Wayne T. Jackson is a retired US Marine and cofounder of Ride Above Disability. Wayne grew up on a small farm outside Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. It was on this farm that Wayne’s passion for horses was sparked. By age 13. Wayne had begun breaking and training horses. Horses continue to be a large part of Wayne’s life. In 1994, Wayne left home for the United States Marine Corps. His twenty-year career was long and varied with Wayne serving a variety of jobs and locations.
In 2010, Wayne began volunteering at Helen Woodward Animal Clinic’s Therapy Riding Center. Here Wayne met the two women who would become central to his life in therapy riding, Allie Sarnataro and Katie Cram. Together these three would work or volunteer at several different therapy riding centers in and around the Greater San Diego area. These experiences formed the foundational principles upon which RAD was formed.
Wayne holds a Bachelor’s of Public Administration from National University and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Point Loma Nazarene University. His graduate and post-graduate fieldwork consists of lecturing at local universities on nonprofit governance and fundraising, cultural diversity and sensitivity training, and mentorship. Wayne has also served as a consultant and advisor to other nonprofit boards and leadership councils.
When Katie was 8 she got her first pony and joined the United States Pony Club. There she learned how to ride, care for and maintain horses, and teach the difference horses can make in the lives of others. She competed locally and nationally in 3 day eventing, show jumping and dressage. Once out of Pony Club, Katie dabbled in western disciplines such as western dressage, and horsemanship challenges but her true passion remains with eventing.
In 2005 Katie began working at Helen Woodward Animal Center cleaning stalls. Within 6 months, she began teaching therapeutic riding lessons and became PATH Intl certified in 2006. While working at Helen Woodward, Katie met both Wayne and Allie, co-founders of Ride Above. She also gained more in depth knowledge on managing the care and training of therapeutic riding horses instead of sport horses. In 2012, Katie began working at PoVa Therapeutic Riding Center, expanding her knowledge about running a therapeutic riding center and learning what it takes to make it successful. In 2014 Katie, Wayne and Allie opened the doors to Ride Above where she is able to share her passion for horses. She is a big believer in always learning more and educating yourself, in 2017 Katie became a PATH Mentor to train upcoming therapeutic riding instructors.
Allie’s passion for horses began when she was very young. At 12, Allie began taking riding lessons. She competed in the local jumping shows for a few years and then changed disciplines to dressage riding. Allie soon became a working student, helping and teaching others to care for and tack their horses.
At 16, Allie began volunteering for SPUR Therapeutic Riding Center in New Jersey. On her first day volunteering, Allie knew this was something she wanted to be involved with for a very long time. Allie continued to volunteer with SPUR for 8 years and was also camp director for the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s horseback riding program.
In 2008, Allie moved to California and began volunteering and eventually working at a therapeutic riding center in San Diego. Here she met fellow friend and colleague Katie Cram who shared the same passion for horses and therapeutic riding as she did. In 2010, Allie began her journey to become a PATH Intl. certified riding instructor and passed her certification that same year. In 2014, Katie, Allie, and fellow horse and therapeutic riding enthusiast Wayne Jackson, finally decided it was time to open a new therapeutic riding center for the community. Allie is always looking for ways to further her knowledge and help grow the therapeutic riding community, in 2017 she became a PATH Mentor to help teach others with a passion for therapeutic riding.
Growing up Rebecca always had a love for horses. When she was little she went to pony camp and read books on anything related to horses. She spent a few weeks each summer going on trail rides and learning to care for a horse but always wanted more horse and riding time.
In college, she majored in Psychology and Neuroscience with research focused on designing treatments on children with brain injuries. After graduating college she moved to the east coast to be a caretaker for a child with a brain injury. While caring for him she was introduced to therapeutic riding and began to see the many benefits.
After moving to San Diego, she quickly started volunteering at BETH for a year until taking a hiatus. Over the next 2 years, she spent her time working with kids with special needs in research and clinical settings, but she knew something was missing. In 2016, she reached out to RAD to combine her love for horses with her passion for working with kids with special needs. Rebecca is currently an instructor in training and is working towards her PATH Intl Certification!
Cyndie’s affinity for horses began after experiencing the pony rides her grand-dad took her on when she was a young child. From there, she grew up “horse crazy” and was fortunate to be able to ride and care for several different horses over the years, eventually owning a chestnut ex-race horse named D’lite. Taking lessons, jumping and trail riding around Poway became a favorite past time. Cyndie met Katie, Allie, Wayne, Mary and Amanda while volunteering at another therapeutic riding center. Inspired by RAD’s mission, it was natural for her to want to follow the team and be a part of the dream the founders had for RAD.
She may be passionate about horses, but she also has a heart for organization. Cyndie keeps the office running smoothly and provides administrative assistance to the Executive Director, Assistant Director and Program Director as well as lesson support working with the students and horses.
“I am so thankful to be a part of RAD. The dedication this team has for the students, their families, the volunteers, and the horses is a true example of love. I am inspired each week by the progress and pure joy I see in each student because of the selfless efforts of the staff and the volunteers of this organization.”
Taylor always loved horses. She started riding when she was 8 years old for about 8 years. She had to stop halfway through high school and was heartbroken. At that time, she started joining clubs at school such as Best Buddies and began working with kids with special needs. Taylor absolutely loved spending her last couple years of high school working with kids with disabilities.
After graduating from high school in 2012, Taylor decided to pursue a Bachelors in Child and Adolescent Development. During this time she got a job as a Behavioral Interventionist at Aces in April of 2017 working with children with autism. She works with a variety of children using ABA therapy to improve social skills, independence and reduce behavioral problems. She loves her job and it is so rewarding to see the progress the kids make.
A year after starting the job at Aces, Taylor realized how much she missed having horses in her life, and discovered Ride Above Disability. She started volunteering in 2018 and was very excited to be at a place that was a combination of her two passions. After a year and a half of volunteering, she is now training to be an instructor! Taylor is very excited to be a part of the RAD team and is looking forward to bringing her knowledge of ABA to therapeutic riding!
As a young girl Amanda had a passion for horses, with posters covering every wall in her bedroom. For Amanda’s 10th birthday, her parents surprised her with riding lessons and her passion grew from there. By the time Amanda was 15 she was an assistant instructor, and by 16, the camp director at the barn where she was riding. After graduating high school she moved to San Diego for college, and took a year off from riding and teaching.
Amanda realized quickly that horses were missing from her life, and began volunteering at PoVa Therapeutic Riding Center. Within two months, Amanda started teaching lessons and her passion for teaching riding lessons had been rekindled. There Amanda met Wayne, Katie, Allie, and Mary. When Amanda heard about the creation of Ride Above and the plan for the program, it was an obvious choice to join the team in doing what she loves so much.
Samantha has had a passion for horses and helping others for as long as she can remember. She grew up very familiar with the special needs community, as her mom, a Speech Language Pathologist, had a private practice in the house.
Samantha’s first real horse experience was a trail ride in Lake Tahoe at the age of 7, and she knew then that horses would always be an important part of her life. Her parents supported her interest in horses by taking her to horse summer camps, weekly lessons and investing in her equestrian education. She was a member of Saratoga Pony Club throughout high school and competed in the California Dressage Society Junior/Young Rider Championships, winning her division in 2005.
In 2008 she moved to San Diego from Northern California to attend San Diego State University. During her time in college she won two championships and was reserve champion in the United States Dressage Federation regional championships. After graduating in May 2012 with a bachelors degree in Anthropology, Samantha was looking for a career path that was fun, fulfilling, and something she could wake up every morning looking forward to. She completed Equinology’s Equine Body Worker (“sports massage” for horses) course, and became a certified Equine Body Worker in early 2013. That same year, she discovered Therapeutic Horseback Riding and began teaching at Partners Therapeutic Horsemanship. In 2014 she completed her PATH instructor certification, and in 2018 completed the PATH mentor course so she can help others as they work toward their certifications.
Samantha is so excited to be joining the team at RAD and help our riders reach their goals, while having fun riding and learning about horses!
Ailed first came across horses in Jalisco, Mexico, where her family is from. One of her uncles is very successful in Charro Riding, and she was impressed with the connection between a horse and a human. Her curiosity led to a lot of late-night research and decided to discover a new world and so she looked for places to work with horses. Most places require horse experience and one of those job-hunting phone calls led her to therapeutic riding.
Ailed has been volunteering at Therapy Centers for 4 years now and has fallen in love with Therapeutic Riding. She has been at RAD for 3 of those years and decided to take her interest even further and become an instructor. Ailed is currently working towards her PATH certification and hopes to achieve it within the next year.
With her interest in helping others, she dreams of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. After graduating in the Spring of 2021 with her Bachelors’s in Public Health, and a Minor in Sustainability from San Diego State University Ailed is currently working on her school applications for DNP. Her experience at RAD has allowed her to become very observant, patient, open-minded, agile, and much more. These qualities have helped her in her everyday life and it’s hopeful for her to say that years and years from today she will hopefully have her own horses to help provide therapy as a health professional and provide a different perspective.
Bonnie was hooked on horses after a trail ride at the age of 7. At 14, she got her first horse, a 3yr old Arabian Quarter Horse cross named Maja. She trained Maja with the help of her riding instructors and owned her for 30 years. They were together when Bonnie went to college, got married, had 2 babies, and for all their military moves.
Bonnie went to college in Florida on an Air Force ROTC nursing scholarship where she met her husband Scott, who was also in the ROTC program. Bonnie had a lot of different experiences in military nursing, but her favorite was pediatrics. She served for 6 years before staying home to raise her boys.
As they moved across the nation, Bonnie shared her love of horses with anyone who would let her. She taught her boys to ride, their friends, her friends, her kids’ babysitters…anyone who expressed curiosity about horses. She has ridden Western, Hunter/Jumper, and Dressage, but her favorite has always been Dressage. She believes a holistic horsemanship approach is important when teaching others about the amazing partnership people can develop with horses.
Bonnie moved to CA when Scott retired from the AF in 2018. She worked as a home healthcare nurse for children and adults and also started volunteering at RAD in 2018. This is where she met her new horse Vega, a retired therapeutic riding horse. In 2021, Bonnie decided to take a break from nursing and pursue her love of teaching others to ride. She feels honored to be an instructor at RAD, where she can continue to share her passion for horses in such a positive environment. She believes it’s the best of everything…kids, horses, and the beautiful outdoors.