Woman Recovers From Serious Injury To Compete In Horse Championship

Saturday, November 30th 2019, 9:14 pm
By: Amber Gerard

A Texas woman is competing this week in the Reining Horse Show Championship at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

The competition means a lot to Heidi Pichotta, who after an injury in 2010, lost all feeling in her legs.

"He's resting his back leg there so that kind of tells me where his discomfort is," said Pichotta referring to horse Bubba.

Before becoming an equine therapist, Heidi Pichotta began her career as a physical therapist for athletes.

"I had a barrel horse that I thought I wanted to try using my education on,” she said.

Her horse was getting older and about to retire, so to make her later years more comfortable, Pichotta began using her therapy on her and it seemed to help. It just grew from there she said.

As a rider and competitive reiner, Pichotta knows how important it was to maintain a horses’ physical and mental health.

"Reining puts a lot of stress on their bodies,” she said, “because it’s such a high impact sport. There is a lot of fast maneuvers and a lot of fast leg work and lot of opportunities to hurt their legs."

There are also risk that comes with competing for riders as well. While working on a horse trailer it snapped lost and fell on her; crushing her from the waist down. She lost all feeling in her legs. She was in a wheelchair for two years.

"I think it really did change me as a therapist because I looked at injuries and healing and pain completely different prior to the accident,” she explained. “You know before I thought we can just fix it and make everything better and that’s not how it works."

Determined to ride again, Pichotta used her training in both human sports therapy and equine therapy on her own body, eventually gaining enough strength to ride again.

"I had a really special horse at the time, and I didn't have any feeling from the waist down. I don’t know how I was able to show him, but I did." 

Pichotta is not only providing therapy for the horses at the reigning competition she is also competing with her horse, Bubba on December 3.