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Be thankful for the hard times, for they have made you.

No one understands this more than the 2019 Ultimate Congress Giveaway winner, Lola Marzec. Lola is 17 years old and from Mentor, OH. This is Lola’s first time showing at the Congress, but she is no stranger to the show or the industry. She has been visiting the Congress for years, especially as a birthday treat since her birthday is October 4th. Lola showed Leos Lookin Peppy, or Bubba, a 20 year old bay Quarter Horse gelding. Bubba was once a money-earning cowhorse, but now is Lola’s reining mount and best friend. Bubba and Lola showed in youth ranch riding and the non-pro freestyle reining.

The journey to the Congress has not always been smooth sailing. At one and a half, Lola’s father was killed in a car accident. Ever since, her mother Julie has done everything to make Lola’s dreams come true. Lola’s dad was a 4-H advisor in their home of Lake County, and he passed his love and legacy towards agriculture and the animal industry to his daughter. An equestrian and avid 4-H member from a young age, Lola also qualified to compete at the 4-H Nationals in Steel Rifle and Steel Pistol, but ultimately declined the invitation in order to prepare for the Congress. She also shows with Central Ohio Reining Association and Western Pennsylvania Reining Horse Association.

Lola’s journey in the horse industry has also been anything but easy. Her first year showing, Lola was 11 years old and rode a solid paint who was not a kid’s horse. Lola appreciated the chance to show, but says that horse gave her a run for her money. Even so, she was bit by the horse bug and couldn’t get enough. Since then, Lola has ridden multiple horses and has never had the easiest mounts. Lola has been training with KC Pierce from Middlefield, OH since age 5 and says that Pierce has made her the well-rounded, strong, and humble rider that she is today. Pierce gives Lola the opportunity to ride a variety of horses from ponies to drafts, and Lola feels that every horse she has worked with has tested her and helped her earn her stripes.

When asked what her goals were for her very first Congress, her answer was simple. “Winning a ribbon or medal is nice, but I win if I had a good ride and got something out of my horse,” she states. She was most excited to ride in the non-pro division of the sold-out Congress NRHA Freestyle Reining presented by dac, and was one of the youngest competitors to ever compete in the event here at the Congress. Her highlight of the Congress was riding in the practice arena upon arriving on the grounds and having world-renowned trainer Casey Deary wish her a happy birthday. Deary, Shawn Flarida, and Mandy and Tom McCutheon are Lola’s biggest idols, and she hopes to someday work and train under them while working towards her ultimate goal of being the all-time leading rider in the National Reining Horse Association.

After a great ride in the Youth Ranch Riding, Lola and Bubba went on to compete in the non pro Congress NRHA Freestyle Reining presented by dac, where they finished in the top 10, placing 6th! Lola also found a new friend here at the Congress: Willow, an 11 week old Newfoundland puppy. Lola would like to thank her mom, her Uncle Joe, her grandparents, her trainer Casey Pierce, and everyone from Lake County 4-H, who held a watch party back home to watch her compete in the Freestyle. Lola and mom Julie say that it took a village to get Lola to where she is and they are truly thankful. Congratulations Lola on being the very deserving winner of the Ultimate Congress Giveaway!

Written by Autumn Fickel


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