Volunteers Keep Our Program Alive!
Our newest volunteer, Jean Jacques Robert, Newfoundland service dog, who loves and entertains everyone, and helps Kari Ann balance while walking on snow, ice and uncertain ground! Jean Jacques is still a puppy at 125
pounds, and he aids our students with learning to lead horses!
Our newest human volunteers. These advanced riders aid our students in helping their relaxed yet alert riding
posture. And they help our beginning jumpers.
An interview with Sophie L., Wildhorse! Volunteer
and English riding student. Sophie volunteered and studied basic dressage and
English equitation at Wildhorse in 2010, is resuming both her studies and
volunteering in February 2011. Sophie studies at the University of CA,
News: Sophie has graduated from Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine!
elements of riding did you study with Kari Ann?
Kari Ann very patiently and enthusiastically taught me the foundations
of how to safely mount and ride a horse using minimal force, emphasizing body
language and relaxation in the realm of equitation and English-style riding.
What were your
specific riding goals with Kari Ann?
My specific goal involved learning how to effectively communicate to the horse
while transitioning from walk to trots
to canter. The rising trot was a primary concern, but Kari Ann was a patient
and supportive teacher.
What kind of encouragement and help was Kari Ann able to offer?
Above all, riding a horse takes courage, patience, and empathy. Kari Ann
provided all the necessary verbal praise and encouragement that kept me feeling
confident in my (sometimes bumpy!) seat. She made me feel that I was capable
and truly have potential.
you achieve by the time your lessons ceased?
By the time my lessons ceased, I knew the correct equitation form of
simply sitting in the seat (sitting trot). I gained a deeper understanding of
horse behavior and of how to communicate
with them without resorting to physical force. I felt a deeper connection with
horses and developed a finer sense of a horse's ability in relation to my
want to study with Kari Ann again? If so, why?
Yes! I would love to study with Kari Ann again. She is patient,
encouraging, and incredibly empathetic. She understands a person's needs
clearly and uses her best judgment, teaching activities, and verbal praise to
keep you feeling confident and capable. She is not elitist and never professes
to "know-it-all". She is so warm, and she invites you to tell her how
you feel throughout the lesson. She's constantly updating her teaching
curriculum and methods based on what works best for you, what makes you feel most safe, and what will also push you to the next level.
What were your experiences like as a volunteer with
Wildhorse? Was Kari Ann helpful and informative? When she needed to correct
you, did she respect your dignity as a human being? Would you recommend her as a
I came to Wildhorse without much horse handling experience. Kari Ann
gave me just enough instruction and freedom to allow me to "figure it
out" on my own, but she was always there for me when I had questions. I
developed my own intuition about how best to handle a horse based on her
patient support, and I gladly accepted
her advice and critique when I deserved it!
She always approached me with understanding and empathy, so I very happily
soaked up all the information she had to teach me. I would definitely recommend
her as a supervisor, and I hope all her ambitions come to
I am a Wildhorse! Volunteer
My love of
both horses and the children who love them, and years of equestrian training
and practice, enables me to be a senior volunteer at Wildhorse, a therapeutic
horseback riding program in Livermore, CA, directed by Dr. Kari Ann Owen.
I was a preschool teacher
for 15 years of infants, toddlers and children up to 12 years of age.
I have been riding since
age eight, and was initially trained by the foreman of a ranch in Redding , CA.
I then learned the vaquero method of
hackamore training (bitless face piece,http://www.horsechannel.com/western-horse-training/vaquero-way-17722.aspx)
from a graduate student of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Agricultural and
Horsemanship Program while I attended California
Further training has
included more equestrian training and riding clinics while a member of the Walnut Creek 4-H.
As an adult, I trained and
rode 4 horses of my own in Brentwood
, CA, teaching my 3 daughters at
the same time. My preference is for the Arabian horse, for pleasure riding.
I currently own and ride
my own Arabian mare that I keep pastured in Bethel Island , CA.
I have taken additional
volunteer training at Wildhorse to specifically “task train” in order to assist
the disabled riders mount and then proceed through arena and trail classes. Being
a senior volunteer means being a Team Leader, making sure that the livelier of
the two horses Wildhorse uses for lessons is groomed, tacked up and
temperamentally ready for class.
I love Wildhorse, and hope to be present when
Wildhorse finds a permanent home.
Please contact Dr. Owen
for further information on my character and professionalism through the
Wildhorse web site.