Abigail Knudtson, a self-taught and motivated Northwest Christian School senior, has plans of turning her love for horses into a career.
Growing up, she and her family had a neighbor who would let her and her three younger siblings come over to pet, ride and care for their horses. Her grandparents live next to people who have also horses and let her visit with their animals.
Last summer Knudtson began searching for places where she could gain more experience working with horses. She discovered Full Circle Rescue through her online search and sent a message of inquiry via Facebook.
“The thing about Abigail, she’s a self-starter, she’s driven, she sets her goals and she knows what she’s working on,” said founder and executive director of Full Circle Rescue, Cristy Pemberton.
As a volunteer with Full Circle Rescue, Knudtson has been able to work with horses on a regular basis. Currently she is working with a horse, Angel, on making her more adoptable.
Despite not having an easily accessible horse to practice with until recently and learning most of her training techniques from YouTube videos, Knudtson has been able to make her goal of working with horses a reality.
“I’m very thankful for her interest because one of the reasons this program exists is because unless we have more young people excited about horses and connecting to them and farm animals in general, it’s like where are they going to fit? So, we need Abigails. The horses need Abigails,” Pemberton said.
Through volunteering at Full Circle Rescue and watching various videos on training, Knudtson has been able to specifically identify the type of work she wants to do with horses.
“I want to go into massage therapy,” Knudtson said. “I’m really interested in that, especially with Angel. Just from the very little massage techniques that I know it’s definitely been able to help her a lot. She had ulcers, so she was really sensitive to being groomed, and it really helped loosen up her muscles and make her more comfortable.”
In middle school Knudtson was failing the majority of her classes and was pulled out of school so that she could be home-schooled by her mother. Shortly afterward she was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia.
“Believe or it or not I’m pretty impatient, but that’s the exact opposite of what you want when you’re working with horses with problems or even doing schoolwork,” Knudtson said.
The flexible schedule of home-schooling allowed Knudtson to finish her schoolwork earlier in the day, which made it possible for her to go and spend time with the horses near her grandparents.
Before the beginning of her junior year Knudtson’s mother was diagnosed with Lyme disease and due to her illness was no longer able to continue home-schooling Knudtson.
Knudtson’s mother was referred to Northwest Christian School by a friend who is also the mother of children with learning disabilities. Knudtson began attending Northwest Christian her junior year.
Regardless of some of the challenges Knudtson faces as a student she has been successful in staying organized and has been able to balance her responsibilities as a student along with her interest in horses.
“As a student she is so bright, engaged and in terms of having her in the classroom she’s like one of those students who makes a teacher feel kind of good to be a teacher,” said Chris Wells, an English teacher. “She’s wonderful, she’s very personable, I would consider her in a lot of ways to be kind of a friend. She’s just that kind of personable person that’s just willing to talk and laugh and joke and she knows when to be serious and she knows when to be lighthearted.”
Through a program available to seniors at Northwest Christian School, Knudtson is able to spend her mornings volunteering at Full Circle Rescue.
“Since there is no college for equine massage therapy and I don’t really need extra credits, so I have been able to use those hours in the morning to come and work with her (Angel) and a couple hours every day a week is a lot,” Knudtson said.
Knudtson has a couple of post-graduation options available – both having to do with horses, of course. One option is in Texas with a trainer who specializes in rehabilitation and the other option is with a friend in Michigan who works for a large horse rescue center.
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