Meet Kathy: Determined to Adapt

Kathy Poppe-Pullen won the 2015 Trainer of the Year award from the Central New Jersey Horsemen’s Association with an impressive list of credentials. She had decades of experience as a hunter-jumper professional and her USEF judge’s card. She was a member with colors of the Monmouth County Hunt. She had a talent for retraining off-the-track thoroughbreds and a knack for equine rehabilitation.

What further set Kathy apart from the other nominees was that she had recently become a double amputee.

Plagued by an autoimmune syndrome, Kathy faced the amputation of both her legs in the year preceding her award. After a lengthy hospital stay, she began a grueling physical therapy regimen, through which she learned to walk on prosthetic legs.

Despite her health challenges, Kathy maintained her beloved Woodhollow Farm training facility, and her example inspired countless students. Her lessons were not only about horsemanship, but about facing life’s difficulties with bravery, humor and grace. By early 2017, however, she could no longer make ends meet and was forced to sell her farm on a short sale.


Kathy has relied on grants from Equestrian Aid Foundation and the USHJA Foundation to cover her basic living expenses as she seeks new, consistent employment. Even with four decades’ experience as an equestrian professional and prior experience in the corporate world, the job market has proved daunting and disheartening for Kathy. But she possesses the can-do spirit of a true horsewoman, and she is determined to adapt and to become self-sufficient once again. 

Thanks to our donors, Kathy has the support of her community as she does so. “The Equestrian Aid Foundation has made new things possible,” she says. “I can’t measure how much your help means to me.”