When doctors suggested swimming or horseback riding to Jean Baum after telling her that her then 9-month old daughter might not walk, Jean decided to investigate therapeutic riding. Her friend Marge Allen invited her to a lecture by Lida McGowan who founded the Cheff Center for therapeutic riding in Michigan. After hearing Lida speak, Jean was convinced that Kansas City needed a therapeutic riding program. However, no one in Jean’s circle of equine friends was willing to take on the project. They were unnerved by the prospect of having children with disabilities on their property, much less riding horses.
In 1981, Heartland purchased 27 acres at 133rd and Antioch, where the program grew under the leadership of Jean—and later Patti Kortkamp—who was asked by Jean to run things when Jean moved from Kansas to Virginia. Sandy Rose and Joni Roeseler, who are current members of Heartland’s Board of Directors, were both involved in the early years as volunteer coordinators.
In the mid-1990’s, real estate developers became interested in Heartland’s property. Eventually, the property was sold and Heartland moved further south to its current location at 19655 Antioch Road with 78 acres of land. The facility was specifically built for therapeutic riding and was formally dedicated in 1998.
Heartland is recognized as a PATH Intl. Premiere Accredited Center. Heartland was one of the first accredited therapeutic riding centers in the US. Today, there are more than 850 PATH Intl. accredited centers. Jean recently said, “Heartland has become ever so much more than I ever dreamed it would be.”