Trick-rider Fairland Ferguson, a Staunton, Virginia, native, will give a demonstration at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, in Barn 6 of the Virginia Horse Center. A question-and-answer session with her will follow.
Ferguson has traveled the world performing as a trick rider. She joined Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede while attending college, working with that group for six years, before touring with Cavalia for six years. She also rode in Australia for a year.
Ferguson grew up riding Hunter/Jumpers, but became bored with it. “Everybody wears the same thing, and the shows are the same,” she said. “So I got into Western pleasure, which gave you a little bit more of a creative liberty.”
In 2003, while on break from college in South Carolina, Ferguson was left fighting for her life after she fell from the top of a cliff at Smith Mountain Lake, breaking 46 broken bones, including 23 in her face, eight ribs, both arms and both legs. She had 13 operations and spent six months in hospital, followed by six months of rehabilitation, which included training to strengthen her eye muscles and learning how to walk again. She lost her basketball scholarship after the accident, but she didn’t give up riding. Ferguson found trick-riding when she took a job at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede near Myrtle Beach.
Ferguson said, “Horses are said to give us the wings we lack to fly, but for me, horses were also my legs when I couldn’t walk, my energy when I had none, my spirit when it was broken and my heart when it was lost.”
Horses have taught me more about myself and my life than I ever thought possible,” she said. “I hope to share this love and understanding with everyone Oct. 8. Whether you’re a young rider, an older cavalier or someone that has never been on a horse. It will be a blast and an event that I’m sure everyone will take something away from.”
Adult tickets are $15, while tickets for children 12 and younger are $12. Children 2 and younger are free.