Ride of His Life

Story by: Linda Geist
Photos by: Kyle Spradley

Zane Volkmann

Zane Volkmann is a 19-year-old horse trainer in New Franklin,  MO. He attends North Eastern Oklahoma A&M College but when not at school,  he works with horses as a trainer and ferrier to help out folks in Howard County with their horses and mules.

Zane Volkmann

Zane works with Pearl, a mule owned by the Wayne and Micki Frey. The sometimes-stubborn mule needs an occasional attitude adjustment by Zane.

Zane Volkmann

Zane carries an anvil from his truck to the horse arena. He uses the timeless tool to help reshape and fix horseshoes.

AgrAbility helps injured horse trainer return to the saddle.

NEW FRANKLIN, Mo. - Zane Volkmann always wanted to be a horse trainer. A serious accident weeks before his senior year of high school slowed his gait, but it didn’t throw him. He cinched up his saddle and began the ride of his life. “You just pick your lip up off the ground and go ride,” he said.

Volkmann fell 9 feet on his head at a livestock center in August   2012. Young riders working cattle there enjoy riding horses under   overhead pipes jutting from the barn and swinging from them.

He’d done it dozens of times before, but this time the momentum   propelled him into the air and hurled him to the ground. He suffered   three brain bleeds and a broken back.

Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Agricultural Systems Management instructor and director of the Missouri AgrAbility Project, began work with his family immediately.

AgrAbility connects injured farmers and ranchers with resources so   that they can remain on the farm or in the saddle. Resources include   referrals to and coordination of services with other agencies, financial   assistance for adaptive devices, and ongoing moral support and   education.

The Missouri AgrAbility Project is part of MU Extension; the MU   College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and the Brain Injury   Association of Missouri Inc., in cooperation with other partners.

A New Zane Faces New Challenges

Volkmann stayed out of the saddle for six months – “the longest six   months of my life” – as he and his family learned to adapt to the “new   Zane.”

Despite challenges, Volkmann graduated on time, fifth in his class.  He recently completed his freshman year of equine ranch management   studies at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.

Funkenbusch advises him as part of his summer internship at a Howard   County ranch. She sets goals with him to lay the groundwork to develop a   business as horse trainer and farrier. She also encourages him to avoid a second injury by wearing a helmet when riding an unfamiliar horse or on difficult terrain.

“AgrAbility helps you in every aspect of your injury,” Volkmann says.  “They drive me forward. Just because you have a brain injury, it   doesn’t mean you can’t perform at your full potential.”

“The passion of farmers is our passion,” Funkenbusch said. “We want   that farmer to stay in the saddle of their horse or in their tractor   seat.”

Each morning, the 19-year-old leaves for the nearby Lazy B Arena   after finishing chores at his home. He chats with owner Bart Fuhlage   while cleaning stalls, watering horses and checking tack.


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About this Story

Campus: UMC
Key words: Agriculture, Health, MU Campus, UM System,
County: Howard