Chad Karnes began his journey of riding horses when he was just 7 years old.
Carolyn Karnes, Chad’s mother, shared that he began riding at Vail Meadows Equestrian Center as therapy for Asperger’s Syndrome and was a natural from the start. Chad had no tension when he rode and described 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, now a teen, 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.
Chad is at his happiest when he is at the stables, his mom says. Part of that happiness comes from his relationship 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,” she said.
Dixie, who is 12-years-old, is the largest horse at the stable. Trainer Suzanne Miller adds 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 expressed 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.
For 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, call the Ottawa County Board of DD at 1-800-755-4440, stop by the organization’s booth at the fair, or like them on Facebook.
Chad Karns, who began riding at Vail Meadows Equestrian Center as therapy for Asperger’s Syndrome, will be competing in Showmanship and Walk and Trot competitions at the upcoming Ottawa County Fair.