FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – From a very early age, Jackie Dunham has been involved with taking care of animals.
“My dad built the Piper (Kansas) Heritage Veterinary Clinic,” she said. “I started working at the clinic when I was five years old. So, animal caretaking goes back for me quite a ways.”
Fast forward to the end of 2021 and she became director of the Fort Leavenworth Stables Activity.
“I started working at Fort Leavenworth as a kennelman and an animal care specialist for the fox hounds,” she said. “I love the connection with history, with this being the last military hunt, and I rode with the hunt. I was a whip-in-training so for me, horses and canines have always been a part of my life. It was just a natural segway. I got a promotion to come to the barns, so it allows me to enjoy everything that I love.”
The stables currently house 16 horses. The horses are owned by the patrons. Servicemembers, retirees and Department of Defense civilians can use the facility.
“We take pride in trying to accommodate all breeds, anything from a miniature to an 18-hand warmblood or thoroughbred,” she said.
As for her position, she stays busy as the sole employee of the stables but is helped by several volunteers.
“We do welcome volunteers,” she said. “We have a volunteer program where people can contact us and we find out what their interests are. They could do general work around the stables or we possibly link them with a patron to help with individual horses. Our volunteers do help a lot.”
Fort Leavenworth is one of just 12 Army bases around the country to offer an equestrian program or horse stable.
The Fort Leavenworth Stables are a private boarding facility with two large historic barns. The facility offers stalls, paddocks, an outdoor arena, an indoor arena, five pastures and miles of wooded trails.
Construction of the two barns began in 1905. They were originally built to house horses and mules for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The animals pulled the equipment that USACE used in their projects.
For more information on boarding or volunteering, visit https://leavenworth.armymwr.com/programs/stables-and-horses.