Loading... Please wait...

Our Newsletter

2011 Program Member Highlights

Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, WA

By Patrick Patterson - Communications Director

Warm Beach Camp, Home of the Warm Beach Vaulters and So Much More!

Overlooking the Puget Sound about an hour north of Seattle, Warm Beach Christian Camps & Conference Center is home to the Warm Beach Vaulters, one of the nation’s largest vaulting clubs. Many things occur at Warm Beach Camp. The Camp serves over 80,000 people a year in a variety of church, school, and non-profit camps, conferences, and retreats.

Programs for youth, adults, and families abound with weekend retreats for men, women, couples, and horsemanship camps. Summertime brings weeklong youth camps, horsemanship camps, special needs camps, and a family camp. With many styles of lodging to choose from and recreational options ranging from swimming, horseback riding, high ropes course, climbing tower, miniature golf, tennis and more; Warm Beach Camp offers guests a well-rounded experience that fits nearly any budget.

In December, Warm Beach Camp becomes known throughout the Puget Sound as the home of The Lights of Christmas. This one-of-a-kind Christmas festival transforms fifteen acres of the main conference center into a winter wonderland of over one million lights, music, drama, children’s activities, gift shops, food and more. In 2009, 53,000 guests strolled through the light displays sampling scrumptious items such as fresh hot donuts and hot apple cider. Some even took part in an amazing six-course dinner theatre and stayed the night in one of seven uniquely decorated and themed lodging facilities.

Horses have been part of nearly all of WarmBeach Camp’s 50 year history. Starting with pony rides, trail rides, and a delightful pony wagon, guests were able to experience a touch of the countryside on horseback during the early 1960’s. In the 1970’s, the Camp decided to invest in developing instructional riding programs where campers could come for a week of camp and care for and ride a horse of their own all week. Rod Brown was hired to be the Horsemanship Director or Head Wrangler as the position was known “back in the day.” Rod developed the program to include a full summer of weeklong horsemanship camps built around Certified Horsemanship Association curriculum. Rod, clinic instructor and regional director for many years, was known for his booming voice, boundless energy and love for people.

CHA continues to provide the cornerstone for the program’s training and instructional material. Today, nearly 60 horses, including six vaulting horses, support a wide ranging program of trail rides, riding lessons, instructional camps, and of course, vaulting.

Vaulting has been part of Warm Beach Camp’s horsemanship program for over twenty years, being featured first of all as an elective during horsemanship camp. However, two or three nights a week of vaulting in the summer just wasn’t enough. With the arrival of Mark and Patti Skipton in 2006, vaulting took off and quickly became a stunningly active program of both recreational and competitive vaulters.

Soon after Patti arrived, Belgian draft horses began to be pulled out of their normal duties and trained to carry vaulters. Demonstrations were organized to entice local kids with visions of elegant dance and athletic prowess. Recreational vaulting began on a weekly basis followed by the first competition in Chilliwack, British Columbia, in 2006. Donations began streaming in from parents, friends, and business sponsors. Soon, new tack arrived and eventually, several more horses and even more tack not to mention vaulting barrels, mirrors, and exercise equipment. A classroom was converted to a vaulting gym and dedicated welders created new vaulting barrels. Last year, parents and community volunteers banded together to convert an old tie stall barn into a weight room. In a few short years, the Warm Beach Vaulters have grown from one trot team in 2006 to having three canter teams plus a trot team, in addition to recreational vaulters in 2010. The club enjoys amazing support from dedicated parents, as well as local sponsors and the parent organization, Warm Beach Camp.

Carrying such an extensive club requires some very special equine friends. Famously partial to Belgian Draft Horses, Patti Skipton has put together an amazing collection of horses. In addition to competitions around the Pacific Northwest, the Warm Beach Vaulters exhibit their sport at local and state fairs, rodeos and charity events. Exhibitions are a club favorite as the vaulters enjoy performing in front of cheering crowds where no one is scoring their moves or comparing their routines. And what vaulter does not like his/her picture taken by delighted spectators!

With the advent of Roman riding in 2010, Warm Beach Horsemanship now has another signature experience which complements the vaulting program. Roman riding provides a unique challenge for the advanced vaulters and staff while offering a showcase memory to spectators at the end of camp shows. The Vaulting program has become an entry point for many campers who now attend vaulting and horsemanship camps throughout the year. In 2010, two campers from Colombia, South America, arrived at camp having seen our advertisements on the internet. Who would have imagined such a reach back in the ‘70’s. Vaulting provides young people with amazing opportunities for personal growth, physical conditioning, life-long friendships, and travel. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the Warm Beach Vaulters is comprised of youth and young adults that, in some cases, travel more than two hours one way for practice. But there is something more. Being a Warm Beach Vaulter is about personal growth and sharing God’s love with others. Seeing young people achieve their competitive goals is certainly rewarding. Seeing them build positive character qualities, a commitment to teamwork, and a compassion for others makes vaulting an investment that touches the future.

Warm Beach Horsemanship program has evolved over the years, but has never lost the care and concern for the individual camper. Seeing young people grow into their potential en route to learning a fabulous sport is what truly motivates the staff. Using horses to illustrate good character, healthy life skills, and spiritual truths reach young people in unique and powerful ways. Experiencing the unconditional acceptance of a horse opens the hearts of young people and prepares them to relate to the unconditional love of God, something truly transformational.

For more information on Warm Beach Camp log on to http://warmbeach.com. You can also find the Warm Beach Vaulters and the Camp both on Facebook. Look us up. We’d love to become friends.


The Kentucky Horse Park – Lexington, Kentucky

By Ramona Palm-Oslin

When one thinks about Kentucky, what often comes to mind is double four-board fences, thoroughbreds grazing, and new foals prancing around their dams. It’s not surprising, because Kentucky is considered by many to be the horse capital of the world. It seems fitting, then, that Kentucky is home to a 1,200 acre Park devoted entirely to man’s relationship with the horse: the Kentucky Horse Park on Iron Works Parkway in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Horse Park is a CHA accredited facility, complete with two museums, multiple live horse exhibits, and the location of a variety of shows, events, and games throughout the year. Sheila Forbes, the Director of Adult and Professional Education at the Park, says of the Park’s relationship to CHA, “KHP is an accredited CHA facility. We have held the annual CHA conference in the past [and will again in 2011]. In addition, we host at least one instructor certification clinic each year and KHP has many CHA certified staff. CHA is also headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park in the National Horse Center.”

According to Forbes, Kentucky Horse Park is a full service show facility, offering 1,384 permanent stalls, three outdoor stadiums, three outdoor show arenas, five dressage arenas, a covered arena, an indoor coliseum arena, seven warm-up arenas, a cross-country/marathon course, four polo fields, a steeplechase course and a trade fair area. Rolex, a CCI**** event is held at the Park annually during the first weekend in April. Other shows and competitions held annually there include the High Hope Steeplechase, the Egyptian Arabian Event, the Kentucky Fall Classic Arabian Show, Breyerfest, and the USEF Open Reining Championships. Most recently, the Park hosted the 2010 World Equestrian Games. The Park also includes a campground.

The Horse Park is part of the estate of Virginia Governor Patrick Henry’s brother-in-law, who received the land as a reward for service in the French and Indian War in 1777. Various horsemen have owned the land since, raising and breeding thoroughbreds, saddlebreds, and trotting horses. Eventually, the Park was sold at auction to Captain Sam S. Brown, who turned it into a thoroughbred breeding operation, known as Seniorita Stud Farm. Upon Brown’s death, Seniorita was bought at auction by Lamon V. Harkness. Harkness built the Big Barn, still standing at the Horse Park today. Upon Harkness’ death, he left the land to his daughter, who left it to her daughter and daughter-in-law. Her daughter-in-law, Mary Edwards, received the section which later became the Horse Park in 1947. She sold the land to the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1972 for $2.7 million.

“There are not many places in the world where the government would invest millions for a facility dedicated to one animal. In Kentucky, the conception and construction of such a facility has been deemed appropriate. Such is the attitude of Kentuckians towards the horse,” says Forbes. The Kentucky Horse Park includes a number of opportunities for education about horses no matter what your experience level, including the showing of “Thou Shall Fly Without Wings,” an informative film about man’s relationship with the horse. There are also other observational and hands on opportunities for Park visitors and for horsemen and potential horsemen exploring an equine related career.

Opportunities for Park visitors include the Parade of Breeds, horse drawn tours, Hall of Champions, and various bronze statues commemorating history’s great horses. The Parade of Breeds is a half hour presentation of several of the 24 horses representing their breeds being put through their paces, tacked in traditional gear and handlers in traditional costume. Horse drawn tours feature some of the Park’s draft horses and visitors can meet them as they are being prepared for the day or put up for the night. The Horse Park boasts the world’s only 5 breed draft horse pulling team. The Hall of Champions showcases some of the world’s most accomplished racing thoroughbreds and standardbreds, as well as saddlebred show horses. The bronze statues include Bask++, Bret Hanover, Bruce Davidson Riding Eagle Lion, Man O’War, Roxie Highland, Secretariat, Supreme Sultan, The Phoenix, and The Spirit of the American Morgan. The Park is also the final resting place of some of these horses, among other phenomenal horses, including Man O’ War’s son, War Admiral.

Educational opportunities include adult and youth balanced seat riding lessons, horsemanship clinics, Introduction to Single Driving, Introduction to Pair Driving, Insights into Training the Horse to Drive, driving the draft horse, the Mare and Foal show, the Women and Horses Seminar, and even a Professional Horseman’s Course. The Park also offers education for boy and girl scouts, as well as Camp Horse (an essay competition for schoolchildren where the winner gets a chance to learn about horses from Park staff) and Mustang Troop, which pairs Bureau of Land Management mustangs with inner city youth.

Kathy Hopkins, the Park’s Director of Equine Operations and Education, says that “Our relationship and endorsement of CHA and its many programs and ideals has been critical in assisting us with meeting the goal to present to the visiting public an enjoyable learning experience representing the highest levels of horsemanship and professionalism. Whether it is a draft horse pulling a trolley, a reining demonstration in our Parade of Breeds, or a “hands on” children’s activity in our “Kid’s Zone,” we want our guests to leave with an appreciation of the horse and an understanding of safe equine practices. The participation of KHP and our employees in the CHA accreditation and CHA certification process has created an increased awareness in the importance of emphasizing safety when around the animals we love – the horse.”

About the Author: Ramona Palm-Oslin is an equine business major graduating from Midway College in May. She has a 13-year old showmanship quarter horse mare and has shown Western IHSA up to the advanced level. She rides horsemanship, reining, and pleasure type horses.


Great Horses of America in Menifee, California

Photos and Article By Danny Kackert

Centrally located at Menifee Meadows Equestrian Center in Menifee, California, Great Horses of America offers a 960 acre, gated, private, fenced facility and trail system on site. In addition, Great Horses offers full-service boarding, professional training and a nationally recognized consignment horse sale barn. They are proud to be a CHA Program Member and host site for CHA Standard and Equine Facility Manager Clinics.

Looking for a horse stable that has it all? Within 5 minutes of freeway access? Quiet and in the ‘country’? In Southern California! Great Horses of America is it! A wonderful family environment, complete with 60 plus horses and room for more, ¼ ac. and ½ ac. paddocks, regular and oversized corrals, 2 and 3 ac. pasture boarding (including layup and retirement), lighted box stalls, lighted outdoor arena, ½ acre turnouts, dressage, jumping and pony arenas, large loping and standard round pens, heated foaling barn, U.S. Pony Club Riding Center, mini cross country jumping field, 2 acres of confidence building obstacles (for horse and/or rider), miles of driving trails and camping available. Believe it or not, Great Horses of America has it all onsite.

The facility is run by the Kackert family. Teresa Kackert, CHA Clinic Staff for over 10 years is the owner of Great Horses of America and founder of her own ‘Soft Touch’ Horsemanship program. Over the years, Teresa has also become one of the most qualified and recognized trainers in Southern California. Recently achieving the EFM ACI recommendation in addition to years as a Standard CI she has also received: the AQHA Professional Horseman designation; Chris Irwin’s Natural Horsemanship ‘Double Gold’; Richard Shrake’s Resistance Free ‘Master’ level. With over 20 years of professional riding, instructing and training experience her credentials speak volumes.

Teresa’s ‘Soft Touch’ Horsemanship program successfully merges classical equitation fundamentals with natural horsemanship techniques. The result is an amazingly talented and willing equine partner best described by her motto: “Soft start to soft finish, your horse will know the difference”. There is no substitute for the successful, age-old and proven methods of classical training. Additionally, some of the younger, very effective techniques of natural horsemanship training which have focused more on the ‘natural, instinctive communication and relationship between horse and rider have also proven their value in the training process. Teresa has successfully combined the best parts of both and now offers the resulting program to the horses and riders in her care.

Great Horses of America’s training programs and scheduled clinics include something for everyone: starting or re-starting young and older horses, confidence building for horse and rider, trail starting and finishing, Hunter/Jumper starting, re-starting, finishing, problem solving, urban environment desensitization, behavior modification on the ground or under saddle, skill enhancement for both horse and rider, softening, suppling and team building for the horse and rider and much more. Programs are designed and customized specifically for the individual needs, history and skills of each horse or rider. Lessons offered can be private or group; clinics can be offsite at your location or onsite at Great Horses of America and as short as half a day; evaluations, training programs or tune-ups are offered on a daily, weekly and monthly basis depending on the individual case.

One of the key elements in Great Horses of America’s program has always been the CHA Composite Horsemanship Manual …a must buy for all students! Truth be told, Teresa was given an old CHA manual by a mentor over 25 years ago. Like other highly motivated and horse crazed young girls, she read it from cover to cover, studied and learned every lesson on every page and then…boxed it up and stored it away…for years! She later re-discovered that manual while unpacking and reorganizing. Almost immediately, it became the critical item needed to jump-start the revival of her lesson school and subsequently the beginning of her professional career. Now, 20 years later, the rest is history…and she still not only uses the manual, but has passed it on to the next generation…her 9, 7, 5 and 4 year old children!

In response to the ever changing equine industry, Teresa founded her consignment horse sales company ‘Great Horses of America’ which now boasts an unmatched 90 day average for sold horses, many in far less time than that. In fact, in June 2011 she broke her all time quick sale record of 18 days with a 6 day sale in the amount of $6,000! As an experienced horsewoman and professional rider, Teresa can successfully tune-up and represent horses of all breeds in all disciplines at all price levels ($5,000 to $50,000): Western, English, Hunter/Jumper, gaited or other. With approximately 50 consignment horse sales per year, earning over $350,000 annually for her clients, Teresa has the unique ability to bring out the best in any horse she works with. With an ever changing economy and horse market, she is now seeing more Friesians, Andalusians, and both European and Canadian Warmbloods entering her program. Her adage “ ‘Great Horses’ will always sell” has held true over the years.

Lastly, in an effort to give back to the community, several years ago The Kackert family founded their own 501(c)3 non-profit corporation named Pink Heart Pony Kids, Inc. This organization seeks out and provides a horse or pony experience to children and families in need. Founded originally in response to a personal medical crisis, Teresa and her family have touched the lives of over 1,000 families in Southern California. The non-profit serves organizations like the San Diego Ronald McDonald House, El Cajon Literacy First, Riverside Foster Family Program and other local churches, schools and groups. Pink Heart Pony Kids mission is to ‘put a smile on the face of every person with the help of horses and ponies’! Whether it’s giving pony rides or just letting a youngster touch or brush a pony for the first time, the result can be very rewarding. Pink Heart Pony Kids, Inc. graciously accepts donations and provides its service free of charge to qualifying organizations.

To contact Great Horses of America or Teresa Kackert please visit www.GreatHorses.org, email GreatHorses@msn.com or call (619) 572-3087.


High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. – Old Lyme, Connecticut

By Kitty Stalsburg

Nearly 40 years ago a woman of vision, Sis Gould and a small group of friends, founded LCVERA (Lower Connecticut Valley Educational Riding Association), a nomadic therapeutic riding program which traveled to various borrowed barns with horses and equipment for an hour or two at a time to give children with learning challenges an opportunity to experience horseback riding. Throughout the years, this small idea grew and blossomed into what is now known as High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.

High Hopes is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities through the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding and other equine assisted activities, while serving the therapeutic riding profession through training and education. A PATH International Premier Accredited center and a CHA Program Member, High Hopes is located in Old Lyme, CT. Annually we serve over 1,500 individuals with physical, psychological and cognitive disabilities through a myriad of equine assisted activities and therapies. Participants come from all over the state and include school groups, referrals from medical professionals, group homes, social service agencies and individuals. Services include weekly therapeutic riding sessions, unmounted equine learning programs, carriage driving, integrated summer camp, specialty immersion programs for children with autism and an unique summer program emphasizing educational and social skills development.

High Hopes operates year round with both an indoor and outdoor arena on the 120 acre property. In addition to the two arenas, there is also an extensive trail system specially designed to maximize the sensory experience for each participant. This sensory trail includes different activities to involve riders and encourage the development of various skills. For instance, navigating the Railroad Crossing encourages a wide range of skills: reaching, pulling, use of verbal commands, safety awareness and half seat while being a fun experience for the riders.

The herd of 27 horses and ponies are diverse in size, shape and talent in order to effectively serve the many various participants. While each member of the herd contributes unique talents, there are a few special members who stand out. Petra, a 16-year-old, 14 hand Norwegian Fjord has been with the program for over 10 years. Her patient kindness and consistent movement, make her an ideal match for some of the 21% of the riders who are on the autism spectrum while Latino, a 16.2 hand Shire Cross who previously fox hunted is a terrific larger horse who is perfect for many of our adult riders. 

Since 1995, High Hopes has trained over 200 individuals through its instructor training programs. Internationally instructor candidates have come from all over the world including South Korea, Croatia, Japan, Israel, Ireland, Belgium, Panama and Mexico. Current plans include expansion to Distance Education as well as training programs to develop Therapeutic Riding Management professionals such as Program Directors and Volunteer Managers.

The staff of 23 consists of both full and part time positions. In addition to therapeutic riding instructors, other professionals such as Licensed Counselors, and therapists, Physical, Occupational, Speech and Expressive Arts all help to contribute expertise vital to ensuring that each individual has resources specific to his or her need. The dynamic team approach for each lesson enhances quality and improves the outcomes.

As a nonprofit, funding is primarily through contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations and benefit events. Seventy percent of the actual cost of each lesson is subsidized and participants may request additional financial assistance. Volunteers play a key role in the daily operations at High Hopes. Last year, over 36,000 volunteer hours were recorded helping in horse handling, sidewalker, direct feed and care of the horses as well as in committee work and help with our various fundraising events.

High Hopes is place of unconditional acceptance where horses, participants, volunteers and staff work together in a cooperative environment to change lives. Each part of the team is impacted by the nature of the activity. It is a place where people come together to share, laugh, play, learn and grow. For more information about our programs please visit the website at www.highhopestr.org or contact us at 860-434-1974.