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Houston Rodeo “Top Hands” Horse Show

There are some children that, unfortunately, may never be able to actually become rodeo stars because of physical or mental disabilities. This, however, has not stopped the wonderful people at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from giving these beautiful children a little something to make them very happy. It’s called Top Hands and it’s a 3 day ‘rodeo’ competition for riders of all ages who are physically or mentally challenged.

One of the wonderful volunteers for the last 13 years has been Lynn Harris from the Texas A & M Foundation. This year she’s not only volunteering she’s serving as the vice chairman of what many folks call the ‘Special Olympics of the Equestrian world’.

The Top Hands competition provides six events to compete in for physically challenged riders of all ages. There’s showmanship at halter, trail, barrel racing, English equitation and Western Equitation as well as pole bending. The entire show is divided into several distinct divisions that are based on the assistance that is needed for a particular child.

The truth is, if you’ve never been to the Top Hands competition you’ve been missing what can only be described as a truly moving part of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. These children have tackled an enormous amount of adversity with strength, perseverance and pride. One warning; watching these youngsters go through the competition may just bring a tear to your eyes and a bit of joy to your heart.

One of the reasons that Top Hands is so popular is that hippotherapy or therapeutic riding, is so good for the children. It improves muscle coordination, balance, concentration and maybe most importantly builds confidence. For many children who are confined to wheelchairs hippotherapy and the Top Hands competition is a way for them to gain just a little bit of mobility and freedom.

One of the best reasons to go however is just to see the joy on the faces of these brave young kids as they go through the 6 Top Hands events. Their courage and willpower in the face of heavy odds is truly moving and a makes Top Hands a highlight of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

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