BY SUSAN COLLINS-SMITH
Placing first at the Southern Regional Horse Show might not seem like a great feat to some, but for former Bolivar County 4-H’er Jamie Mangum, it meant overcoming difficult obstacles.
Mangum is no ordinary 4-H’er. Though he was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder affecting the ability to control movement, he has never let his disability control him.
“Jamie made great strides in his ability to show horses independently,” said Laura Giaccaglia, Mississippi State University Extension Service Bolivar County Director, who also has 4-H responsibilities in the county. “He has gone from needing assistance in the ring to being able to do everything on his own.”
Mangum underwent two surgeries on each of his legs in 2004 and 2005 followed by physical therapy, which allowed him to gain the strength he needs to show his halter horses on his own.
Even when he needed assistance, Mangum was an award-winning competitor.
“Every year since 2003, when I came to Bolivar County, Jamie has won either champion or reserve champion in the halter horse class,” Giaccaglia said. “This year, his final year in 4-H, was really special. My job during the Southern Regional Horse Show was to hand out trophies and ribbons, and I was able to present Jamie with his first-place trophy. I have watched Jamie endure the surgeries and physical therapy and get to the point of showing on his own, so presenting his trophy was pretty special for me.”
Being able to show independently has allowed Jamie, now 19, to start showing halter horses in the American Quarter Horse Youth Association, which does not allow any kind of assistance in the show ring. At the recent Youth World Show of the American Quarter Horse Youth Association in Oklahoma City, Jamie finished in the top 10, at seventh place overall.
“I go all over the place doing this,” Mangum said. “We show in Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas a lot and some in Alabama. I try to haul once a month.”
Showing horses is just a way of life for Mangum and his family, according to Mangum’s mom, Angie Mangum.
“We all show horses in my family,” Angie Mangum said. “I was in 4-H, and Jamie’s dad was in 4-H. I got Jamie involved when he was 8 years old because I think 4-H is a good way to get started showing horses and for kids to learn other life skills as well.”
Giaccaglia believes 4-H had a hand in helping Jamie overcome his disability.
“I think his love for horses developed his determination and helped him to get to the point he’s at now – being able to show his horses without any assistance,” Giaccaglia said. “He loves his horses, and because of that passion, he has the drive to work and strive to be the best he knows he can be.”
Mangum’s dedication and the support he receives from his family have positively impacted his progress.
“Our horse trainer, Monty, and his wife, Anna, have worked with Jamie for about two years,” Angie Mangum said. “They, along with my father, have spent countless hours with Jamie practicing.”
Jamie Mangum said the love and support of his family has been a driving force of his advancement.
“My dad, my whole family, everybody has helped me a lot,” he said.
Now he wants to return the favor.
“I just signed up to be a 4-H volunteer,” Jamie Mangum said. “I have done 4-H so long, and this way I can still be a part of it. I will be helping Laura do horse club, and I hope we can get kids interested in horses.”
Mangum graduated from high school in May. He is a student at Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead and has a mowing business. His said his goal is to one day own a farm.