Therapy riding opens doors for local fair participant

Chad Karnes began his journey of riding horses when he was seven years old. Carolyn Karnes, Chad’s mother, shared that he began riding at Vail Meadows Equestrian Center in Oregon, OH, as therapy for Asperger’s Syndrome and was a natural from the start. Chad has no tension when he rides and describes it like sitting in a rocking chair. Since then, the family has moved to Ottawa County and Chad now works with Suzanne Miller, trainer at Lemon Tree Stables in Oak Harbor.

Chad often rides his bike down to the stables to train with his horse, Dixie, who is leased from the Heiks family. Besides riding, Chad maintains his horse which includes safety precautions, personal care, doing chiropractic stretches to Dixie’s neck and upkeep of the stall. Carolyn shared that Chad is at his happiest when he is at the stables. Part of that happiness comes from Chad’s interrelation with his horse as well as the other horses at the stables. He is able to observe many of the horses’ habits and behaviors, such as knowing if they are having a bad day, a stomach ache or the fact that they prefer to not be alone in the pasture. As for Dixie, Chad shared that she is the largest horse at the stable and is 12 years old. Trainer Suzanne Miller added that Dixie is a gentle horse with a smooth ride and beautiful markings that make her quite the supermodel of horses.

Lemon Tree Stables offers Chad year round training as they have an inside riding arena. Chad has learned such skills as riding without a saddle to increase his balance, dropping sticks into a bucket and maneuverability. His expertise has allowed him to ride Dixie both inside and outside the fenced-in area.   

After almost a year with Dixie, Chad, who is a member of the Making Strides 4-H Club, has decided to take her to the upcoming Ottawa County Fair, which runs from July 15-21. As a first year competitor, Chad will be competing in both Showmanship and the Walk and Trot competitions. Carolyn shared that Chad is currently riding three evenings a week to prepare for the fair. It is only through the generosity of the Heiks family that Chad is able to take Dixie to the fair, and Carolyn expresses her gratitude to them.

The skills Chad has acquired during his time at the stables has prepared him for his new summer job at African Lion Safari. If you’re at the fair, stop by and say hi to Chad and Dixie.

If you would like more information on riding lessons, boarding, and horse rescues, contact Suzanne at Lemon Tree Stables at 419-262-4693. For more information about Asperger’s Syndrome or any other disability, contact the Ottawa County Board of DD at 1-800-755-4440, stop by their booth at the fair or like them on Facebook.

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