My name is Kiki & I’m 17 years old. I am in a wheelchair without lower limbs.
I have been riding horses for about three years and have participated in four equestrian centers before riding at the Intermountain Equestrian Center. The other stables that I have rode at were somewhat accommodating. I was very appreciative that those stables let me ride at their facilities but I was allowed to do little with the horses. Some would only let me groom the horses while others
would not let me do anything but pet the horse that I was riding.
Another reason why I did not like riding at other stables was because of the way I was treated.
At one equestrian center, I was part of a pony club which I attended once a week. I learned all sorts of things about horses and also had riding lessons. A lot of the girls in the club did not want to interact with me. Some were jealous that I got more attention during riding lesson, while others thought I should not have been in the club because of my disability.
My biggest frustration with a lot of the facilities was me trying to be independent. I would let people know that I could do certain things with horses on my own. I can catch, lead and groom horses without any help. Most would say that it was too much of a liability and I would need to be supervised at all times and they would do everything while I had to sit and watch.
I was starting to lose hope until I began riding at the Intermountain Equestrian Center. I am part of a program called HSH (Horses Spirits Healing). The program is mostly for veterans to have therapeutic riding lessons, but the center made an exception for me to be in the program. It is wheelchair accessible around the center. There is even a wheelchair ramp that has a platform that is high enough so I can mount and dismount on my own. The people are very welcoming and have been instrumental in helping me improve my riding and horsemanship skills.
My trainer Amanda Ott, is a pretty awesome lady! She is very accommodating, but also gives me a certain amount of independence that is carefully monitored when it comes to riding and having different interactions with the horses. She has taught me how to pick the horse’s hooves, tack up a horse and lunge a horse and we are working on getting me ready to do my first horse show at the fair this year.
I am in the HSH program mostly to get me prepared for the equine and therapeutic program when I attend Rocky Mountain College. I am so grateful that I have found the perfect equestrian center for me. It is so exciting for me to see how far I have come. This is definitely a start of something that I have dreamt about for a long time.
Sincerely, Kiki Hargrove