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Going Full Circle

Marjie Robinson completes a remarkable comeback with NRCHA Stakes Level 1 Ltd. Open win

From Horsetrader staff reports - April 18th, 2013 - Cover Story, Show & Event News
Ted and Marjie Robinson

Ted and Marjie Robinson

LAS Vegas, Nev. — Marjie Robinson scored the victory of her life when she entered the show pen at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Stakes last month at South Point Equestrian Center.

Then, she won the Level 1 Limited Open Championship.

The determined Robinson, riding her gelding Smart Circle Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Circle N Show Girl), culminated a long, painful recovery from a horrific leg injury by winning her first major competition in years.

“To be honest, when I went in there, I didn’t really have any expectations,” said Robinson, who rode the 2008 gelding to a 646 composite score (214.5 herd/217.5 rein/214 cow) that earned trips to the finals in the Open, Intermediate Open and Limited Open Stakes finals. “I was just excited to be able to show.”

A horse-breeding accident in 2010 left Robinson’s left fibula and tibia shattered from mid-shin to the top of her ankle. The recovery was a long, difficult one, requiring multiple surgeries, bone grafts, dozens of screws and a rehabilation regimen that created self-doubts of walking again, let alone riding.

“I actually reached a point where I gave horses up completely,” admitted Robinson, a former NRCHA Limited Open Hackamore National Champion rider. “I just concluded that this was something I had to just completely let go, and it was just crushing.”

Her horse life, which she had enjoyed since age 11 when she began Pony Club in Poway, was put on hold until January 2012, when she married NRCHA Hall of Fame Horseman and seven-time Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion Ted Robinson. Even then, she was still focused on a recovery, not riding.

“I didn’t go down to the horses too much,” she admits. “I was walking pretty good, but not riding whatsoever.”

Future horse activity was pushed back even further last May, when she underwent surgery to remove 30 screws in her leg believed to be causing severe tendonitis. The removed hardware left holes in her bone that returned her to crutches and an orthopedic boot for six weeks.

The boot came off in August, and she attended the National Stock Horse Association Futurity in Paso Robles.

“I was just watching everybody show, and on our way back, Teddy said, ‘Why are you limping?’,” she says. Marjie returned to her orthopedic surgeon who told her she had re-fractured the leg.

“I had fought and fought and tried so hard,” she says. “And when it broke again, I almost surrendered. I just had no more try in me.”

After traditional methods had failed to return the integrity of her leg, she turned to alternative treatments including naturopathy, acupuncture and 18 daily treatments in a hyperbaric chamber.

“You just cannot give up. Just when you can’t take anymore, you have to go further — you don’t know what’s around that next corner.”

By early November, she got on a horse for the first time, urged by Ted and his son, Tucker.

“I got on and they laughed at me and said ‘go run and stop’, and I had no timing whatsoever,” she says. “It was very awkward.”

It was two more weeks before she went down the fence, then she returned to the show pen at the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association Triple Crown, where they competed successfully.

“I had a really nice horse that I went down the fence the first time at home, and it went well,” she says. “Teddy said ‘well, it doesn’t look like you missed a beat.’ My heart was pounding, and I thought ‘well, easy for you to say!'”

After the SCRCHA Triple Crown, Robinson began riding twice weekly in preparation for the Stakes. As the event neared, she began to ride her two horses briefly each day following a trip to the gym each morning for some strength work under a personal trainer’s tutelage.

“Trying to keep everything strong,” she says, “so that if — God forbid — I ever got bumped or twisted, I would be strong enough to hold. Every day, I would go to the gym and just do a little bit on the bike, or some strength training.”

Even those workouts were liberating when contrasted with her rehabiliation days — those first 14 months after sustaining a compound fracture so severe that emergency personnel gathered up bone fragments from the dirt and brought them to the hospital where she underwent four days of treatments. Her spirits were further tested about a month after the accident when a condition called complex regional pain syndrome, a secondary nerve disorder, struck the affected leg. Her left foot acted as though it was dying, she says, because of the condition.

“The foot itself hadn’t been injured, but it wasn’t allowing any circulation down there,” she explains. “That foot actually started to die. It was black as could be.”

Robinson was treated with a variety of medications, which she says made her ill and, because she wasn’t eating, her bones were not healing.

“It was really just quite a mess,” she says.

She eventually progressed to a point where she began a five-month physical therapy regimen, going three times a week. She couldn’t do much with the cast, and upon its removal, she was met with a new challenge — she didn’t have any control over her toes on the affected foot. In fact, they were contorted and crossed around each other.

“One of my physicians told me that if I didn’t use my hand to move my toes, I would not walk again,” she says. “And it was so painful — it would bring me to tears when I tried to move those toes.”

Her hopes of riding again ended.

“I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself,” she says. “I just thought that horses were not going to be part of my life, and I was going to move on.”

Then her hopes rekindled, becasue of Ted. By the time they married early last year, Marjie had been walking somewhat and lightly exercising without crutches or the boot.

“When the two of us started dating, he said it was fine if I didn’t want to ride — that it was not going to affect his life or our marriage,” she says. “Then as we were married, I thought, ‘you know, I really do want to do it and be part of it.’ So I started to go down to the barn and watching for a long time. It was six months of marriage before I decided that I MIGHT want to ride again.”

“He’s been my good friend for 10 years, and it’s so wonderful being married to your best friend,” she adds. “I couldn’t ask for a better coach, either. My hat goes off to him because with the injury and everything, I probably haven’t been the best student — maybe a little hard to help.”

The March 30 victory proved to be an emotional day.

“It’s so exciting to be able to ride and compete again,” she says. “I just can’t believe it, and making the Open finals was something I never even considered!”

The uncomplicated and talented Smart Circle Cat helped build her confidence, and she knew “Woodrow,” trained primarily by Tucker, was ready to step up to the challenge in Las Vegas.

Chris Dawson wins Stakes Open
Continuing a hot streak that began in January in San Angelo, Texas, when he rode the first- and second-place horse at the NRCHA Celebration of Champions Derby, Chris Dawson of Jacksboro, Texas, claimed the NRCHA Stakes Open Championship on his own horse, Travelin Jonez (Smart Chic Olena x Travelin With Sass x Travalena). Dawson piloted the 5-year-old stallion to a 664.5 composite score (221 herd/218 rein/225.5)

The Stakes Open Reserve Championship ended in a three-way tie that included the Stakes Intermediate Open Champion, SDP Blue Blood (Laredo Blue x SDP I Got Good Genes) shown by Matt Koch for K & H Performance Horses; Oh Cay Meriah (Light N Lena x Meradas Oh Cay), shown by Todd Crawford for Russ Mothershead; and Wanna Winna Prize (Smokums Prize x Ill Be A Winning Gal), shown by Justin Wright for Winston Moore. All scored a total 653 on three events to earn $19,358. Koch also took the the Stakes Intermediate Open Championship.

In the Stakes Limited Open, Kelby Phillips rode Shes Wright On (Hes Wright On x Sue C Shiner) for owner/breeders Garth and Amanda Gardiner a total 642.5 score (208 herd/214 rein/220.5 cow) and the division top spot.

The Limited Open title paid $3,218. Shes Wright On also earned the Stakes Intermediate Open Reserve Championship, which paid another $4,320

Another Gardiner-owned mare, Fancy Boons N All (Peptoboonsmal x Smart Fancy Zan), also shown by Phillips, finished as the Stakes Limited Open Reserve Champion, earning $1,930 with a total 638.5 score (207 herd/217 rein/214.5 cow).

MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/304B_NRCHA

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