We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelcy Rainer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelcy, how do you think about risk?
Safety and success are heavily weighed on risk management in my profession as Therapeutic Program Director at Chastain Horse Park. I hold my PATH Intl. Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor with PATH Intl. CTRI certification. PATH Intl.,– Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International–is a credentialing organization in the Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies industry that promotes and ensures excellence by providing education, certifications, and standards. The concept of working with a ~1,000 lbs. fight or flight animal for their therapeutic value and an often unpredictable population of individuals with special needs requires a significant amount of risk management. Control the controllable. Maintaining the highest of standards is imperative to reap the abundance of benefits provided by horses. It is important to keep a mental check on how my decisions affect and impact others and how I manage the team and influence their good decision making skills. On a personal note, I am an adventurous person. I am glad that some of the risks I took in the past led me to some wonderful things. After graduating from UGA, I decided to move out to Jackson, Wyoming by myself and live out west for the summer (which turned into about 4 years). I’m so glad I took this opportunity because it’s where I met my husband and what led me to this profession. I volunteered for Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riding and eventually was hired and excelled on this career path.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Serving individuals with different abilities challenges me in many ways. It requires patience, creativity, compassion and perseverance. It’s important to be a lifelong learner and bettering yourself to positively affect others. I feel a responsibility to my community to share my passion. My dedication and practice are easy to share because I truly enjoy what I do and the little miracles I witness regularly at work are evident. It gives me so much joy to know that I influenced the first word,”whoa”, of one of my clients–a 9 year old on the autism spectrum that had been non-verbal. I get goose bumps every time I tell that story. Knowing that I have pushed a 15 year old with Agenesis of Corpus Callosum to mount and dismount her horse with less and less physical support directly relates to her independence. Her improved mobility, flexibility, balance and strength has helped her at home to get in and out of the bathtub more safely. This may seem minute but makes a huge difference in her life and her care-takers lives. We work with so many different individuals, ages, special needs that it’s always interesting and never a dull moment. The special needs vary and it’s not just physical and cognitive but emotional too. I am able to witness a group of women that were sexually trafficked and exploited participate weekly in equine activities and gain confidence, empowerment, and trust. I relish in the fact that I can actually see that I am making a difference in the lives of our clients.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When the weather is great and the water is clear, I really enjoy floating down the Chattahoochee. From my years of living out west and spending a lot of time on the Snake, Hoback, Gros Ventre, Green River, etc. I had to find something to scratch that itch. My husband and I enjoy the great outdoors so we spend as much time outside as possible. Atlanta is known as the city in a forest and we’re fortunate to have such great foliage. It doesn’t compare to the Grand Tetons but it’s so nice to have a descent balance of nature in such a large metropolitan area. This outdoor theme carries over into some of my favorite watering holes and dining spots. Anywhere in the city with al fresco option: King & Duke, Anis, Canoe, JCT, anything along the belt-line, I’m from New Orleans and love to cook, so does my husband, so we do a ton of grilling and eating at home and enjoy our back yard. I think that a lot of the standard hot-spots such as the aquarium, botanical gardens, High Museum, Scott’s Antique Market, would have to be on the list of things to do.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am very grateful for the opportunities my family provided for me. I was a competitive equestrian showing nationally and internationally growing up and this is where my love of horses originated. I appreciate their love, trust and support. My parents fostered my independence and allowed me to make my own mistakes and learn from them. They set great examples of how I would like to raise my children some day. They always had high expectations which I was driven to meet and these same principles have pushed me to be the best I can be. My husband, Evans, supports me in the same way and is a perfect compliment in our marriage. Having your own intimate support team of family and loved ones is invaluable. I particularly like this quote: “Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.” —Brad Henry I am fortunate to serve my community and make a positive impact on others lives–it’s extremely rewarding.
Linkedin: Kelcy Smith Rainer
Youtube: Chastain Horse Park