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Kari Ann Owen, From Student to Teacher, Disabled Equestrian Lives Her Dream
by Jessica Colvin

Jocelyne, Kari Ann Owen

Kari Ann Owen has overcome many obstacles in her life. A sciatic nerve injury leaves Kari Ann with a limited ability to walk. Previously, she was breifly confined to a wheelchair. Through weight loss, intense spiritual healing, and therapeutic horseback riding, Kari Ann has come a long way.

Nothing has strengthened her back as much as horseback riding. Now she can walk without pain most of the time. She only uses her service dog, Boo Boo Bear, to navigate stairs or climb steep hills.

Kari Ann’s journey started when she met Jocelyne, a 20- year-old Icelandic mare with a big heart and sure step. Jocelyne was giving therapeutic riding lessons in Redding under Vicki Donovan. Kari Ann progressed in her therapeutic riding enough to make the transition from student to teacher. She purchased Jocelyne and brought her to the Double E Rainbow ranch in Sunol.

Jocelyne, Kari Ann Owen and Boo Boo Bear
Horses have been an integral part of Kari Ann’s life, and she wants to share that with others. Overcoming obesity, childhood trauma, and physical limitations has made Kari Ann very sympathetic to the plight of handicapped, special needs children, and to trauma survivors. She is eager to share her positive, uplifting horse experience and knowledge. She contacted the United Methodist Church volunteer program as a volenteer teacher of therapeutic riding for trauma survivors, handicapped children, and children who have been separated from their parents. She is working diligently to pass the exam that will make her a certified therapeutic riding instructor.

With the help of her guide dog, Boo Boo Bear, and everfaithful Jocelyne, Kari Ann has her lesson plan ready to go. Her articulate nature and slow, deliberate pace will be beneficial for her beginning students. Kari Ann is a big advocate of Centered Riding, and uses many techniques in her lesson. To get the concept of centered breathing from the diaphram across to her students, Kari Ann has them practice “Boo Boo Breaths.” Boo Boo Bear, the guide dog, breathes deeply from his diaphram, not shallowly from his lungs. His breaths are so deep they can be heard. If a hand is placed on Boo Boo’s chest they can be easily felt. Breathing like Boo Boo helps relax a young rider, and a relaxed rider can attain a better, balanced seat.

Sometimes in the rush of a “high performance” horse world, the first steps can be forgotton. The first steps, the truely miraculous action of taking a deep breath, overcoming fear and past hurts, and swinging a leg over the back of a live animal is not a step to be taken lightly. This is so especially necessary for the handicapped and those suffering from trauma

Partnership in the arena

It is the all important first connection between horse and rider that sets the tone, the foundation of future rides, confidence and trust building. Who better to understand this than Kari Ann, who has experienced the seemingly magical healing powers of riding a willing and gentle horse? To learn more contact Kari Ann at (510) 794-5898 or visit her website at

courtesy of Jessica Colvin and the Gallopin' Gazette

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