It’s amazing what you find out when everyone is gathered in the booth selecting their clothing for the next show season. The Scottsdale Show provided a glimpse into the life of the Boylan family – Colleen, Annie, Vicki and Aunt Nikki. They not only show horses, but they are a family that shows the world the grace kindness and therapeutic nature of the Arabian horse, putting their retired show horses back in the ring for a totally different job – therapeutic riding.
HORSES HELPING OTHERS TO FLY – HOOF BY HOOF
Wings and Hooves Therapeutic Riding, Inc., a young nonprofit in East Kingtson, NH, aims to enhance the lives of individuals with physical, emotional and developmental challenges by building confidence through equine- assisted activities and partnerships. Wings and Hooves assists with therapeutic riding, providing the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) certified instructors at no cost to the participants and their families.
Wings and Hooves relies on the kind generosity of enthusiastic volunteers and donors. Founded by Karen Cunea, a former competitor on the Arabian Horse Association show circuit, Wings and Hooves is the result of Cuneo’s lifetime medical battle with lupus and a desire to give back tho the community. The time spent with her horses and the “magic” they provided, gave Cuneo the inspiration to start Wings and Hooves.
Wings and Hooves is not only a safe and fun alternative therapy for individuals with a variety of challenges, it’s a place where very experienced and talented horses receive a second chance. The program uses retired show horses as the program’s therapeutic mounts, noting a renewed sense of self-worth and energy among the horses working for the program. The majority of the employed equines are former Arabian and Half-Arabian superstars, including purebred English Pleasure multi-champion, Mr. Wise Guy, and Youth National Reserve Champion Half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure, Memory Maker. The “retired” horses are not only given a new job after their impressive careers come to an end, but they are also involved in re-connecting with new riders. The horses’ new responsibilities are lofty, but the gifted animals embrace their new jobs enthusiastically and seriously.
Many of the volunteers and individuals responsible for Wings and Hooves’ development are currently involved in the Arabian horse community. Aside from Karen, who teaches many of the lessons and oversees the volunteer lesson instructors, Karen’s daughter, Kristen Cuneo, is integral in assisting with the lessons and volunteer training. Kristen is no stranger to the Arabian horse show circuit and enters her amateur career this year with many regional and national honors.
Colleen Boylan, wings and Hooves’ Executive Director is excited to be part of the program and looks forward to its future, as well as the opportunity to showcase the versatility of the Arabian horse. Riding since age 7, her first horse Napolia, holds a special place in her heart. She says, “there are no other men in my life who can compare to my Half-Arabian gelding, Johnny Rocket.” She confesses to hiding her jeans under her bed after riding lessons when she first started, just so her mother couldn’t wash the horse smell off of them. Now, she works for Wings and Hooves with an office “in the barn where I get to smell like a horse every day.” After the 2009 U.S. Nationals, Colleen was wearing roses to the barn for her win in Half-Arabian Amateur Park. She is no stranger to the winner’s circle, having captured 2 Canadian Reserve Championships and multiple Top Tens.
Colleen’s sister, Annie Boylan, also an active AHA competitor, volunteers and recruits for the therapeutic program. She began riding at 4 just to keep up with big sister Colleen. Besides her achievements in the ring, Annie plays Division 1 lacrosse at the college of the Holy Cross. She has an equally impressive show record starting with Reserve Champion Hunter Pleasure 13 and under and Canadian National Champion Hunter Pleasure 14-17, along with multiple top Tens in Park, Costume and Equitation.
Mother Vicki Boylan, assists with volunteer training and special event planning for Wings and Hooves. Speaking of her daughters great riding accomplishments, Vickie continues, “Of course, part of their success is in their clothes. If you look god, you do well with the confidence it gives you. I have Melissa and Patti to thank for that. People stop me in the aisles and in the show rings to ask where I dress my girls and I can’t tell them how many times Annie was stopped at Canadian Nationals so people could admire her brown tux. I tell them Show Season … where else!
PO Box 336, East Kingston, NH 03827
Phone (603) 642-3722 – Fax (603) 642-3707 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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