Courtney Braun - Reiner of the Year 2016
Reining Canada is pleased to announce Courtney Braun as "Reiner of the Year" for 2016
" I have known Courtney since she was an infant and watched her grow into the fine young lady she is today. I have never witnessed a competitor that has more love of her sport and pure enjoyment of the competition. Courtney's enthusiasm and determination has had an amazing effect on all those watching her compete" - Judy Skwarek - Reining Canada
Courtney Braun (by Brooklyn Braun)
Looking back on the 2016 reining season I think, would bring many people many good memories. Some of these memories might involve winning your first buckle, being undefeated with your derby horse, or travelling to your first big international show. However, when you think about it a lot of the best memories are ones of the people you met and the experiences you shared with them. Sometimes this person gives you the extra boost of confidence before you go into the pen or just a warm smile in the morning while feeding horses. These type of people not only make your day but it is also obvious that they brighten everyone else's day around you. For me, this person is my sister, Courtney Braun.
Proud parents Brian and Vicki Braun, Judy Skwarek, Courtney Braun and RC President Kim Maharaj - presentation at the CCRHA Banquet 2017
Courtney was diagnosed with meningitis just a few days after being born and developed Cerebral Palsy that she has dealt with for the last 20 years of her life. Courtney communicates a little different with people as she cannot speak but when it comes to communicating with her horse that is not an issue. When Courtney was little she would show at the open shows with me but when I started travelling to reining shows with my mom and her non-pros, Courtney did not have any classes to show in and because of that she never came to as many shows. Three years ago our Saskatchewan Quarter Horse Show started to offer Equine with Disability classes and Courtney started to compete in Western Pleasure, Trail and Showmanship with her trusty steed Solano, an ex-cutting horse of my dad’s. From the very first time Courtney showed in her EWD class it was impossible not to notice the glow she had while in the show pen. The special thing about it was that it not only brought Courtney great joy to show her horse but everyone else too.
In recent years the World Para Reining Association was created and for the first time riders with disabilities would be able to show in the sport of reining with modified patterns that allowed them to show with the needed assistance. Even though para-reining has been in the southern states for a few years it was not made available in western Canada until 2015. Courtney has shown in the para reining for the last two years now and this association has been one of the best things that has happened to the sport of reining. After competing at a few local shows in 2015 Courtney ended up 5th overall in the world and my parents decided to try and haul her to enough shows this year to finish first overall, winning the highpoint year end saddle. Well, she did. In October, Courtney travelled with two other para-reiners from Canada to the AQHA World Finals where she represented Canada in the Para-Reining and helped the team to earn overall team Silver and herself win the year end highpoint saddle. Now I could go on about what she has won but that isn’t why I think Courtney deserves the title of “Reiner of The Year” for 2016. Most people when they ride, saddle their horse, and get on and go. For Courtney it is not that easy.
Because of her cerebral palsy Courtney does not have the greatest balance but thanks to my amazing mother she has made adjustments to Courtney’s Saddle that allows her to ride on her own without the fear of her falling. This alone is a big step for Courtney. The next reason is because Courtney is one of the best ambassadors of the sport I have ever seen. I think a lot of people get too caught up in who’s winning what and forget to enjoy the opportunity given to them to show horses. One of the slogans put forth by the world para reining association is “changed by chance, champion by choice” and I think Courtney really shows what that saying means. Every day, whether Courtney is showing or not she chooses to love what she does. Courtney is passionate about her horse and her friends and you can tell that by interacting with her even the smallest amount. Courtney loves what showing horses is really about. Getting to show off the bond that she and her horse have which is like none other. And at the end of the day whether she had a good show or not, Courtney is thankful for all that she is given and even though she cannot verbally express that, it is easily seen in the genuine, shining smile that never comes off her face.
I know without a doubt that Courtney reminds people every day how blessed they are to be able to show horses and have the bond with them that they do because it is something she never takes for granted.