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Kristann Schneider Cooper, founder of Centaur Rising, grew up on an Iowa farm. Like
so many other little girls, she was “born horse crazy”. After
many years of pleading, Kris’s parents finally bought her a horse
on her seventh birthday. The first time many decades later that
Kris saw Jim Rey’s print of the “Christmas
burst into tears. It was a re-emergence of the longing she felt
as a little girl (before the age of seven!). Kris also spent fifteen long years as an adult
without horses. She empathizes fully with adults who never got
their Christmas Pony or who lost their own Christmas Pony many years ago.
Kris as a teenager decided to become an adolescent psychologist, despite
aptitude tests indicating that she should work outside with animals. Then
Kris worked neither with kids, outside nor with animals after completing her MS
in counseling psychology and her coursework for a PhD. Instead
she worked for 20 years evaluating organizational effectiveness. In
1992 Kris joined her husband, Jim, to work in his equestrian business
fulltime. It was at this time that Kris identified the parallels
between successful horse-human partnerships and successful human behavior
in organizations. Since 1992, she has endeavored to develop
youth as effective future leaders, employers and parents.
Kris' post-MS graduate course work was in "applied socio-psychological research methodology". She worked for many years in the field of program evaluation. This background lends itself to developing measurements that will enable us to show that Centaur Rising is in fact accomplishing what we set out to do.
Unlike her husband, Kris did not start with horses through an “educated” equestrian background. She
rode bareback as a child, even "trained" horses bareback. She competed
in North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC) competition 1981-85. With
Jim, she trained and showed Arabians in the Class A show circuit 1986-96. Since
1996 Kris and Jim have renewed Jim’s original training in dressage. They
participated in the United
States Dressage Federation’s instructor
certification process 1997-2001. From 2002-2004, they hosted bi-monthly
clinics with Alex Wortmann a German Reitlehrer. They have also
cliniced (1997-2005) with Gerhard Politz who was certified by both the
British Horse Society and the German FN. Sarah Martin, Simone Ahern Harless and Beth Baumert have also provided clinics at Anchorage Farm.
Since 1996, Jim and Kris have hosted bi-monthly clinics with Fred Kappler. Fred has a classical dressage background. He was a student of Violet Hopkins for many years and has since woked extensively with Dominique Barbier and Frank Grello, both of whom were students of Nuno Oliviera.
Kris and Jim have
been particularly successful in the training of young riders. Eight students, who studied with Kris and Jim for four or more years, have earned Horse of the Year or reserve Horse of the Year awards from the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society. (Check
out Successes here!)
Kris and Jim have both stressed equine safety in all their teaching
and training. Kris stresses
seat lessons as a foundation for not only looking good and influencing
the horse correctly but for also for developing the correct muscle and
balance that allow one to ride safely.
Sometimes Kris says that she loves the natural environment even more than her
horses. She has endeavored to learn the names of all local wildflowers,
shrubs and trees. She is conscientious about eradicating any non-native
plants from the grounds where CR is located. (Domestic flower gardens are excluded!) For
12 years Kris and Jim took people on trail rides in the Colorado high
country under a special use permit from the Pike
National Forest. Kris
was diligent about minimal impact of their horses on public lands. She even received a commendation from the National Forest Service for doing so!
Jim Cooper started an equestrian business at 12889 S. Parker Avenue,
Pine, Colorado in 1981. Kris joined him in 1985. Jim too
has been a lifelong lover of animals. He has a caretaker’s
passion and a lifelong commitment to all animals that come under his
Jim’s caretaker persona has also extended to youth. He adopted
a special needs child and has helped to raise many children – both
in his home and in the riding stable. One of his first Colorado
students, Susan Grafton, was so influenced by Jim that she invited him
to “give her away” at her 1999 wedding in California. (See the photo on the left.)
Jim’s previous wife, Phyllis Cooper, loved dressage. Their
equestrian center, which they operated 1967-1981 in the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan, was the host to many 1970’s dressage luminaries. Violet
Hopkins, Karl Mikolka, Chuck
Grant and Hans Moeller have all since been
inducted into the USDF’ s Hall of Fame.
Jim holds a BS in fish and wildlife management from Michigan
State University. It
is his passion that has helped keep grounds immaculate for 33 years. Jim
is also a talented wood and metalworker. His handiwork is seen
everywhere at Anchorage Farm. Jim is also a farrier, who makes
all of CR’s horses’ shoes by hand.
In February 2005, the Internal Revenue Service was petitioned to recognize “Centaur
Rising” as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This status
was approved in July 2005, retroactive to February. Contributions
are thus deductible by donors under section 170 of the Code. Bequests,
devises, transfers and gifts are tax-deductible under section 2055, 2106
and 2522 of the Code. Thank you for anything you can do to help further our missions!