Hope Unbridled Equestrian Program looking for volunteers, sponsorships

Head coach Ryan Summers has led the team for the past four seasons. Most area high schools open their seasons 

Sherry Jenkins kicked off her Hope Unbridled Equestrian Program six years ago. By all accounts, it has been successful: “We have a waiting list,” said Jenkins. HUEP is a horsemanship opportunity for children, youth and adults with handicaps. According to Jenkins, her clients include emotional, cognitive and physically handicapped folks who are provided the opportunity to learn to ride horses at the riding arena in western Lee County and eastern Pontotoc County. They are accompanied by Jenkins and volunteers who provide guidance and a safe experience as they learn to ride the gentle horses. Jenkins has 10 horses for the program; there are more horses at the facility but some are “boarders” and others don’t have a gentle enough personality to be part of the program. And while the horses must meet certain criteria, the clients must also meet certain criteria: “The desire to ride and learn is one of the main qualifiers,” said Jenkins. She currently has 44 riders enrolled in the program but could have more if the program staff included more volunteers. Eventually, Jenkins would like to be able to pay her assistants so she is seeking a revenue stream through donations and business sponsorships. While equestrian therapy programs can be found in many parts of the country, Jenkins’ effort is one of very few in northeast Mississippi. Her clients hail from Lee County and many surrounding areas; some drive as far as an hour away to participate in the program. “It is for the sheer joy of riding,” Jenkins said of the program’s goal. “Independent riding is the ultimate goal but not all participants make it to that.” Indeed, most clients seem content sitting atop their steed while accompanied by volunteers leading and walking alongside during the one-hour sessions; Jenkins limits the sessions to a maximum of three clients so there is plenty of attention paid to each of them. One of the program’s goals is to “build a relationship with horse and rider, and to build self-confidence” Jenkins said. Some riders have been in the program a couple years which explains why there is a waiting list to join the program. They come, but don’t leave the program once in. HUEP is certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, of which Jenkins is a certified instructor. She was required to complete a training program for her certification, which she began several years before opening her facility, a nonprofit organization guided by a nine-member board of directors. Jenkins credits her husband, Bobby Jenkins, with being the primary driving force behind making the HUEP effort successful since he did most of the construction and maintains upkeep of the facility. “We are looking for volunteers and business sponsorships,” Jenkins said. For more information about HUEP, call 662-231-5388 or check out their website at hopeunbridledequestrian.org.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.