Ocala horsewoman Lori Olson doesn’t shy away from admitting she’s a competitive person. And that’s particularly true when it comes to showing horses.
“I like to say that I was born on a horse,” says Lori, whose parents raised quarter horses. “I began showing at a very early age and have always loved it. Horses and showing have been my passions all of my life.”
Lori’s competitive nature paid off big time last year when she earned a national title from the American Ranch Horse Association. With her quarter horse mare, Retouched, Lori earned the ARHA award for 2018 High Point Amateur Halter Mare. To win the award, Lori and Retouched, who goes by her everyday name of Rita, collected points throughout the year in 12 shows spread out across Florida and Georgia.
According to ARHA show criteria, halter horses are judged on type, conformation (how a horse is built), correctness and athletic ability with the all-around equine in mind. The horses are shown in leather halters with leather leads. The handler has to stand the horse for inspection, then walk and trot the horse for the judges.
“I actually bought Rita in 2015 as a trail riding horse,” says Lori, who with her mother Julie attended the ARHA Annual Year-End Awards Banquet in Somerset, Kentucky on January 12. “It was my mom who suggested I show her in halter class. Rita is a very pretty bay roan mare and she shows very well.”
Lori, who has a master’s degree in business administration, also shows Jac Pine Pow Wow, aka Max, a 15-year-old palomino gelding. The duo shows in horsemanship, showmanship and trail, finishing in the top 15 nationally in each of those classes last year.
Lori’s recent showing accomplishments are all the more remarkable given what happened in 1991. Complications during brain tumor surgery left Lori with limited movement on the right side of her body. While there were those who doubted she’d even ride again, let alone show again, Lori knew she would. In a short time, she used a wooden ramp to climb up on Buck’s Bar Five, her old retired mare. She was back in the saddle and, by 1995, she was back showing, too.
“Yes, it’s been different since the brain surgery. But I’ve never thought of myself as disabled, never competed in the disability classes. I’ve adapted and trained my horses to adapt to me,” says Lori, who with her mother, four horses and three dogs lives on Ocala-based Bar Five Farm. “And I love the camarderie of the ARHA. I’m still a very competitive person and I plan to be showing for a long time.”