The vision for Gait Ways Training and Rescue, Inc. began in the heart of a little girl of four years, whose love of horses became a lifetime commitment to their care and welfare. With time and maturity her sense of compassion expanded along with her understanding about a horse’s natural instincts for community and how those traits can be shared with people to form a bond of emotional healing and strength.
Amy’s personal journey in pursuit of her vision began in 1985 at a place called Still Creek Ranch. There she received her first hands-on experience with horses. The very first lesson learned informed her that it is about more than using a horse for the pleasure of riding. Grooming, hoof care and tack maintenance were key elements for nurturing a relationship of mutual enjoyment based on respect and trust.
Joining 4-H opened the door to competition. During these years her riding skills developed but so did her knowledge about horse pathology, nutrition, intelligence and means of communication. Horse and rider became a coordinated team of style and finesse, leading to a succession of award-winning performances.
Amy’s success in the arena engendered requests from parents to train their children to compete in the various western, English and dressage classes even though she was barely older than her students. They in turn won enough trophies to justify their parent’s confidence in Amy as a teacher and trainer.
Amy ultimately came to the decision that some training techniques had to be unlearned, since they exploited a horse’s vulnerabilities in order to enhance a rider’s competitive advantage. Her subsequent goal was to always create a partnership of equals between horse and human.
Amy began to turn her horse hobby into a career by driving horse-drawn carriages before she had her license to drive a car. But it was during this stint that she saw the abuse the carriage horses were subject to by their owner. Her solution to improve the horses’ care was simple. She bought the business when she was nineteen, establishing Cornerstone Carriages as her first business venture. This was also the start of her rescue efforts as she began sheltering other horses, which had the same misfortune of being owned by people, whose limited knowledge resulted in abusive treatment.
As a farrier Amy came into contact with others who shared her passion for rescue work. Both Racer Placers and Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary utilized her skills in shaping horses’ hooves to the proper contour for good health. In return these organizations shaped her perception of what can be achieved through the type of charitable support, which sustains such non-profits in fulfillment of their mission.
It was through Kim Copps, owner of Corral Coaching and Counseling, that Amy gained here first hands-on experience in partnering with horses as therapy animals. And it was her participation in the Natural Lifemanship workshops offered by Tim Jobe and Bettina Schultz-Jobe that inspired Amy to add one more element to her commitment of rescuing abused horses; the creation of a collaborative horse-human training program, in which her horses would serve as participants in the art of helping others build healthy interpersonal relationships.
The human side of this program became apparent when Amy joined the staff of Life Styles in northwest Arkansas. This is an organization, which ministers to an elite group of people, special needs adults with developmental challenges. The Life Styles mission is to prepare their clients with the skills to become “contributing members of the community.” Healthy relationships are essential to being a contributing member to any community. So to make her vision complete, Amy embarked on her most ambitious project to-date, the establishment of a training facility focusing on special needs adults with its own stated mission of “Uniting horses and humans in a bond of friendship and trust.”
This is a goal, which can be attained in the company of a horse and a once small girl in pursuit of her dream.
Gait Ways Training and Rescue, Inc. thereby came into existence as a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Arkansas on January 24, 2019. The application for charitable status was affirmed by the Internal Revenue Service with a determination letter dated May 21 of the same year. This was a crucial step since the primary means of financing all operations would be charitable gifts from those who share Amy’s passion for her mission. All cash and in-kind gifts will be acknowledged as tax-deductible in keeping with the IRS code.
Please join us by making your gift to:
Gait Ways, Training and Rescue, Inc.
12591 Patton Road
West Fork, AR 72774