Heart to Heart
Arabelle Laddusaw, 12, has grown up around horses. With two older siblings who competed in rodeo, it was natural that the Billings, Montana, native would want to join in. Arabelle, who was born at 28 weeks, has cerebral palsy, a condition that can affect mobility, balance and posture. While Arabelle can’t walk without assistance—she uses a walker and crutches as needed—she loves horses and can’t get enough of rodeo.
I love rodeo because it makes me forget all my worries and my CP.
“I love rodeo because it makes me feel alive and forget all my worries and my CP,” Arabelle says. “Rodeo also lets me make new friends who don’t care if I’m different. I also get to be with my horses—my best friends and soul mates!”
Arabelle’s mom, Christine, a customer service representative with NSM, loves her daughter’s passion for staying active. “Rodeo is just one way Arabelle stays active,” she says. “She does wrestling at school and enjoys rock climbing. She just doesn’t give up.”
For 10 weeks each summer, rodeo is Arabelle’s life. She currently competes in barrel racing and pole bending a timed event in which a horse and rider weave around six poles arranged in a line. Until recently, Arabelle has competed in goat tail tying, a rodeo event designed for kids, even winning a buckle at one competition.
“When Arabelle started rodeo, someone would lead her horse around the arena,” Christine says. “She has slowly worked up to doing everything herself.”
During the summer rodeo season this year, Arabelle expects to compete in one rodeo competition per week. In addition, she usually rides her horse several times a week in preparation for competitions—and, well, just because she likes it.
“She loves rodeo,” Christine says. “It’s great for her to feel the same as everyone else and not feel different. She just keeps going out there and getting better.”
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