Lift Me Up! Therapeutic Riding Program Rider takes top honors at TRAV Horse Show in 2 Divisions, on off-the-track Thoroughbred

For immediate release: October 26, 2013
Contact: Laura W. Smith, 571-331-7709
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Jake Luoma and his mount, an off-the-track 7-year-old thoroughbred gelding named Radar, were champions in the Walk-Trot Division and took the United Professional Horseman’s Association (UPHA) Exceptional Challenge Cup at the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia’s (TRAV) statewide horse show at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia.
For the past seven years, 17 year-old Jake Luoma has participated in the TRAV Horse Show. From the first time he set eyes on the two and half foot tall trophy for the High Point Rider as it was displayed in a stall, Jake became determined to try and win it. Jake, who is challenged by an Autism Spectrum Disorder, has ridden at Lift Me Up! Therapeutic Riding Program for twice a week for the last seven years under the tutelage of Georgia Bay and other outstanding instructors fine tuning his riding skills to accomplish this goal.


“By setting that objective for himself, that gave him the focus to work extremely hard at improving his riding skills,” remarked Georgia Bay, program director and advanced instructor at Lift Me Up!

Jake’s mother explained that Jake has a countdown clock often used to countdown the days-hours-minutes until Christmas–but Jake reset his clock for the TRAV Horse Show. In a world that often denies opportunities for people with disabilities to compete, Jake found a sport to excel in and developed the expertise at Lift Me Up! to accomplish his dream.

What makes his success even more profound, is that the horse Jake rode was just a foal when Jake first competed at the TRAV Horse Show seven years ago. Bred by Edward Price, the Pennsylvania bred colt by Wheelaway was named BIG WHEEL and was sent into training at the racetrack and ran 4 times for trainer, Steven Krebs earning a sum of $450 without ever finishing better than fourth. Clearly, racing was not his game. After some retraining at a barn for show barn, BIG WHEEL was renamed RADAR. When Radar was learning to jump at the show barn, one young rider nearly came off and Radar stopped and essentially caught her, Donna Zimmerman, the rider’s mother, knew they had found a special safe horse. Radar competed on the horse show circuit and had modest success. When Zimmerman’s daughter outgrew Radar, they sought out Lift Me Up! Therapeutic
Riding Program because they knew he would be a great therapy horse and would be well-cared for there.
“Radar has a huge desire to please his rider,” according to Georgia Bay.

About Lift Me Up!
The Lift Me Up! has provided thousands therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities at its Great Falls stable since 1975. Just recently Lift Me Up! launched a new program for injured veterans called BITS (Back in the Saddle). Each week over 100 riders develop new riding skills that enhance their core strength, balance, coordination and confidence. Lift Me Up! trains volunteers age 14 and older to assist with the therapeutic riding lessons as sidewalkers and leaders. This is a very special equestrian program that engages the best of humanity with extraordinary horses to provide a healing experience for those in our community who are most challenged. Each year hundreds of volunteers donate nearly 10,000 hours of service to support individuals with disabilities and their families. Maintaining a facility with 13 horses, specially trained instructors, is expensive and the cost of lessons accounts for less than half of the actual cost.
Lift Me Up! Inc. is a community organization that relies on financial and in-kind donations from individuals and corporations. It is a 501(c)3 corporation and participates in the United Way #8266 Combined Federal Campaign CPF # 70459. See for more information.