“Riding Unlimited creates an environment where the participants, whether they be riders, volunteers, or staff can motivate themselves to set goals, and then reach those goals.”
Jim Barton was born with athetoid cerebral palsy.
Though he cannot feed himself or sign his name, Jim graduated from the University of Michigan in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, and had an 18-year career with IBM as a computer programmer/analyst.
He also has served as a board member of United Cerebral Palsy of Metropolitan Dallas and the state board of United Cerebral Palsy Association of Texas. Most people who know Jim know of his involvement in therapeutic horseback riding.
As a rider himself, he competed in 1987 at The World Cup for the Disabled in Sweden as well as at local and national competitions. However, Jim is most proud of being a founder of Riding Unlimited, Inc., bringing horseback riding to the disabled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In Jim’s own words:
Riding the Dream
One is ultimately judged on accomplishments made during a life time, but before every accomplishment, there has to be a dream. How great the accomplishment is, is only limited by the size of one’s dream, and you can take that from me as fact.
When I was a young city boy growing up in Detroit Michigan, I had two big dreams; 1) to ride horses, and 2) to live in Texas. Both of them seemed undoable because I was severely disabled due to cerebral palsy. Due to the realization of many other dreams along the way; 1) I moved to Texas when I was 36 and 2) I began riding when I was 38. I am now 65. I have been on two international equestrian teams and have won many awards.
In 1989, I had another dream that I caught from two other riders. The dream was to have a riding center in the Fort Worth area, and in 1990 Riding Unlimited was born. We began by renting space at Rocky Top. Two years later, we move into a bigger place in Justin, still renting. Then in 1997, Riding Unlimited moved from our rental property in Justin to where it is now. It is sitting on 48 acres in Ponder on its own property (and the bank’s).
A year ago I was sitting in the grandstands at Chisholm Challenge Horse Show for Special Riders and I looked at each center that was there. I realized I had a hand, either directly or indirectly, in their existence. My dear friend, Evelyn Zembrod, who was my riding instructor and mentor and Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, Int’l (PATH) (formerly NARHA) board member, asked me to co-chair PATH Region 8 with her, which was made up of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, and for two years I visit PATH Centers in these states. In 1988 I helped found TEN which is now known as LSTEN, Lone Star Therapeutic Equestrian Network.
One never knows where a dream will lead them.
I am still Riding the Dream!
Ride on, Jim!