Paralysis doesn't stop O-Mok-See competitor
Since 1976, Rorrie Toren from Great Falls, Mont., has been paralyzed from his waist down. He was 16 years old.
His paralysis hasn't stopped him from competing in rodeo events. He is Blackfoot competing in pattern horse racing, known as O-Mok-See.
"Before I was paralyzed, I did it all," Toren said. "I rode bulls and saddle broncs and roped.
"I was breaking a horse when I broke my back," he said. "I was on bareback in a bucking chute. I knew I had broken my back before I hit the ground.
"Then, in 1993, I broke my hip when a horse slipped on mud and fell on me," Toren said.
"I still break my own horses," he said. "Since my son is old enough now, he does the bucking.
"When my son was little, I did the bucking, too," Toren said. "Dad still gets on them [the horses] and tunes them up a little bit.
"I love competing," he said.
When competing, his legs are in braces to keep his legs straight. His boots are kind of locked into the stirrup. His stirrups are tied together to keep his legs from flying.
"I'm not tied into the saddle," he said. "To get into a saddle, I grab the saddle horn. My son or daughter or wife put my leg over the saddle and then I get settled.
He wears two back braces when riding.
Toren rides a 10-year-old registered Quarter Horse named Rifle. The horse stands 17 hands high.
Toren has been competing in O-Mok-See since 1962.
"My three brothers, mom and dad and I would all compete," he said. "That's what's great about O-Mok-See, the whole family competes and you get to ride all week.
Team Arena is a four-person race. Making up the Toren team is Rorrie; his son, Brandon; his wife and his 75-year-old mother, Ellen.
"Everyone looks forward to O-Mok-See season," he said.
Toren married in 1986. Their children are Brandon, born in 1994, and Danelle, born in 1997.
He worked as a dispatcher in the 9-11 Center (emergency services) in Great Falls for 20 years 9 months. He retired for medical reasons.
"If anything big happened in Great Falls, I was on duty," said Toren.