June 2017 - Karen Healey Challenge

Kylee Arbuckle tops former trainer’s challenge.

Saturday, May 20, was a day dedicated to honoring the legendary Karen Healey and, in true Karen style, she turned the tables on everyone. Karen generously provided an opportunity for riders to compete in an Open Equitation Challenge over a course designed and to be judged by Karen herself. It was a centerpiece event during the HMI Challenge at the Sonoma Horse Park in Petaluma.

Kylee Arbuckle & Cocon 4, and Karen Healey. Photo: GrandPrix Photography

Karen’s contributions to our sport never end, even while recovering from complications from her recent back surgery. The California Professional Horsemen’s Association Foundation established a fund to accept donations on her behalf as Karen continues to fight to regain her mobility amid multiple hospital visits and physical therapy.

While talking to Karen, it was very clear how grateful she was for the support she has received and for the Sonoma Horse Park and Headlands Management for the fundraising dinner during the Grand Prix and NAJYRC Trial.

“First of all, it was very emotional for me to do this class because (SHP chief) Ashley (Herman) has done so much to try to help me when my leg was paralyzed. She has really been trying to help and it was a huge honor for me,” Karen explained. “I thought the class went very well. I actually used a modified version of the course that I set and judged at the USET Finals last year.  We had to change a few things to fit it into the ring.”

Karen really wanted to express her gratitude for Ashley and the people who supported the class.  “It was very, very heartwarming,” Karen continued of the Challenge class. “For the most part, they rode pretty well: the top ones were very, very good. It was tough but it is supposed to be a champions class and I kept it at 3’3”. I don’t think anything was impossible, but it tested them. It asked them to go forward, it asked them to come back, jump off a turn, to be able to hold out and do the correct bend: Everything I teach was in the course.”

Kylee Arbuckle and Cocon 4 rose to the top and were delighted with their win. You would never imagine that this was their first time in such a competition together. “The mare I rode was actually Ned’s (Glynn) jumper that we are now going to turn into an equitation horse. It was her first time ever doing equitation or jumping flowers and all that, so it was really fun,” Kylee reported. “Ned let me ride her because we wanted to see what she was going to be like and she was awesome! We knew she was going to be brave and so, it was just fun for me to go out there and do that. It is really special to me since I rode with Karen when I was a junior. Karen Healey is an amazing horsewoman and she has always been an inspiration to me.”


For more information on the fund to aid Karen Healey’s recovery,  visit www.cpha.org. California Riding Magazine’s Candid With Karen regular column will return in our July issue.    

Article provided by Sonoma Horse Park.