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Randy Travis

Country music legend

Headshot photo credit: @risatphotography

With lifetime sales in excess of 25 million, Randy Travis is one of the biggest multi-genre record sellers of all time and a recent inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame class of 2016. His honors include seven Grammy Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music statuettes, 10 American Music Awards, two People’s Choice awards, seven Music City News awards, eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association and five Country Music Association honors. In addition, three of his performances earned CMA Song of the Year honors: “On the Other Hand” (1986), “Forever and Ever Amen” (1987) and “Three Wooden Crosses” (2002).

To date, he has 22 No. 1 singles, 31 Top-10 smashes and more than 40 appearances in feature films and television shows to his credit. Four of his albums are Gold Records. Four are Platinum. One has gone Double Platinum. One is Triple Platinum and another is Quintuple Platinum. In 2004, Randy was honored with his own star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is honored on the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville, TN. He has been a member of the cast of the Grand Ole Opry since 1986. In 2017, Randy was honored with a wax figure at Madame Tussauds™ Nashville. Since his near fatal stroke in 2013, with the help of his wife Mary and rigorous physical therapy, Randy continues to make improvements in his speaking, walking, and yes, singing.

The love of a horse is pure and unaltered between man and horse. Since before I was able to walk, I have been on horseback—initially at my father’s insistence, and forever after due to my affection for them. I don’t remember a time, in my 63 years of life, when I didn’t have horses, nor would I change that luxury. I cleared my head and escaped the world more times than I can count when I was one with the horse and the wind…they were my friend.

My dad trained horses and I suppose I somewhat followed in his footsteps, as I spent many hours, both teaching and learning, from my equine companions. I’m not sure who learned the most—often, I got the feeling I was on the winning end of it. When I needed a lesson in patience, I got it. When I needed a lesson in understanding, I got it. When I needed a dose of kindness, I got it. And, when I needed the quietness of a friend, I got it, too! My horses have come in all shapes, sizes, breeds, colors, and temperaments—I learned and loved them each.

Trigger, Jr., son of Roy Roger’s Trigger, was plain ornery. Scout was one of the smartest horses I had ever been around. And, Preacher, is the kindest horse I’ve ever owned. With a wide range of personalities in between, I’ve been blessed with the well-rounded friendships I have found in my horses. After spending almost 6 months in the hospital following my bout with viral cardiomyopathy and massive stroke, I was finally allowed to take an afternoon test-run visit, with Mary, to our ranch. The hour-long drive, now the same man but in a different shell, left me anxious for what I would find, recognize, know, and feel when I arrived. Following the stroke, there was much confusion and lack of recognition regarding much of the life I had once known. When we first pulled up the drive to our ranch, our first greeting came from our pasture of ponies—we drove right up to the fence and one by one, they each came over to the window, nuzzled my neck, and stood around as if they each were sharing their stories of the last 6 months. Preacher laid his head on my shoulder and remained through storytime. So many forgotten memories and familiar feelings came flooding back to me—they were the therapists I would understand the best.

I guess when it comes to horses and mankind, a leap of understanding is needed on both sides…they recognize our shortcomings, and we applaud their sensitivity. My life, my music, my soul would be so different if I had not known the love of a horse…forever and ever, Amen.

Riley Smith

actor, musician, former Youth World Champion Equestrian.

photo credit: @bkheadshots

In an exclusive interview, actor, musician and equestrian @rileysmithofficial, (of “Motocrossed” movie fame and current star on CW’s “Nancy Drew”) shares a story he’s never told publicly before in support of the Seen Through Horses Campaign of how his horse, Famous Brick, made a transformational impact in his early life. 

In his youth, Riley was diagnosed with a rare medical condition, Guillain-Barre syndrome that affects the body’s nerves, and caused temporary loss of his motor skills. His mother, Roxanne, understood the power of horses and how they could help Riley overcome his emotional and physical challenges. Discover how horses helped to heal and transform Riley’s life, how he went on to win the American Quarter Horse Youth World Championship, land 50+ movie and tv roles and why he believes mental health programs involving horses should be accessible to everyone.

I grew up on a quarter horse ranch in Iowa. Horses have been my life, they’ve saved my life, they will always be a party of my life. I would 100% suggest that people with any sort of anxiety, physical, mental, emotional disorder or ailment – anything you’re going through, try turning to horses. It’s such a cool, unique, progressive way to try to heal.

Mikayla Lane

RECORDING ARTIST, SONGWRITER

Photo credit John Conrad

Seventeen-year-old Mikayla Lane is ambitious and driven–traits branded by her upbringing, lifestyle, personality and passions. With heart, vision and talent beyond her years, she knows what she wants and she is determined to chase her dream; her pursuit began early on. Mikayla was just 13 when she earned a spot on Blake Shelton’s OIe Red talent roster, which originated in Shelton’s hometown of Tishomingo, Oklahoma and Mikayla’s home state.

In September 2021, Mikayla introduced her sophomore recording project, Miles From Nowhere, featuring four originals that embrace her western lifestyle. In keeping with family tradition and their mutual passion for rodeo and the lifestyle, Mikayla was recently named as the official spokesperson for the nation’s largest youth rodeo, the Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship.

“I’ve grown up around horses, been around them my whole life. My family was in the cattle business for years; so, all of our horses have always been ‘cow horses’…working horses with a strong cow sense, lots of cutting horse breeding in the line. Over the last few years my focus on my music has become more dedicated resulting in less and less time at home in Oklahoma. I learned to ride at an early age but I never really appreciated being able to ride my own horses anytime I wanted or realize the true pleasure and relaxation they offered me until being away from them so much over the last couple years. Firebug is my favorite! He’s such a sweetie and he’s who you’ll see 99% of the time when I post a photo with a horse…

Firebug is 26, but you would never know it. Of course, there are a couple tell-tale signs that he’s a mature horse; horses show signs of aging just like we do. (A little fun Firebug history…. Firebug actually belongs to my Dad; he was a surprise from my Mom on Dad’s 30th birthday.) Not only is Firebug in a lot of my social media posts but he also costarred in my music video for my most recent single release, ‘Ambush.’ He’s the gorgeous sorrel I’m riding during the scenes shot in the beautiful red canyon area of Gloss Mountain State Park in Oklahoma.

When I’ve been away from home for a while, Firebug is always the first friend I want to hang out with! I can’t wait to see him and ride. Enjoying the beautiful Oklahoma landscape from Firebug’s saddle is so relaxing. It helps me forget about any stressors or bad days I might have had or anything that just didn’t go as I had hoped. Not only has Firebug been a huge source of comfort and companionship for me, but he has also been a great teacher. I’ve learned so many great lessons in responsibility and hard work from horses…feeding, watering, cleaning stalls, making sure they’re in good health.

Depending upon the purpose of your horse…pleasure, work, show, breeding programs…there can be so much more to learn and so much more to be responsible for…training, shoeing, special diets, working the horse daily, etc. I’m very thankful that I have been lucky to have Firebug and so many other great horses in my life.

I think back on all the wonderful experiences I’ve had with our horses and I recognize just how much they have contributed to my happiness, my attitude, my outlook and especially my growth as it relates to becoming more responsible. If you have the opportunity to get involved with any equine program I would strongly encourage you to do so because I promise it will bring so many good feelings and good times your way!”

Kristy Goodall

world champion equestrian

Kristy Goodall was born in eastern Iowa and spent many summers on her Aunt and Uncle’s farm riding her pony, Darby, and dreaming of great things with horses. She was born with only one hand due to a congenital birth defect and found acceptance and identity in her horses. She went on with this passion to an adult and started showing horses directly out of college. She moved to Wyoming to teach school and mentored several of her middle and high school students through activities such as 4-H and local open show circuits in SW Wyoming. She spent many summers as well leading youth on trail rides in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a wrangler for a youth summer camp.

Kristy has had several show partners, but she claims a bay roan quarter horse stallion she calls “Harley” as her heart horse. Kristy and Harley together have won 5 World Championship titles in the AQHA, PtHA and the ARHA. Harley “VS Goodall In Blue”, was just starting his career as a sire this past year and was lost tragically to a freak accident this past March of 2022.

Kristy continues her passion with horses with her husband Dean, and son Colt, in Dickinson ND where they raise 2-3 colts a year, and Kristy stays involved showing horses both regionally and nationally. Kristy as well shares the positive impact horses have had on her life with interested students as she is the Principal of an Alternative High School in Dickinson.

 

I was born with one hand.

I did not realize that I was truly that different until I got older, and was the brunt of stares, private conversations, overhearing children tell their mother that I scared them because I only had one hand, and being told I was physically “messed up” to my face. I learned to grow up with a “thicker skin” than most, and many have told me that I carry a perpetual indifference about me… which I feel I firmly developed because of being labeled very obviously “different” from other people. The one place I found refuge and solace, was in horses…

I grew up and was that lucky girl that had family with a farm not too far from where my father and I and my brother lived. My mother left when I was 2, so it was just the three of us. When I was in 2nd grade, my father purchased for me my first pony, Darby, and the rest they say, is history.

That pony ingrained deeply in me, pure acceptance, love, and freedom. We galloped all over the countryside for many years. I had dreams of entering horse shows. We would pretend we won hundreds of blue ribbons as we jumped logs and creeks in eastern Iowa. After Darby, there were many other that came along, Hawkeye, Sunny (my first true show horse), Tuffy, Apollo (my first AQHA experience), Jackson, and finally the love of my lifetime, a bay roan AQHA stallion named Harley “VS Goodall In Blue”. Harley and I went on a show career I could have never imagined could have happened in a lifetime, cumulating in 5 World Championships, Reserve World titles, and several top 10 titles. Now my little Buckskin roan mare “Sassy” is taking me onto the next phase of my life…

All of my life, with all of my horses, there were stories of where we went, what we did, what we learned, and what they meant to me… from experiences in the show pen, to trail riding, to being an outrider on a wagon train for youth during summer camps in South Dakota. No matter what we were doing, or where we were, it was the horses that always gave me that feeling of pure acceptance, identity, and purpose. Horses gave me an escape from the world that labeled me as different, to a world where no matter who I was, or what I looked like, I found love and belonging, and filled a void that no human being could.

They say “A great horse will change your life. The truly special ones define it…” – Author Unknown. My life without question, has been changed and defined because of seeing it through the eyes of my equine partners.

“Horses lend us the wings we lack.” – Pam Brown

Reggie Selma

legendary photojournalist & Host of "An Inspired Life" podcast

A former photojournalist with over three decades of experience, Reggie Selma became CNN’s first African American White House cameraman in 1982. During his career, he gained access to every US President from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. He also met some of history’s most influential figures, including Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela. Reggie’s podcast is consistently top ranked globally. Reggie uses stories and expertise from his life and career to inspire audiences around the world.

Reggie is the host of “An Inspired Life” podcast and recently interviewed Horses for Mental Health’s co-founder, Lynn Thomas and Acres for Life founder and CEO, Lynn Moore.
You can listen to the full episode, here.

Photo of Reverend Joseph S. Selma, Sr. taken by Joseph S. Selma, Junior

“I’d love to share a story about my father, Reverend Joseph S. Selma, Sr. and how a horse saved his life.

In 1950, my hometown of Birmingham Alabama was a city divided by segregation of Jim Crow. During this time there was an incident between my dad and a white trolley driver in downtown Birmingham…

The trolley driver refused to give my dad his correct change. And, with my mom and my brother Joe looking on, tempers flared between my dad and the trolley driver. What started out as a fun Sunday afternoon ride for ice cream, could have turned deadly. Because, the trolley driver pulled back his jacket to reveal a gun.
My mom persuaded my dad to exit the trolley and just go home.
But my dad wanted to lash out at the driver and get his change. So he started walking back towards the now parked trolley. But as my dad was getting closer and closer to the trolley driver, he suddenly stops in his tracks!

He sees a horse tied to a hitching post. He walks over and rubs the horse’s forehead. And the horse starts to nudge my dad with his nose.

This horse calmed my dad so much that he started to laugh.
The anger and hurt in my dad, now gone!
And then my brother Joe, pulled out his old camera and took this treasured family picture of my dad and the horse.
To me, the look on my father’s face says, “ you are not going to break my spirit!”

Amberley Snyder

Barrel Racer, Breakaway Roper and Motivational Speaker

Amberley Snyder, Elkridge, Utah, is a barrel racer and inspirational speaker who’s fought her way back from tragedy. She inspires riders across the country by telling her triumphant story of returning to the saddle after a tragic truck accident that left her with no feeling below her waist. Just 18 months after her wreck, she was back in the saddle. She’s made the ultimate comeback to compete in rodeos across the western United States and shares her journey and horse life on social media.

Being in a position where I didn’t know if I would ride again I was devastated. Horses not only provide me with freedom, but they truly are my legs. I am so thankful for everything they have done for me and have allowed me to be myself again.

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