Local nonprofit directors dedicate their lives to the common good. photos by Keith Borgmeyer Cheryl Howard, Nora Stewart Early Learning Center As a former graduate...
Name: Karen Grindler
Occupation: Founder and director of Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center
Years lived in Columbia: 37
Original hometown: St. Louis
Family: Husband, John T. Schneller, and daughter, Katherine Schneller
My go-to cocktail: Columbia local brews are always yummy.
My guilty pleasure: The daily crossword puzzle in ink.
Animal I would be: As Cedar Creek’s director, I’ve gotten to witness firsthand the immense bond that can be forged between a person and a horse. Horses are powerful, intelligent, compassionate and perceptive. They can sense energy or emotion and read body language. They have the unparalleled ability to strengthen, heal, embolden and communicate with their riders and caretakers. For those reasons I’d be a horse, of course.
What I do for fun: I play piano, guitar or banjo or read a good book.
Most people don’t know that I: Am an artist with a degree in theater.
On a typical weekday night, I am: Teaching equestrian therapy at Cedar Creek and wondering what kind of delicious meal my husband is making for me.
In a single word, I am: Eclectic.
The three questions I hate getting:
1. Is it difficult to work with sick people? Individuals with disabilities usually are perfectly healthy, just born with challenges. Most of our clients are happy, fun souls just like everyone else. People need to focus on things they have in common with others, not the things that are different.
2. Would you like our blind and lame horse? It would be perfect for your riders. Really? No, because our horses must be sound, well trained and in good condition. They are therapists providing equal 4-D movement into the body of an individual who is working on toning, strengthening muscles and loosening stiff joints.
3. Can we ride after we volunteer? Our horses work anywhere from six to 11 hours a week providing therapy to more than 100 individuals. If every volunteer was given the opportunity to ride, then the horses would be exhausted. Volunteers fulfill a special role assisting our riders by leading horses and side-walking. This experience alone is usually plenty of fun on it’s own.
The businessperson I admire and why: Anastasia Pottinger and Lisa Braman Bartlett have put their hearts and souls into the North Village Arts District and have promoted the local arts community.
A favorite recent project: Cedar Creek took two riders to the American Royal National Horse Show last November, and one of our riders, Eli Miller, and our horse Moonlight Talisman came home with Reserve National Champion.
They’re making a movie about my life. The film’s biggest climactic moment would be: In 27 years of providing equine therapy to the people of mid-Missouri, I have had the honor of seeing real miracles occur: kids who have taken their first steps after the age of 4, whose parents were told they would never walk; children who say their first words ever from the back of their steed; clients who begin in a wheelchair and then start walking again. And all of these are weekly occurrences. My life movie would be an amazing documentary with true success stories that would have you leaving the theater with happy tears.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me? Once, while my class was trail riding, I burst into the song “Three Blind Mice” and completely forgot that I had a rider who was blind in the group. As I gasped in horror at what I had sung out loud and covered my mouth, the rider bellowed back, “See how they run!” And then her dad, who saw my whole reaction, laughed and said, “She actually loves that song.” Whew!
If I were a crayon in a box of Crayolas, I would be: Lavender.
The song that absolutely must be included on the soundtrack of my life: “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin
My all-time biggest regret: Sometimes I regret not going into a more lucrative profession (my mother wanted me to be a lawyer), but I realize that doing what you love is richly rewarding.