Utah State University Equine Student Breaking Barriers

Apr 26, 2018

Jack Charlesworth with his wife Kayla and five month old daughter Annabeth.
Credit Jack Charlesworth

One Utah State University student in the Equine Science Program has unique challenges, but he is changing the way people like him work with horses. This student is not letting any challenges get in the way of his love for horses and life.

Jack Charlesworth from Pleasant Grove, Utah knows what it means to get bucked off and get back on.

“At four months old I got a spinal infection which left me paralyzed from the chest down,” Jack said.

Have you let that stop you?

“No, I don’t. I hunt, I fish, I’m trying to be on the paralympic archery team. I do whatever I want.”

That includes starting a family with his five month old daughter Annabeth and wife Kayla.

“I met her at Cal Ranch and I was in there quite a bit.”

To buy stuff or to see her?


Now Jack is helping USU equine researchers help people like him care for their horses.

His wheelchair, which was manufactured by the USU Assistive Technology Lab, has a hydraulic system that helps him do basic jobs like grooming. It’s also equipped with wider tires for the arena so he can train the horses. The arena sand has chopped up sneakers in it. That helps Jack’s wheelchair move around the arena a little easier.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the program, being able to make it more accessible for other people to go out and work the horses instead of just being stuck on the sidelines watching,” Jack said.

Judy Smith is the Equine and Human Sciences Director. She said Jack’s program is one of the first of its kind.

“With Jack’s internship he is going to explore inclusion and accessibility opportunities for future students who maybe thought, ‘This couldn't be for me. I couldn't pursue a career in this,’” Smith said.

Now Jack is blazing the trail for himself and for others who love working with horses.