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.
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.
Alycia has always found herself drawn to animals and their powerfully sensitive nature. In
second grade she began attending a summer horse camp where she fell in love with the
connections earned between horse and human. She soon joined a show barn, training and
competing in show jumping until her sophomore year of high school when she took a break from
riding to focus on her education.
Without horses, Alycia felt a large part of herself was missing. She began volunteering at RAD
in the summer of 2018 and immediately became captivated with the therapeutic riding
community. RAD became integral to her life as an unparalleled environment for learning,
mindfulness, and healing.
Alycia is completing her undergraduate degree in marine biology – pursuing animal husbandry
and research. During the summer of 2021, she interned over 300 hours at RAD training for her
PATH Intl. instructor certification. As of September 2022 she is now a PATH Certified
Therapeutic Riding Instructor!
Alycia is immensely grateful for the privileges which allowed her to work closely with horses
from such a young age. RAD has provided endless opportunities to use these privileges to give
back to the community. She is honored to practice the magic of therapeutic riding in a barn she
considers her second home.
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.
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.”
Horses have been Sam’s favorite animal as long as she can remember. She always found
them to be calming caring creatures that she wanted to love. When she was old enough her
parents took her to an overnight horse camp during the summer. She was there every summer for
8 years, with each year her love for horses only grew. One Christmas her grandmother took her
to her first horseback riding lesson, and she was hooked ever since. Sam’s main sport was
swimming, she swam competitively for 15 years with being able to cross train through learning
hunter/jumpers in her horseback riding lessons. Later in her swim career and throughout college
Sam coached 6–18 year olds competitive swimming for 5 years.
In 2020, Sam fell upon Ride Above Disability as a volunteer. Sam fell in love with the
philosophy and community. Even with all the hours of volunteering, Sam felt like she was
missing something. She wanted to join the RAD family as an instructor. Sam wanted to share her
love and passion of horses and her knowledge of physical therapy with the students at RAD.
Sam graduated from San Diego State University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science
Degree, Kinesiology Pre-Physical Therapy with the goal of attending Doctor of Physical
Therapy school. After Graduate school, Sam wants to become certified in Hippotherapy and
continue to work in the field of equine therapy with more of physical therapy approach to
continue working with the two things she loves most: horses and kids!
Sam is so happy to be a part of this amazing program that brings joy to kids faces daily. “RAD is like Disneyland for horses and our students, it is literally the happiest place on Earth,
and like Vegas where you never want to leave.”
Jesus has always felt he had a natural connection to horses. Although he did not grow up around horses, he’s always appreciated horsemanship and always dreamed of having his own ranch. Jesus was born and raised in San Diego, a US Marine Corps veteran, and believes community involvement is really important. For many years, Jesus has been involved with various local youth organizations as a mentor and big brother. Working with youth and helping them grow and realize their potential is something Jesus is passionate about.
His first appreciation for horses was when he started trail riding in his early college years.
Throughout his travels, visiting various ranches across the West Coast to the Mid-West, his admiration and appreciation for horsemanship grew.
In 2018, after visiting Ride Above Disability for the first time, he was hooked and knew he had found a home. He was amazed with the work at RAD, and was thrilled to be a part of it. Through his natural bond with horses, Jesus believes that true horsemanship begins out of the saddle. The combination of working with youth and equine therapy, growing and helping others reach their potential, is what Jesus looks forward to each moment spent at the ranch.
Jesus strives to increase his equine knowledge every day and is passionate about teaching others the value of horsemanship. He’s also passionate about keeping the cowboy culture alive and sharing it with the younger generations.
Kate took every opportunity to surround herself with horses when she was young. Riding lessons started at age 8, and then she went on to attend horse camp in Upstate New York for 3 years with the goal of learning more about horsemanship and the great outdoors.
During high school, Kate started working as a Teacher’s Assistant at a Preschool where she was able to gain experience in caring for young children. She also worked at a local pet store tending to different types of animals, and spent her summers as a lifeguard at her town pool. It was there that she began teaching swimming lessons to children with disabilities, and discovered that she had a knack for conducting play-based learning activities for students in such a way that is inclusive for all. She dreamed of finding a way to bring her two passions together – caring for both horses and people alike.
Kate went on to attend San Diego State University where she studied Psychology with a minor in Counseling and Social Change. She went on trail rides on the weekends and started looking for opportunities to volunteer at a barn nearby. A few years after graduating, Kate started volunteering at Ride Above Disability and hasn’t looked back since. She is absolutely thrilled to be an instructor at RAD now, where she is able to incorporate all of what she has learned, knowing that she is surrounded by fellow instructors and students that share the same love for bringing horses and people together.
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!
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.
We are very excited to announce a boot-scootin' fun time! Come join us for our 5th Annual Barn Dance Fundraiser on Saturday May 6, 2023. Presented by the Donegan Burns Foundation!
This event brings awareness to our community about our program and all the proceeds benefit the students and horses. In the past, our Barn Dance fundraisers have helped the program raise over $25,000. Which is huge for us as this is our biggest event of the year.
The event will include music, dancing, dinner, silent auctions, raffles, parent speeches, great wine and beer and more fun to be had by all! Each ticket includes dinner, dancing and one drink. We now have table options available and unlimited drink stamps.
This is an event you don't want to miss, we look forward to seeing you all there! (this event is 21 and up, dress is casual/western wear). Tickets are now on sale!
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