My Desert Circuit: Meet Kim Cheikha
A mother of four with a passion for horses, Kim Cheikha has been blessed by horses her whole life. After growing up and competing Kim left the horse industry to pursue college and to see what else her life had to offer. Thirty years later, Kim has returned to her passion and brings along her husband and four kids. She believes that horses have a way of filling the soul with joy and that when God gives you a dream, you should follow it. We were able to catch up with Kim and learn about her wonderful story.
DIHP: How did you get into riding horses?
KC: Horses were introduced into my life at the age of 10 when my father moved our family to Evergreen, Colorado from Florida with the promise of ponies and farm animals. At that time, he purchased quarter horses for himself, my sister and me. It was an absolute dream, the smell of the stable, the alfalfa, the sound of the horses in the barn and the call of them when I went to feed them in the morning. On a bad day I found myself in the stall talking to them as they lay in their fresh bedding. I always felt a thrill as I would canter them bareback up the mountain towards home along the winding, dirt trails, over downed trees and through creek beds. Something new came alive in me. My sister and I quickly found we could jump over hay bales, propped logs, and more. Our parents found a hunter jumper trainer and launched the love of hunters and competing. The quarter horses were replaced with appendix horses, and eventually warmbloods.
DIHP:What makes horses so special for you?
KC: After a 30 year break due to college and the need to make a living and grow up, horses are back in my life. My husband understands the passion, loves me and my love of the horse and bends over backwards to try to help with the dream. The dream never left, the longing never stopped, and I wondered if the dream was worth holding on too many times. I actually doubted that God gave me the passion and dream. I felt guilty to desire such an expensive endeavor. I waited patiently and quietly, praying the dream could be trusted. In my gut I always knew not everyone was born with this passion and that it was not a mistake that I had it. So, I trusted and waited decades. As Fadi and I grew our business, we also had four children and as our oldest became interested in horses, we knew it was in the genes. We were financially able to start riding. All four of our children fell in love with the sport and started competing before long.
DIHP:What is the best memory you have while riding?
KC: I have so many great memories that include horses. Some of the best memories include my family. I remember riding into town as a child with my father and sister and tying up to the saloon. Once I got back into the saddle, my kids joined. One of my first rides back was with our oldest daughter which soon was followed by a trip to Germany to purchase horses which was a huge highlight for me. Our youngest would scream from her stroller to be able to be placed up on top of the horse before she could walk. The horses head would look down into my daughters eyes and she would reach for them, what can I say it’s in the family. And when my boys joined, they love competing in the jumpers and we all show here which is a dream come true.
DIHP: Tell us about your horses and what you compete in.
KC: I have two wonderful horses. I trust them completely. They are talented , safe, and full of personality. I ride Uptick in the equitation division and medal classes. I ride Nina otherwise known as Catniss in the AA hunters. I hope to go back to the AO hunters this year.
DIHP: What is it like competing at DIHP?
KC: Competing at Desert International Horse Park is a dream. The facility is a wonderful place for horses and spectators. We love the arena’s footing, we love the extra arenas for lessons, the staff is friendly and encouraging at the gate, the RV facility is spacious with full hookups, and there is a variety of stalls to choose from. We very much appreciate being able to watch arenas live when we are unable to get to one another’s arenas. The new management is obviously passionate about the sport.
DIHP: What has been your biggest accomplishment while competing?
KC: It has always been a joy to share it with the family. However, as an accomplishment, probably riding in derbies and in some of the medal classes. I am 56 years old trying to grow as a rider and compete with talented kids. My husband, our four kids, our business and non-profit always take the front seat to the passion of horses, however, miraculously I am able to enjoy it all. Somehow the time is always there. Probably the best accomplishment was the first big ribbon earned riding in a Derby class for the first time and actually placing second.