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, Berkeley.

News: Sophie has graduated from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine!

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.

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.

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.

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 abilities.

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.

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 fruition!

Why I am a Wildhorse! Volunteer by Josephine House

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 State University at Chico.
Further training has included more equestrian training and riding clinics while a member of the Walnut Creek 4-H.

The most important clinic I attended was the famous Monte Foreman clinic in the 60’s, while a member of The Contra Costa County Horsemen’s Association, http://www.westernhorseman.com/index.php/featured-articles/article/338-monte-foreman.html. During this time, I was a trail guide at Buckeye Ranch, Lafeyette, California.

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.