The Journey Horses Can Take Us On

Despite a physical disability, Jewell pressed on to achieve her dream of owning a horse.

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I’ve wanted horses to be a big part of my life ever since I was a young child. I dreamed of having a horse farm someday. I wanted to keep horses in my life, even if I couldn’t have one of my own. I thought it was magical watching a girl and a horse bond.

Jewell Cox with her horse. Horse ownership is a journey she's always dreamed of.
Jewell and her horse, Glory. Horses have taken Jewell on a special journey. Photo courtesy Jewell Cox

A True Cowgirl

I have a condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. I can’t stand up without braces, and I use a walker and wheelchair. My disability not only affects my daily life, but my future and goals.

I’m limited on what I can do with horses. I can’t just hop up on a horse like anyone else. When looking at me, people might think that I can easily get hurt around a horse. I’ve never seen it that way, though; I’ve always seen myself like any other horse-crazy girl. I wanted to know everything about horses, and I hoped to be a true cowgirl or horsewoman. It just took a while for me to feel that way.

A favorite equine haven of mine is the Kentucky Horse Park. I’m sure my family got tired of seeing the same horses and activities every year when I’d ask to go for my birthday, but I loved it. I would go on the pony ride every time and loved seeing the many different horse breeds.

As I grew into my teenage years, I wanted to ride horses more than anything. My parents agreed to let me ride at a therapeutic riding center known as the REATH Center (Riding Enhanced Around Therapeutic Horses) in Campbellsville, Ky. I rode once a week every week, weather permitting.

Jewell Cox riding at her therapeutic riding center
Jewell honed her skills in the saddle at the therapeutic riding center near her home. Photo courtesy Jewell Cox

I would savor and soak up every moment at the riding center. I learned a lot about riding and caring for a horse while spending time there. I grasped that even with my disability, it was still possible to ride like anyone else.

Deep down, I still desired my big dream: having a horse of my own. I knew that day would come in the distant future when I became an adult. However, it ended up coming a lot sooner than I expected.

A Dream Realized

When I was 15 years old, a Tennessee Walking Horse named Glory changed my life. While on the search for a horse, I discovered a herd of nine horses not far from where I live. Some were untouched, and others loved attention and treats.

Those horses taught me so much throughout the time I spent with them. I developed relationships with them. I even bonded with Harley, the horse that wouldn’t come anywhere near you. To that herd of horses, I will forever be grateful that I met them and bonded with them.

I rode Glory at that farm for a few years before bringing her to my home. Before that happened, I’ll never forget my dad asking me if I would ever grow out of my love for riding. I assured him I wouldn’t.

Some young girls have a phase of loving horses, but I never grew out of that phase. Now, at 20 years old, I enjoy living my childhood dream every day by taking part in Glory’s life and daily care.

Owning and riding a horse isn’t just a hobby or sport for me. Being a rider is who I am. I wake up every day and wheel myself out to the barn because I love it. It’s my motivation and inspiration. I’m so thankful I get to live my dream every day, even if it’s just going out to the barn to do chores.

I know I’m going to experience more with horses, so the journey has just begun!

This article about Jewell Cox’s horse journey appeared in the April 2022 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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