By Julia Ledoux | Inside NOVA | InsideNOVA.com | April 15, 2012
NOKESVILLE, Va. — Doctor’s appointments and medical tests were forgotten, at least temporarily, as Marines galloped around a horse corral Friday, grins wide and a competitive fire in their eyes.
As part of the Semper Fi Fund’s Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program, 10 wounded, ill or injured Marines from the Corps’ Wounded Warrior Regiment at Quantico Marine Corps base were selected to participate in the Wounded Warrior Cutting Horse Classic III, held at the D&M Cattle Company in Nokesville from Tuesday to Saturday.
“It’s exciting to see these Marines come and take this challenge,” said Don York, who owns D&M Cattle Company with his wife, Margaret.
While most of the Marines had some experience working with horses, very few had experience cutting horses, in which a horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single cow from a herd and keep it away for a short period of time.
“By the time they’ve finished here, they are pretty good horsemen, and they’ve built up a lot of confidence, and they have a lot of fun,” York said. “It’s a big adventure for them. It’s a big deal for them.”
Semper Fi Fund Outreach Manager Angie McCrary agreed, and said the competition is “a new way to instill confidence in them [wounded service members].”
The horsemanship program is part of the Semper Fi Fund’s Team Semper Fi, a rehabilitative sports program that is made up of more than 270 injured service members who take part in athletic events around the country.
“It’s an opportunity for them to continue to develop in their recovery, and that’s not just physical and mental recovery, its mind, body and spirit and family,” said Capt. Jill Wolf, public affairs officer for the WWR.
The Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit that provides financial assistance and quality of life solutions for Marines and sailors, as well as for members of the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces, when they become injured in post 9/11 combat or training operations, or they face life-threatening illness or injury.
The Marines worked on their cutting skills during the week and on Saturday put everything they learned to the test as they participated in the competition itself.
And York said it was folks like Moe Pitts, who made the drive from his home in North Carolina just to volunteer at the event, who helped to make it all possible.
“This is my way of paying back to these guys, to the country, to freedom,” he said.