In April 2022, on the cusp of the APHA World Show, Lila Schinker and her sorrel tobiano mare Appealing Rose faced a life-changing crisis: the young mare was suffocating on her own breath. Veterinarians quickly diagnosed “Willow” with Severe Arytenoid Chondritis, a deadly inflammation of the cartilage that covers the opening to the trachea. The diagnosis was devastating, and though it threatened to end their competition goals, Lila was unwilling to abandon her “heart horse” and vowed to help the mare recover.
“People were trying to get me to ride again—and I said that if her career ended, so would mine,” Lila said tearfully. “It was easily the hardest time of my life, and I was fully expecting to retire from the show pen forever, since the only horse I wanted to show was her.”
Eight months later, which included a 21-day vet hospital stay, Willow made a miraculous recovery and returned to the arena.
Now, a year later, Lila and Appealing Rose are making their dreams come true at the 2023 APHA World Show.
“We’re just blessed to be here,” said Regina Schinker, Lila’s mother. “It’s been a year from hell. And now—six neck ribbons and six belt buckles; it’s been a miracle comeback.”
Lila and Willow were crowned world champions in Novice Youth Western Pleasure 18 & Under and were champions in the Youth Ideal Paint Western class—an event they won in 2021 before Willow’s diagnosis.
“It was such a surreal experience because she was supposed to die, and I was supposed to be done showing horses” Lila said. “We both made each other world champions.”
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses