From Tragedy to Triumph

While on her way to the Pinto World Championship, Vannah Paulson’s dream of competing at her first world show came to an end after her horse suffered a devastating injury. With the help from friends, family, and even strangers, Vannah was still able to make her dream come true—even if it looked a little different than originally planned.

After the long haul from Washington state, Vannah and the rest of her barn’s horses were resting about an hour outside of Tulsa before move-in day at the Pinto World Championship. Vannah’s horse Iconic Sensation, or Connor, got loose and ended up with a serious injury to his left front leg. After being rushed to Pine Ridge Equine Hospital, Vannah and her family learned that while Connor didn’t suffer any permanent nerve damage, he did have a large hematoma and severe swelling in his leg. This confirmed the family’s fears—Vannah would not be competing at this year’s world show.

Fellow barn mate Julie Daniels knew how hard Vannah worked to get to her first world show and couldn’t let her story come to an end just yet. While Daniels was already planning to compete in the amateur events with her mare, Invite Kathy, she offered Vannah the chance to show her mare in some of the youth classes taking place. 

“I didn’t even have to think about it,” said Julie. “I just wanted Vannah to be able to compete, she is such a great kid and worked so hard to get here.”

Vannah jumped at the opportunity to be able to compete, but there was just one problem. She was preparing to show Connor in the English events and had only brought tack and clothing for those particular classes, and Invite Kathy competes in the Western events.

Vannah Paulson with Julie Daniels and Invite Kathy Jillian Sinclair

With only a couple of days to pull something together, members of the Pinto community came together to make sure Vannah was ready to compete. Strangers heard about Vannah’s story on Facebook and immediately reached out to see if they could help with an outfit, hat, or boots. With each piece of clothing from a different person, Vannah was able to put together an outfit that would allow her to compete in the youth halter mares and youth tobiano color classes.

“So many people came together to help me,” Vannah exclaimed. “We ended up putting together a show outfit made from several people which was pretty fun!”

Suited with the right outfit and the right horse, Vannah made her world show debut where she ended up third in the youth tobiano color and a reserve world champion in the youth halter mares.

“It was just amazing to see the Pinto community come together to help a kid they didn’t even know accomplish this dream she’s had for years and even come out with a buckle. It was just amazing,” exclaimed Vannah’s mom, Becky.

Vannah and her family are so thankful to the horse community who came together to help make her dream come true.

“The people in the horse industry are a special breed,” said Becky. “And we couldn’t have done any of this without them.” 

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