2009 News & Events

  • Team HOPE Update: Meredith Murray & Shiners Romeo 2008 AQHA High Point Trail (Jan. 23, 2009)

We just received the news today that Meredith Murray and her horse Shiners Romeo are the End of Year AQHA High Point Horse and Rider in the Equestrians with Disabilities (EWD) division!   Meredith began riding with HOH in 1998 when she was seven years old.  She was on the very first show team we ever took to a show many years ago and then she took a brief hiatus from riding to finish high school.  Meredith is a freshman at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin and began showing again last summer with the newest addition to our horse family, Shiners Romeo (Romeo). 


Romeo was donated to our center by Marcia Gillespie from Oklahoma.  Romeo is a retired reining horse who quickly learned to like the work at Horses of Hope.  His job at Horses of Hope is relatively easy compared to the hard, fast work of a competitive reining horse.   Winning these awards means that we get to take a trip to San Antonio, TX for the AQHA Awards Banquet in March to see Meredith accept her award and for us to accept Romeo's award on his behalf :-) 


Other members from last year’s show team received end of year awards from the Ozark Quarter Association Sarah Smittle, Jessie Naaykens, Meredith Murray, Kevin Feather and Forrest Terry all received beautiful "AQHA Champion" buckles at the awards banquet on January 10.  Sarah was also the Year End High Point Rider in the EWD division with the Kansas Quarter Horse Association


Other exciting news that happened today is the arrival of a new member to our show team.  Teddy, a ten year AQHA gelding was donated by Shannon Justice as a possible new horse for Kevin to begin showing this year.   Kevin went with Shelly and me today to bring Teddy back to the barn with us.  Kevin is very excited that he will possibly begin showing Teddy this spring.  Teddy must first "Pass the Test", so to speak, to see if he is a suitable horse for Kevin, but after I rode him today, I feel pretty positive that he will work out just fine. 

  Check back to see pictures and to hear about our trip to San Antonio in March.



  • San Antonia Trip & AQHA Awards Banquet (March 2009)

Saturday March 7, was our date to travel to San Antonio, Texas with Meredith Murray to receive her (and Shiners Romeo) awards for being the High Point Trail Rider and High Point Trail Horse in the Equestrians With Disabilities classes at the American Quarter Horse Association's Year End Banquet and Convention.  Making the trip were Meredith, her mother Lyter Isenman, Shelly McColm, Mycah McColm and myself (Vallerie :-). 

If you have never attended this banquet, I have to explain that it is the horse world's version of the Academy Awards!  Everyone is dressed in formal attire, a wonderful meal is served and all of the "Who's Who" of the Quarter Horse World are in attendance.  We had the pleasure of being seated at a front row table with the young lady who was the All Around Youth for 2008 and her lovely family.   Meredith made the trip on stage to receive her award and also Romeo's award.  Everyone at the banquet is was very supportive of the EWD program.  Countless times over the course of our two days in San Antonio, strangers would come up to Meredith and shake her hand and tell her congratulations! 

We didn't just sit at our hotel during our whirlwind trip to Texas.  We ate at a fabulous Mexican restaurant on the river’s edge, Casa Rio, where Meredith was serenaded by a Mariachi with a lively fun celebration song!  We also toured the Alamo.  This happened to be the anniversary weekend of the Alamo and there were re-enactors and lots of activity.  

We also spent a lot of time planning for this year's Team Hope Adventures, knowing that all of the show team is eager to hit the show road again.  If you would like to show your support for Team Hope, you can attend one of our shows to cheer us on, or check out the links tab on our website and look at the Horse Hair Pottery that is sold to support the team’s efforts. 


  • 2009 Benefit for Hope Auction - Buffalo, MO

The 1st Annual Benefit for HOPE Auction was held on Saturday, April 25, 2009 at Horses of Hope - Missouri, Inc.  Many area businesses including many Branson businesses donated items to the auction.  A total of over 30 items were auctioned, including many gift baskets.  (See Attachment at bottom of page for list of all donors and business sponsors)


Mr. Ken Hostetler, father of Charles, a HOH rider, was our auctioneer.  Mr. Eldon Shrock, father of Ronnie, a HOH rider as our announcer.  Thanks to both men, to the auction committee members and the many others who volunteered their time to make the auction such a huge success.  To donate items to the 2010 auction, please call 417-345-5210.  (See attachment at bottom)


  • KS Frisbee Golf Fundraiser Big Success (May, 2009)

On May 2, at the Baxter Springs barn, we held our 2nd annual Frisbee Golf

Fundraiser.  The weather was wet, but that did not keep us from having a

great time!  We set the Frisbee golf course up in the indoor arena and

played on despite the dreary weather.  There were 20 participants in this year’s event and together they raised nearly $3,000!!  Our big winners for the day were:  Most Money Raised, John Becker; Best Score, Jerry Clawson and Erin Cornman; Hole In One, Georgia Becker.  There were drawings for door prizes and we enjoyed a fun lunch together.  We appreciate everyone who participated and for all of our wonderful volunteers who took time from their busy lives to help us our on a Saturday afternoon.    


  • World Champions! (Aug 2009)

The Horses of Hope Show Team has been burning up I-44 from here to Tulsa this summer!  So far we have attended the Palomino World Championship Show on July 22 and the American Buckskin Registry World Championship Show on August 1.  Both of these associations offer classes for equestrians with disabilities and we are appreciative of their efforts to be inclusive and welcoming to our riders. 


     At the PHBA World Show we took 2 competitors.  My step-son Grant Oehme competed in the Un-Assisted Challenged Horseman Class.  In this class the rider must ride independently, but be attended by 1 side walker.  Grant rode Sawyer in this class of 10 riders and they were magnificent!  I have known for many years the value of appropriate competition for our riders, but until you can experience firsthand the benefits for one of your own family members, can one truly understand its value.  Grant was named a World Champion, receiving a championship trophy, neck ribbon and several other fabulous gifts.  Grant was so proud of himself he must be at least 6 inches taller now. He has now declared himself "The King of Pittsburg" so next time you see him you might need to bow!   


     Jessie Naayken's competed in the first ever Independent Horsemanship and Trail classes to ever be offered for Challenged Riders at the Palomino World.  Jessie rode our own (somewhat famous) Shiners Romeo in these two events that each had 7 competitors.  Jessie and Romeo performed a magnificent Horsemanship pattern and they were named the FIRST EVER Challenged Rider Horsemanship World Champions!  What an exciting moment for Jessie and all of us as she received her trophy and awards.   


     On August 1st, we traveled back to Tulsa for the ABRA World Championship Show.  The trip to Tulsa that day was a bit hectic with road construction on I-44 that delayed and detoured us.  We arrived at the show ground with just enough time to jump the horses out of the trailer, put their saddles and riders on and go show!  WHEW!  Tony Wagoner and Tracey Grube rode in the Independent Walk class with 7 other riders.  These two riders (and their horses) handled our whirlwind entrance gracefully.  Tony, riding Sawyer, placed 4th in this class.  Tracey and Chip walked away from this class as Reserve World Champions!  I wish we had a video of Tracey when she received her belt buckle!  She was so proud and excited it was a precious moment!  Jessie Naaykens then rode Chip in the Independent Walk/Trot class and.....Jessie Won ANOTHER World Championship! I am so proud of all of our riders and horses.  Everyone handled themselves with such decorum and were fine examples of good sportsmanship!  


     We will return to Tulsa...again....for the National Snaffle Bit Association's Championship Show on August 22.  There will be several opportunities for our show team to compete.  We will even be trying our hand at a couple of new classes that we have not had an opportunity to try.  


  • Hailey Johnson

Horses of Hope has lost one of our sweetest and brightest little ones this summer.   Our hearts and prayers go out to Hailey's family.  She is missed by all of us.

Hailey Richelle Johnson, 11 years old, of Joplin, Mo., passed away Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009, at home.

Hailey was born Nov. 16, 1997, to Andy and Angie Johnson, of Joplin. She attended the sixth grade at South Middle School and enjoyed riding horses. She had Cerebral Palsy and was unable to verbally communicate. But, she lit up the room with her smile and contagious laugh. She will be deeply missed by all those who knew her.

Additional survivors include her siblings, Miranda, Dillon and Devon Johnson, of the home; and grandparents, Johnny and Rexine Johnson, of Granby, and Eddie and Allene Roach, of Joplin.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Greenwood Baptist Church, Joplin. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Parker Mortuary.

Donations may be made to Horses of Hope Riding Center in Baxter Springs, Kan.


  • Horses of Hope - Missouri offers "Intro to Hippotherapy" Seminar for therapists

Horses of Hope-Missouri Inc., Buffalo, MO will be hosting "Introduction to Hippotherapy" seminar Saturday October 24, 2009.  This one day seminar will describe Hippotherapy, its techniques and uses as well as offer hands on training working with actual patients currently involved in Hippotherapy as a part of their physical, occupational or speech therapy treatment.   This course is designed for PT's, OT's, PTA's, COTA's and Speech and Language Pathologist.  Others who are interested in attending are welcome.  For more complete information, registration and information about CEU's please contact Melinda at 417-345-5210. 

  • Fall Fun Day At the Farm in Baxter Springs, KS

  Be sure to visit Horses of Hope Riding Center, Inc. in Baxter Springs, KS for our "Fall Fun Day on the Farm" on Tuesday, October 27 10:00 a.m. til 3:00 p.m. (a "come and go" event)

Let our staff give your agency and clients the opportunity to experience a "Fall Fun Day on the Farm" and enjoy ......

*Meeting the staff and learn more about the value of therapeutic riding and how "Horses Bring Hope to All Riders"

*Meet and greet the many horses

*Pumpkin Pickin'

*Wagon Rides

*Great Snacks

*Face Painting 

*Live Music

Fee:  $5.00 per client (staff members attend at no charge)

Please contact us for more information:  (620)674-3458 or valleriesweeton@gmail.com  


  • Show Season Has Come to An End (Oct 2009)

With our trip on Oct. 1 - 4, Show Team Hope brought the season to a fun and successful end by attending the Hope in the Heartland Fall Futurity in Wichita, KS.  Team members, Sarah, Forrest and Jessie attended along with our favorite Southern Belle, Jennifer Richter!  A great time was had by all and we want to extend a special Thank You to Valerie and Katy Reese for creating such a wonderful "Hospitality Stall" for all of us to enjoy.  With movies, snacks and activities this special space helped us to pass the time at the show.   As always, the other competitors at the show are very supportive of our classes and we were happy to ride with Katy again as well as make a new friend, Brad, who rode in the EWD events.   The Kansas Quarter Horse Association designates this show as a fundraiser to support therapeutic riding programs in the state.  On Friday night a great meal was sponsored by Nancy Murfin Moxley and Mrs. Betty Murfin for all of the attendees.  There was a live as well as a silent auction to raise funds which was generously supported by all who attended.

Jessie and Forrest were the big winners, each walking away with new trophy belt buckles and fond memories of the weekend.  

Thank You Kansas Quarter Horse Association and Sandy Bryant-Parker, show manager and KQHA secretary, for supporting not only the EWD events but therapeutic riding in the state of Kansas as well! 


  • NARHA National Meeting in Ft. Worth, TX / Adult Independent Equestrian of the Year!! (Nov 2009)

Horses of Hope staff are excited that we will be attending the 2009 NARHA National Meeting "Blazing the Trail for 40 Years" in Ft Worth, Texas November 19-20.  We will be presenting 2 different sessions at this meeting, ”The Belly Button Theory" and "The Trail to Competition". 


We will be excited to see old friends and make new ones at this event.  The other Really Big news from this trip is that our own Sarah Smittle was chosen as the Adult Independent Equestrian of the Year!  Sarah and her family will be joining us on Saturday night for the awards banquet where she will be recognized and presented an award for this amazing accomplishment!


  • Country Christmas Dinner Theater "Fear Not Factor" (Dec 2009)

 Horses of Hope Riding Center Inc. Annual Fundraiser Join us for the Country Christmas Dinner Theatre production of:


The mission is clear–the time is now! Get set for the most spectacular and celestial adventure of all time as Mary, Joseph, and a few simple shepherds in Bethlehem encounter the wonder of the Fear Not Factor! The most epic event of all time has been established and all of heaven's angels are gearing up to fulfill what has been planned. Under the command of Archangel Michael, the Heavenly Army has been commissioned to wing flight to earth and unveil God's most unexpected, miraculous and perfect plan. However, only one angel, the anxious and thrilled Gabriel, has been selected to make the actual announcement of the “Fear Not Factor” to a few choice people. Your family and friends will celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm and spirit like never before as they find themselves in the middle of what has the halls of heaven all a-buzz! Created by Dennis and Nan Allen, developers of the best-selling children's musicals, The First Leon and It All Happened In the Country, this fun-filled and inspirational 35-minute Christmas celebration for kids will be the highlight of your holiday season! After all, there's never been another night like the one that heaven and earth collided, as the Fear Not Factor pierced the starlit skies!

December 4, 5, 11 & 12, 2009

The dinner theatre is held in the heated arena at Horses of Hope Riding Center 6968 SE 20th Street, Baxter Springs, KS 66713 Social hour: 5:30 PM with live music from the Duling Band, homemade cookies & hot apple cider while you begin bidding at our silent auction.  

Country Christmas Dinner: 6:30 PM, followed by a live auction & this year’s production,

FEAR NOT F A C T O R”.  Tickets are $30 per person-OR- Buy a table of 8 for only $195.Reserve your tickets today! Call 620-674-3458 • e-mail hoh@ckt.net or mail your check, VISA or Master Card & reservation information to: Horses of Hope Riding Center, Inc  6968 SE 20th Street  Baxter Springs, KS 66713


  • Horses of Hope has a Facebook page (Oct 2009)

Horses of Hope now has a page on Facebook. Please log on and become a Fan! You can post your own comments about HOH and keep track of the upcoming events and happenings around our barns.

 We are gearing up to kick off an exciting new event that will require us to reach as many people as possible, so become a fan and ask all of your Facebook friends to become fans too!


  • NARHA Meeting a Great Success (Nov 2009)

 Sarah and VallerieSarah and VallerieLast week Shelly, Melinda, Mycah, Steve and I attended the 2009 NARHA National Meeting and Convention in Ft Worth, TX.  It was a great, fun filled trip.  We enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones.  Both presentations were well received.  The Belly Button Theory (tm) will soon be posted here so that the information can be available to all.  We were also pleased to have so much interest in the "Trail to Competition" and to learn that many other centers are working towards bringing riders to AQHA's Equestrians with Disabilities Classes. 

   The highlight of the entire trip was watching Sarah Smittle receive the Adult Independent Equestrian of the Year Award.  Sarah looked radiant in her beautiful dress and she made all of us so proud of her as she walked onto the stage (independently! of course!) to be recognized.  What a well deserved honor!

  • Country Christmas Dinner Theater - It's a Wrap! (Dec. 2009)

This evening marks the official end of the 2009 Country Christmas Dinner Theater and it was a great success.  We were fortunate to be asked to give two special performances of "The Fear Not Factor".  The first was at the House of Prayer in Riverton, KS.  Last year Pastor Audie Tash invited us to come and share our play with the church and we were honored to return again this year.  The families at House of Prayer are warm and welcoming and it is a comfort to know that they pray for Horses of Hope, our riders, staff and volunteers. 

     This year we were invited by Pam Roller, aunt to rider Kevin Feather, to bring the play to Purdy, MO.  Pam is a dynamo in high heels let me tell you!  She put together a fabulous meal, silent and live auction and made all the arrangements for us to bring our traveling troop to the high school in Purdy to perform "The Fear Not Factor" with all proceeds going to Horses of Hope.  We are so happy to have met so many new folks who supported this first time event.  It was a touching afternoon when Pam, Kevin and their family shared Kevin's story of recovery from a car accident and how Horses of Hope played a role in that recovery. 

     We are all (happily) worn out and ready to slow down....for a little bit....and share the Christmas Season with our own families.  But...we are happy that we get to start our Christmas Celebration with all of you who attended the Country Christmas Dinner Theater.   Thanks for another outstanding year!


2009 Benefit Auction Donor List.pdf122.6 KB
Benefit for Hope Auction 2009.pdf459.64 KB