Click here to view the episode that The Real Winning Edge produced of Mary by clicking here!
It's Congress time again, and around this time last year, we wrote a story about a remarkable youth exhibitor from Virginia, Mary Huddleston, who was in the fight of her life trying to overcome her second bout of a rare type of bone cancer known as Ewing's Sarcoma.
Despite having recent hip replacement surgery, she garnered enough strength to show and place sixth in the Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle 14-18 at the Congress with her horse, Assets In A Artbeat (Ralphie).
The 17 year-old and Ralphie are back again at this year's Congress to compete in the 15-18 Youth Hunter Under Saddle under the supervision of Paul and Tami Thurston.
In May of this year, Huddleston underwent a stem cell transplant where she was in the hospital for three weeks and was quarantined for a hundred days since her immune system was essentially wiped out. At this point, Huddleston has been in remission for five months and the doctors have given her a good prognosis.
Not long ago, producers from the television series, The Real Winning Edge, contacted Huddleston about being involved in a faith-based show about inspirational youth overcoming sickness, addiction and other obstacles in their life. Courtney Martin, Manager of Youth and Education for AQHA, told the producers about Mary, and she was chosen to be featured in an episode for the television show.
Filming began a few weeks ago at the Virginia State Fair, the producers shot Huddleston and Ralphie competing in the 14-18 Youth Hunter Under Saddle where they placed first and second.
"It was a lot of fun being filmed, and it was a challenge because I had not ridden since April due to my stem cell transplant," Mary told GoHorseShow. "My hip hurts when I ride but it becomes bearable after awhile--I guess I just become used to it. It was good to be back in the saddle, and I can't wait to show again at the Congress."
The producers also filmed the 17 year-old at school, home, and riding her horse bareback. Mary and her mom also reenacted a chemo session, and the show interviewed Mary, her mother, teachers, friends, physical therapist and doctors.
"One interesting thing about filming is that I had to wear summer clothes when it was in the high 50s, low 60s outside," Mary recalls. "I was freezing. I also had to stare into the morning sun for an hour and a half during my interview--that was very hard because the light had to be directly in my face for camera purposes."
One admiring trait that GoHorseShow has learned about Huddleston is that she certainly doesn't take no for an answer. Last year, after her hip replacement, the doctors told her it would be six months to a year before she could ride again, but she was determined to ride at the Congress, and she did! The doctors have also stressed that she shouldn't ride horses or play basketball anymore due to the risk of injury--but she is determined to continue to excel in both sports.
"I'm going to continue working at both activities that I love," Mary says. "I may not be able to run like I used to in basketball or be as strong of a rider due to my hip replacement and fighting cancer--but I'm more determined because of my experiences and I hope people find inspiration from my story."
Mary's episode will run the first Sunday in December on many television stations across the country. Click here to find out where it is airing near you.
GoHorseShow wishes Mary good luck at the Congress. Be sure to check out her ad in the October issue of GoMag by clicking here.