Return to Headlines

A Lifelong Passion Becomes Limitless

A lifelong Passion Becomes

Kentucky is well known as “horse country” but Kentucky native Kelly Bloomfield brought her lifelong passion for horses to Alabama, finding a new home at the AIDB Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian (MGHSE) program.

“We were so lucky to get Kelly,” MGHSE Arena Coordinator, Tim Greene, said. “She volunteered here while she was doing an internship in interpreting at the Talladega Regional Center. That’s what she was planning on doing for her career, but she started volunteering with us at the Arena, and got to know us, and she couldn’t stay away. She does a great job for us.”

Kelly is now an instructor and coordinator of the Student Worker Program at
AIDB’s MGHSE facility, and says she sees something incredible every day. From a child who is deaf taking his or her first tentative steps toward a gentle mare, to a wheelchair-bound child going on a trail ride, to a blind child saddling up with the MGHSE Riders Club, Bloomfield witnesses a whole world of limitless possibilities emerging for these students and others as they bond with these beautiful animals.

“There are absolutely no words to describe how it makes me feel,” Bloomfield said. “It is life-changing for someone who has so many doubts in [his/her] head to all of sudden have all these doors open. I have seen parents watching their child ride begin to cry because they see their child free, up on this horse, doing exactly what other kids do.
Incredible is not really a good enough word for it.”

The MGHSE program, which began in 1989 with six horses and eight students, has blossomed over the years into one of the most enjoyed therapeutic and recreational outlets across AIDB. The MGHSE staff oversees 300 to 400 riders per month and students involved in the program average more than 20 sessions per year on more than a dozen horses.

In addition to regular classes for all skill levels, MGHSE is home to the Riders Club, its own competitive team representing AIDB. Students from all three AIDB campuses try out and are selected to be on the team. Most years, over 60 students will try out with around 30 actually making the team. This year the Riders Club is adding a Drill Team, a team of 6 riders who will perform choreographed maneuvers designed to show sportsmanship, horsemanship, teamwork and dedication.

MHGSE also prepares more advanced riders to participate in the Special Olympics. The Student Worker Program provides much-needed opportunities for students from each of AIDB’s campuses to learn independent decision-making and responsibility by helping to care for the horses and maintain the facility. The uniqueness of MGHSE is what drew Bloomfield to AIDB from her home in Falmouth, Kentucky. “I wouldn’t have moved from two states away if this job and this place weren’t something very special,” Bloomfield said. “I look forward to being part of this program every single day.”