I am now 19 years old. When I was eight my father had a serious motorcycle accident & has been in a coma for the past 11 years. At the time my grandmother and Mom thought it would be a good idea for me to join a 4-H group we had read about in our local newspaper. We had no idea that it was a horse group.

I joined the 4-H group and also began taking riding lessons at a farm that was just down the road from our house. I soon found myself almost living at the barn, going everyday after school and every weekend. For 6 years I learned how to ride & how to care for horses. I bonded with the magnificent animals I worked with.

I started riding a paint pony and advanced to bigger horses. One day a 16 hand bay Morgan named Hulio arrived at the barn. The first time I walked into his stall I knew that I was going to have an awesome connection with him. The following day my instructor told me that I was going to start working with him. I began by walking and brushing him and as time went on we grew together and we both advanced in our riding and training.

My instructor told me that he would never be able to jump because he had arthritis. I was determined to teach him to jump and I taught him behind my instructors back. I began doing competitions with Hulio. At a local horse show I decided to do a cross rail class along with my regular classes. I had a great ride over fences with Hulio something I always dreamed of but never thought would happen. I waited to hear the places for the jumping class as they called out names from last to first. I never expected to take first place with my Morgan that I was told would never jump but I did. I was so proud. Within a few minutes my trainer congratulated me. She also received a phone call from Hulio’s owner who wanted to speak to me. She congratulated me and said “Happy 14th birthday Hulio is your horse you deserve it”. I began crying but a happy cry it was my dream come true and I had never expected it to happen that way.

Horses were and still are a get away from my real life. If it wasn’t for the 4-H group, the barn or my horse I wouldn’t have made it through the loss of my Dad. Horses were my way of coping.

In the fall I will be attending Becker College to receive my Bachelor’s degree in equine business management. I am also doing an apprenticeship with a certified trainer so that I can get my certified trainers license. My dream is to own a huge horse farm, rescue horses and work with kids, teens & young adults that face challenges, like I did, & to rehabilitate  horses.

by Nikke Rodgers