they learned Beginner Novice together. The people in Area V always cheered Marisa on. It was not pretty in the beginning as she held onto the bit in the air and was always behind the motion of the jump. She kept plugging away and wanted to move up to Novice. There was a long silence when she called Sally and asked if she could move up. The two issues would continue to be safety first and physical fitness ensuring safety next. She was told she had to learn to better influence her balance by landing in her feet and not on his neck. Only then would she be allowed to move up. She worked hard over the summer. She willingly jumped a triple on the buckle knowing she would probably fall off…and she did. Sally would brush off the sand, give her a hug, and send her back over it until she found her balance. She and Thomas did Novice and she finished fifth in the NTEA awards for 2004!
A Thoroughbred mare that Sally had broken as a three year old came up for sale. She was oh so talented, My Babu bred, but oh so tricky to handle. We had always admired that mare. There was another phone call with silence on the other end. Sally said she would agree to try and put them together, but if it did not work we had to sell the mare and find Marisa another, sweeter horse. The mare’s new show name became ‘For the Record’. This was done for Marisa because “for the record” we felt she could handle it. This spring season, 2005, was their first season together after much cross-country schooling in preparation. Marisa had to learn how to ride a smart, quick, hot Thoroughbred properly. This was not a pony that was forgiving. She wanted a Thoroughbred and now she had one!
Over the last nine months they have persevered, together, a team. They made music together at Crosstar in Oklahoma. Her halt in dressage was flawless followed by a giving hand. Her stadium was beautiful over a technically difficult course with sloping terrain. Her cross-country was correct and they were one in the air at take off as well as landing. All of it came together for Marisa that weekend, four years of hard work and facing what seemed to be insurmountable odds. She finished on her dressage score and won…it does not get any better than that.
The winning was wonderful, but what she had accomplished was even more wonderful. Once again the fantastic people in Area V were cheering her on because they have seen her grow as a rider and fellow competitor the last four years. Now, The Eventing Shop is sponsoring her. Randy has watched her all these years and he wants to be a part of her team. Weatherall Enclosures of Austin has also provided Marisa with a beautiful, custom-made tack box. This is a wonderful sport—hard, expensive, thrilling and potentially dangerous. What Marisa has gained from it is immeasurable. Against all odds, Marisa has shown that she has what it takes to be an eventer.
As we went to school Monday morning we were reflecting silently on the weekend. “Mom,” she said, “it just doesn’t seem real.” For the record…she is right!
NOTE: Marisa is now nationally ranked - she is tied for 9th in the nation!
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