Christi grew up in Boise, Idaho and fell in love with horses at the age of four. As a Boise native, she was involved with the equine 4-H community for ten years. Christi graduated from Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and is currently seeking a Masters Degree in Public Administration at Boise State University. Christi became a PATH Intl. Certified Instructor in December 2014. Throughout her life, she has had a passion for helping people and caring for horses. With Ride for Joy, she does both.
Heather grew up in the Treasure Valley riding and playing a variety of sports. She spent a year studying Equine Management in Kentucky before returning home, eventually graduating with degrees in Liberal Studies (B.A.) and Community Counseling (M.S.) from Northwest Nazarene University.
She spent several years working at counseling agencies and the State of Idaho, earning her status as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) along the way. Heather worked as a mental health professional in the EAGALA model for a year and was a Lead Facilitator at a challenge course for two years. Her work generally focused on struggling youth but she also had the opportunity to work with adults and veterans in multiple settings.
Heather joined the RFJ team in 2016 as the Equine Assistant but was quickly promoted when the Program Manager position became available. She hopes to use her extensive mental health and experiential therapy experience to add a mental health track to the programming at RFJ. She became a Certified Instructor with PATH, Intl. in 2018.
Riding continues to bring joy to Heather’s life. She performs in and coaches drill teams, provides private riding lessons often focused on bareback and bridleless skills, and has recently returned to English riding in the hopes of teaching her horse to jump.
Heather lives in New Plymouth with her husband, Travis, who is also an avid rider. They recently added a daughter to their family who they hope will grow to love the menagerie of pets on their mini country farm.
Lauren started volunteering with Ride For Joy in 2009 as a side walker, horse leader, and also helped on special donation projects. In 2013, she was offered a staff position as Assistant Equine Manager and began handling more of the RFJ operations as the Volunteer and Office Assistant. In April 2016, she assumed her current position of Volunteer Manager and is currently working to become an Instructor-in-Training.
Lauren grew up on a farm and began riding horses before she could walk. She has experience in rodeo competitions, drill team, and field trials. For two years, Lauren worked with kids with Dravet syndrome, autism and other disorders through a developmental therapy program in Meridian.
She is very committed to serving at Ride for Joy and recently added Instructor-in-Training to her list of titles.
Brandi joined Ride for Joy in 2017 after being courted for the position for almost a year. She stepped into her new role with ease and soon added Instructor-in-Training to her title.
Brandi comes to Ride for Joy with a wealth of equine experience. She spent her youth riding in the EhCapa Bareback Riders and competing in rodeo queen contests, holding the title of Caldwell Night Rodeo Queen in 1995.
Since 2002, Brandi has been instructing the riders of EhCapa, using her exceptional knowledge to continue a 60 plus year tradition of teaching youth horsemanship skills and entertaining audiences throughout the Northwest.
Brandi has been a member of the Snake River Stampeders Night Light Drill Team off and on since its inception in 1997, riding with the team at both the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and the Olympics in Salt Lake City. She became the Assistant Drill Instructor in 2017.
Additionally, Brandi is an Accredited Instructor and Trainer through the Richard Shrake Resistance Free Riding and Training Method.
Brandi lives in Nampa with her husband, Ben, helping to manage the Krajnik family farm, which boasts a variety of crops as well as cattle. Ben’s son has three children, making Brandi a very young but doting grandma. Brandi’s adult daughter is pursuing her future.
In her limited spare time, Brandi enjoys being active in the Nampa Historical Society, pottery, beading, old western movies, country swing dancing, watching Ben rope, and collecting red, white and blue items.
Cindy joined Ride for Joy as a volunteer in the summer of 2016. She was raised in a family that has always volunteered and loves doing it. She has served on several non-profit boards, been involved with 4-H, and with Therapy Dogs Inc.
It has been a childhood goal of hers to be a part of a therapeutic riding program so she is very passionate about Ride for Joy. She is very excited to be volunteering, serving on the board, and acting as the board secretary.
PATH intl. certified instructor
Sandy began riding horses through Pony Club at age 15. Around that time, she started volunteering for a therapeutic riding program in Southern California.
In 2004, Sandy obtained her certification as a Registered Instructor with PATH, Intl. She joined Ride for Joy in 2014, bringing years of experience at two other therapeutic riding facilities.
Her educational background is in Recreational Therapy and she likes to practice what she preaches through a dedication to health and recreation. Sandy enjoys cooking, hiking, snowboarding, gardening, camping, triathlons, and, of course, riding.
Kristylee grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii until moving to the mountains of western North Carolina in high school. Since graduating from Western Carolina University with a B.S. in Recreational Therapy, she has moved all around the US, with her favorite and longest-term stint being in Alaska. She moved to Idaho in November 2017 and found RFJ just a couple months later in February of 2018. She has loved it so much that she has no plan of moving again anytime soon!
Kristylee grew up with all sorts of animals and has been riding since she can remember. As much as she has always loved horses, it wasn't until her high school senior community service hours at a therapeutic riding stables that she knew she needed to work with animals and children permanently. During her first two hours at the stable, she got to witness an eight year old boy on the autism spectrum get on his horse and say the first word his mom had ever heard. “Fun!" he said.
Between her experiences working with kids with emotional and behavioral disabilities, her passion for seeing joy awakened in their hearts, and having a history with and respect for those who serve in our armed forces, Kristylee is thrilled to be a part of the RFJ family that reflects all three. And she can't wait to finish up her PATH certification and become an instructor.
Chris grew up in the Midwest, but recently relocated to Idaho from Northern California. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Drake University and completed a M.A. in Management from Webster University. Chris brings marketing and business experience gained from the private sector as well as a government agency. She had the unique opportunity of contributing to the growth and development of the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary located in Folsom, California.
She had many roles over her 15 years of employment with the zoo including developing community partnerships, creating a corporate sponsorship program, generating donations, boosting admissions and various marketing tasks.
Chris has been with her husband over 40 years and has a daughter living in Portland. She enjoys trail riding her horse, hiking with her miniature donkey and playing pickleball.
She is excited to contribute her experiences to RFJ!
PATH, Intl. certified instructor
Originally from Boise, Gretchen began volunteering with the Boise Community Special Olympics equestrian team in junior high and loved helping the team have fun while spending time with horses and learning to ride. In college, she volunteered with Washington State University’s Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship program, where she worked with a variety of programs that provide horsemanship and riding lessons to riders with special needs, veterans, at-risk teenagers and families.
Since becoming a PATH certified Instructor in 2016, Gretchen has volunteered with Ride for Joy and the Idaho Youth Ranch, and she became a Ride for Joy instructor in 2018.
Gretchen holds a B.S. in Education, a B.A. in English, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. She teaches English and enjoys riding, running, skiing, gardening, yoga, and spending time in Idaho’s mountains.
Volunteer barn Assistant
Rich is a six year veteran of the United States Marine Corp, serving in Vietnam from 1965-1966. He went on to retire as a police officer after more than 20 years of service. Unable to sit idle for too long, he took up driving charter bus, mostly for school sporting events, before moving to Idaho.
Rich joined RFJ in 2017 as a rider in the veteran program and a volunteer. He quickly made a name for himself as an energetic and vocal supporter of the program, talking with anyone and everyone about the benefits RFJ has brought into his life and offering to help everywhere possible. Its often said that Rich would live at the barn if permission were granted!
In 2018, Rich was offered a new position tailored to his skills and abilities. He acts as the barn greeter, ensuring volunteers and riders get a smile at the door and are ready for the tasks of the day, as well as running the gates during lessons and whatever else staff can throw at him.
Rich says, "Working with children and helping veterans is a passion that has drawn me to Ride For Joy. That and my lifetime love of horses."