An adaptive therapy saddle made professional roper Randy Bird, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a truck accident in 1986, is now available to riders at Circle K Ranch, of Dolores.
After his injury, Bird developed a saddle that lets him continue to ride, and which he produces in his saddle shop in Celeste, Texas. Aboard the saddle, he competed as the first paralyzed contestant in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and later won Reserve World Champion at the American Paint Horse Association World Show.
The Circle K Ranch fundraising drive for its first saddle culminated in a Cowboy Dinner and Show on Saturday, May 30, featuring a concert by cowboy singer, songwriter and actor R.J. Vandygriff. All proceeds from the dinner and a silent auction went toward the $3,000 saddle. Circle K is already receiving donations for a second saddle.
"Traditional therapy riding requires up to three able-bodied helpers - one to lead the horse and two side walkers," said Tom Jones, wrangler at, Circle K Ranch. "The Bird saddle, which keeps the rider upright and stable, eliminates the need for walkers. Experienced riders can even ride independently, without needing someone to lead the horse."
The saddle allows experienced riders to participate trail rides that include inclines and creek crossings, said Jones.
Circle K Ranch, which has partnered with Telluride Adaptive Sports, uses the Randy Bird Adaptive Therapy Saddle in its Wounded Warriors Program.
"On June 10th, we had the first opportunity to put the new saddle to use when a group of Wounded Warriors came to the ranch for a trail ride," said Cindy Brannon, a manager at Circle K Ranch. "One paralyzed participant commented that this was his first time in the woods since his accident 13 years ago. It was a very moving experience for us all."
For more information, call Cindy Brannon at 970-562-3826.