Chico is the heartbeat that pulls it all together for Martha. She and Chico share a special, uncomplicated bond with one another. Chico is sensitive to how Martha is riding from week to week, so every footfall is carefully and deliberately placed. Chico knows that it is his job to carry Martha safely while providing her with gentle challenges that benefit her well being.
Martha Calie is severely physically challenged. She began horseback riding at the Kentucky Horse Park with Central Kentucky Riding for Hope (CKRH) ten years ago, when the most she could accomplish was to lie down along a gentle horse’s back with her head resting on his powerful hindquarters. Sitting up was not an option for her at that time. It was one of Martha’s goals to gain enough balance and strength in her trunk to someday ride sitting up.
Elevated above his modest beginnings, Chico is a black, Morgan cross gelding whose parentage and life experiences in the Amish and trail-riding worlds might belie his ultimate life’s purpose.
Inhabiting the shadows of purposefully bred, highly-regarded celebrities of the turf such as Smarty Jones, Azeri and Funny Cide, horses like Chico go unnoticed and unheralded by all but those whose lives are touched by their intuitive and humble spirits. While multi-million dollar horses bring fame and fortune to themselves and their contingents, Chico and other horses in the CKRH program persevere in relative obscurity, unassumingly reshaping the lives of people for whom daily existence is often very challenging.
Both well-trained and willing of heart, Chico and his compadres at CKRH carry out their special calling with dignity and quiet dependability. While some horses in other professions may view their hitchhikers as a burden, the therapeutic riding horses at CKRH in recognizing the limitations of their passengers bear them like precious cargo.
According to Pat Kline, Development Coordinator for CKRH, “In therapeutic riding, every client interacts with a trusted, accepting horse or pony. The horse’s strength, warmth, soothing rhythm and three-dimensional movement pattern provides healthy exercise while improving circulation and muscle tone.” She continued, “The responsibility associated with working with horses and the social interactions between peers benefit the clients physically, mentally and emotionally while raising self-confidence and increasing independence through triumphs.”
“The honesty and unconditional love of the therapy horses is proven to encourage interaction and acceptance and to provide the moments where all involved are a part of great joy” added Lauriston DaMitz, Program Director for CKRH.
Partnered with a dedicated team of volunteers, “side walkers” and a certified instructor, Chico and Martha beautifully represent the goals and accomplishments of CKRH. Over the course of time while on this path, all the many talented volunteers and horses who have shared in Martha’s therapeutic riding experience have contributed to the progress Martha has worked so hard to achieve. She has developed the strength, coordination, balance and confidence it takes for her to ride Chico sitting tall in the saddle.
Many involved with CKRH believe Chico hears in his obedient soul, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The Kentucky Horse Park provides the venue for CKRH’s life-transforming, therapeutic riding program from spring through fall. On October 30th, CKRH will host their annual Halloween Trail Ride and 7th Annual Tack Sale in the Steeplechase Barn at the Kentucky Horse Park to raise vital funds for the continuation of their exceptional work.
For more information on the Halloween Trail Ride and Tack Sale or CKRH at the Kentucky Horse Park, visit their website at www.ckrh.org or contact Pat Kline, Development Coordinator at 859-231-7066, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. The park is an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet that hosted 913,000 visitors and 80 special events and horse shows in 2003. The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington. The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.