Our Team

The JoyRide Team is the engine behind “making the impossible possible” for our clients. The staff is a caring group invested in the success of the clients and horses, and they use the highest levels of professionalism in their work. Riding instructors are certified through PATH Intl. as Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors (CTRI) and therapists are credentialed through the American Hippotherapy Association as Hippotherapy Clinical Specialists (HPCS). Our day program instructors come from a variety of backgrounds, and provide high quality instruction to all their clients.

Director of Operations

EMMA LEAN MS, PT, HPCS

Director of Operations

Physical Therapist

Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist

PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Registered Therapist

Emma has a Masters degree in Physical Therapy with a biomechanical and neuororthopedic rehabilitation focus. She is an American Hippotherapy Association clinical specialist, PATH Intl. registered therapist and PATH Intl. certified riding instructor. She is also a certified Pilates instructor. Her passion is in the integration of hippotherapy,  biomechanics and  Pilates within the rehabilitation setting in order to maximize functional activity and sports performance. Emma has ridden horses all her adult life and continues her passion for anatomy by training in Equine massage therapy to keep our horses in good physical health along with our riders.

elean@joyridecenter.org

Administrative

Staff

PEGGY WAGNER

Office Manager

Founding Member

Peggy graduated from the University of Texas with a BS in Elementary Education. She taught elementary, Jr. high and pre-school for 10 years. She spent 25 years as a volunteer staff member of SIRE, Therapeutic Horsemanship, serving as a board member for 16 years and receiving the Lifetime Humanitarian Award in 2008. She was a volunteer staff and board member at JoyRide until 2017, when she took the job of Office Manager, handling billing, database management and other administrative tasks. Peggy has owned and ridden horses for most of her adult life. She currently is owned by Nugget, a palomino gelding. Peggy enjoys attempting dressage, getting away to the Texas hill country with husband, Roger, and visiting family in Colorado.

pwagner@joyridecenter.org

TERRI NORRIS

Development & PR Manager

Terri was born and raised in Alabama and is an Avid Roll Tide Fan! Having worked in the nonprofit world from Wisconsin to Texas, Terri comes to us with over 15 years of extensive experience in grant writing along with the planning of fundraising events. Her love and passion for JoyRide is second only to that for her husband Harry, a 34 year Special forces LEO, her 3 children, her 2 bonus children, and her rescue Dobermans. Terri and her husband reside in Houston.

fundraising@joyridecenter.org

CRAIG ARNY

Volunteer Coordinator

Craig grew up in Houston with a love of both horses and volunteering. He discovered the combination of both at SIRE in 2002, where he volunteered for a few years until JoyRide was founded in 2009. He has been a volunteer at JoyRide since the beginning. After being laid-off from his corporate job as a staff and account manager, the opportunity to join JoyRide’s staff as the volunteer coordinator presented itself in 2019. Craig is married to artist Sam Sartorius, and lives in Magnolia with a rescue Great Dane and one cat. He is also a doting father and grandfather.

volunteer@joyridecenter.org

Horsemanship

Programs

NELLIE SCHMIDT

Equine Manager

Equine Trainer

PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor

After growing up with horses in the Texas Hill Country, Nellie took her love of people and horses to Asbury University in Lexington, Kentucky, where she double majored in Equine Studies and Psychology, focusing on Equine Facilitated Mental Health. While in Kentucky, Nellie participated in the school’s Police Mount training program and taught therapeutic riding lessons for class credit. Over the years, she has worked under reining trainers like Jesse & Stacy Westfall, interned at a Thoroughbred Re-schooling center and spent many years riding on various drill teams. Nellie earned her PATH Intl. Certification in 2018. When not at JoyRide she can be found out at the barn with her Arabian Cross mare, Scout and rescue pup, Cap.

nschmidt@joyridecenter.org

LEE RUONAVAARA PT, DPT, HPCS

Physical Therapist

Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist

PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Registered Therapist

Lee is a Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist and PATH Intl. Registered Therapist. She has also been a PATH Intl. Instructor since 2004. She has been the Texas Liason to the American Hippotherapy Association since 2009. Lee has presented at the Regional LSTN Conference and at National American Hippotherapy Conferences. In addition to hippotherapy, Lee has experience and training in neurorehabilitation, sensory integration and wound care. She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2016 and Masters Degree in physical therapy in 1998 from Texas Women’s University, and  a BS in psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University (1992). Lee has loved horses all her life and continues to enjoy a good ride any day of the week!

lee@joyridecenter.org

MINDY WIPER 

PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Mindy started riding horses 29 years ago in Conroe, Texas.  She studied and competed in Dressage, Hunter/Jumpers, and Eventing, and has been teaching riding since 2000. Mindy graduated from Texas A&M where she rode and competed with the Texas A&M equestrian team pre-title 9. After graduating she received her American Riding Instructors Certification, Level II Dressage and Eventing. Mindy then changed gears and began a career in Outdoor Education, completing a semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School and going on to teach science and work as a mounted patrol ranger in Yosemite National Park. After moving back to Texas, Mindy came to JoyRide in 2018 and earned her PATH Intl. Instructor certification. She also teaches at other well respected riding programs in the area.  Mindy has 2 horses, Aurora and Captain Bendanie, and is a certified Yoga instructor, Wilderness First Responder, and Certified Professional LifeCoach.   

mwiper@joyridecenter.org

STEPHEN FREEZE

Facility Assistant

Originally, from Aransas Pass, Stephen is a dad, horse owner and all-round animal lover. After graduating from Texas Bible Institute, Stephen worked in the oilfield before becoming ranch manager for a Texas facility. His lifelong love of horses and wide range of experience, including tractor and electrical work, along with plumbing repair make him a perfect fit as JoyRIde’s Facility Assistant.

sfreeze@joyridecenter.org

Day

Programs

JEN BENNETT

Day Program Manager

Certified Teacher in Special Education and Science

Jen has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biological research and a background in medical research, psychology, and philosophy. She has been teaching science and special education since 2013. She is also on the Board of Directors of an animal rescue and has been active in horse and dog rehabilitation for over 15 years. Her passion is in teaching prevocational and vocational skills to young adults with special needs to help facilitate the transition from school to the workforce in the community.

jbennett@joyridecenter.org

ALICIA CAMPBELL

Day Program Mentor

Alicia came to us as an intern student from Lone Star Montgomery College, where she volunteered in both the riding and day programs. She graduated in 2019 with an Associate's Degree in Human Services and plans to continue her education to become a certified special education teacher. Once Alicia completed her hours as an intern, she was offered a permanent position working in the day program and has enjoyed every minute of it. When she isn't working at JoyRide, Alicia enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as taking care of her many many animals, which include 3 cats, 4 dogs and 2 bunny rabbits! (Fondly referred to as the Campbell Zoo)

acampbell@joyridecenter.org

AMANDA WEBER

Day Program Mentor

Amanda graduated from Klein High School in 2009. That fall Amanda began riding lessons at JoyRide. In recognition of her skills and commitment she trained as a volunteer as both sidewalker and a horse handler. Once the day program was formed, Amanda began working with the young adults as a mentor. Amanda provides individual assistance to several Prep participants and supports the teacher with instructional activities. Amanda, an avid equestrian competitor has won many trophies, belt buckles, and ribbons galore as an Equestrians with Disabilities Rider in Quarter Horse shows. Still committed to learning, Amanda is currently taking reining lessons. She loves taking care of her barn with her 3 horses, Forrest, Bella, and Bodemeister.

aweber@joyridecenter.org

Board of

Directors

Jake Leissner

President

Bill McDonald 

Vice President

Roger Wagner 

Treasurer

Steve Rohr

Member

Tammy Stewart 

Member

Rick Hornsby

Member

© 2020 by JoyRide Center Inc.

JoyRide Center Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) 

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