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Kokopelli Equine Steps It Up For 2015



by Dawn Moore



So many times families are drawn into the Saddlebred world because of a child’s love for horses. In this case, it wasn’t necessarily about the child loving horses as it was a mother finding a way to help her daughter stop walking on her tippy toes. When Karen Van Diest’s daughter Ella Stafford took her first riding lessons eight years ago at Green Wood Stables with Rob and Stephanie Kritzler, it was more about a mother trying to find something that would help build her daughters muscles up to help keep her heels down and stop walking on her tippy toes than it was about the horses. Ella loved all animals, so she was up for riding horses.

It didn’t take long for Karen to start riding too, and before they knew it they owned their first show horse, CH Hometown Commander. Most recently, Karen has been showing CH Desert Supreme Kid in the five-gaited pleasure division while 13-year old daughter Ella has had several years of success in the junior exhibitor country pleasure division with Brianna Fox, winning a reserve world’s champion title at Louisville last year under the direction of Rob Kritzler. "Rob & Stefanie taught us so much. They are truly compassionate trainers who we thank for always taking great care of us and our horses." Karen stated.

In 2012, Karen purchased the 40 acre farm where she resides with husband Donny and daughter Ella. In 2012, they added a beautiful state-of-the-art barn with an arena and launched Kokopelli Equine. Stalls are 12 x 14 each with an individual 12 x 20 run-out. The 100 x 152 indoor heated arena has shredded Nike textile footing and radiant heat is included throughout the arena and barn.

When asked how the name Kokopelli was selected, Karen stated “It’s the diety of fertility and I’ve always loved the hunchback flute player man. He made me smile.” It only made sense to incorporate him into the logo. All of the foals to date have the prefix Kokopelli on their papers.

In March of 2015, Kokopelli Equine hired Dave Hysaw as their trainer. Hysaw brings with him a wealth of knowledge having worked horses for Priebe Stock Farm for nearly a decade, Don Bridges, Pinekrest Farm, Nelson Green Stables, Barry Yount Stables and Heartland Stables. Hysaw had his own training barn, Bugle Boy Stables in AZ for over a decade before moving back to the Des Moines area in 2012 working for Heartland Stables a second time. While at Heartland he had the opportunity to work with some great horses including CH Callaway’s Cumulus, Platinum Surprise JJW, and start several young prospects including Dreamacre’s Imagine.

“I thank Vikki Vogel and everyone at Heartland for bringing me back to the Midwest.” Hysaw stated, “If I hadn’t been in Iowa I would have never had this opportunity.”  He’s worked a multitude of well-known horses including CH Spike Leigh, CH Radiant Success, and CH Hear The Music as well as several world champions over the years. ”I’m looking forward to starting some of the Karen’s prospects here at Kokopelli.” Hysaw said “She’s got some nice broodmares and has some really nice colts in the pasture.”

“Having Dave join us is such a blessing. We are thrilled to be a part of the growing Iowa Saddlebred community!” said Karen.

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