About Us

Kristen Barley, owner

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Kristen has worked with horses for 32 years. She has interacted with and loved animals her entire life. Her education, her family’s business, and her experience in health, wellness, along with her husband’s experience in occupational therapy have paved the way for her to start building a vision all her own.  

During her school years, Kristen participated in equine 4H, leading her to earn certification from Eitan Beth-Halachmy, the founder of light-hand horsemanship and cowboy dressage. With a passion for health and wellness, she graduated from the University of Louisville with a B.S. in Health Promotion and Human Performance. Following college, she worked at KORT Rehab and the University of Louisville, developing a strong background in physical therapy, rehabilitation, and athletic training. 

Her diverse career background includes personal training, wellness and health coaching, rehabilitating, and in the medical field, working as a physician’s procedural assistant. In the corporate health setting, Kristen used her love of helping others to guide employees to proper diet and exercise habits. She also launched several corporate health and wellness initiatives. Her vision, now, is to bring both animals and humans together to help them achieve mental health wellness. 

Eventually, Kristen and her husband began growing their family and animals started filling major space in their day-to-day life. With her equine education on hand, she began working alongside her mother, Debbie Dickey, at Twin Oaks Farm. She trained horses, taught riding lessons, and led and formulated summer youth camps. Forever letting her passions drive her, she also developed equine exercise programs. Because she was spending time closer to home, Kristen was able to fulfill her childhood dream of having a cow. And not just any cow, one that she could ride.

“So much of who I am comes from

my relationship with animals.”

Enter, Annie – the cutest bovine you ever saw. Soon after Annie arrived, Kristen started growing her very own backyard paradise. From pigs and goats to mini ponies and – of course – cows. She also gained a new passion for miniatures animals and rehabilitating those in need; whether it be those with dwarfism defects, or animals needing proper diet and nutrition, or love and companionship.

“As time passed, I dreamed of creating an animal-friendly environment that my kids could learn and grow from. So much of who I am comes from the environment and responsibilities that I grew up in,” Kristen says. “But as that dream came true, I wanted more. Seeing how my family benefited from animals, I wanted the opportunity to help others grow, heal and flourish through the same kinds of experiences.”

Kristen aspires to use Meaningful Menagerie as a therapeutic animal space where people can get back in touch with their mind, body, and soul.