Female Equine Industry Trailblazers Contest Winners

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Horse Illustrated chose the following from many great entries sent in by readers nominating their favorite female equine industry trailblazers.

Alyssa Mathews

Alyssa Mathews - Female Equine Industry Trailblazers Contest Winners
Photo Courtesy Rhonda Engness

A Trailblazer is defined as one that blazes a trail to guide others. Let me share with you why Alyssa Mathews is a Trailblazer. Her heart has followed her love of horses at all ages. Ever since Alyssa could talk she has talked about horses. She read every book on horses she could find. This is the way she became a top user of the local library—a Trailblazer. She became an entrepreneur before she was a teen—a Trailblazer. She designed a board game online for kids to learn about the breeds and horses in general—a Trailblazer. She was 12 when she posted horse ads for a company. She was 13 when she started her own successful horse training business using gentle techniques that she taught others—a Trailblazer. She was 14 when she started her own online business finding the right horse for others so they could enjoy the world of horses—a Trailblazer. She has ridden in a variety of ways, including western, English, re-enacting the Pony Express, hosted trail rides, rode endurance, rode to her wedding, driven horses, competed, brought her donkey to church for a living nativity and for Palm Sunday and the list continues. Halloween would consist of dressing up and bringing her pony trick or treating—a Trailblazer. She would ride her horse to town to send mail or pick up an item. She would ride her horse through the drive thru at McDonalds—a Trailblazer. She rode horses in the grand opening of the annual rodeo—BUT she wore a helmet and now more people are wearing helmets at that event—a Trailblazer. She used her horses to help people with special needs discover the joy they would have otherwise missed—a Trailblazer. Needless to say, her life is horses.

With a never-ceasing need to learn more about horses, she is now on her biggest Trailblazing adventure. Her Quest is now to ride every breed of horse in the world and to document that journey for others to learn about, enjoy and protect the animal of her heart, the horse. This is something that has never been done, a true Trailblazer. She has developed a website called www.Discoverthehorse.com that allows anyone to join the journey. She will introduce breeds, their strengths, their breeding, their homeland and the continued struggle to keep certain breeds alive-a Trailblazer. Recently she became a licensed drone pilot so she can film from the sky to add different perspectives to her videos. Just recently she heard from a parent of a 2-year-old that had frequent night terrors. He found one of Alyssa’s one-hour relaxation videos with horses. He played this for his son and it relaxed him right away—a Trailblazer She wants to share her passion and love of horses to others and guide them in their journeys into the world of horses. I know that this is not just a dream. She WILL do this! Why am I so sure? Because her whole life she has been one that blazes a trail to guide others, a Trailblazer!

—Nominated by Rhonda Engness

Elizabeth ‘Lili’ Kellogg

Elizabeth ‘Lili’ Kellogg
Photo Courtesy Susan Friedman

Elizabeth ‘Lili’ Kellogg deserves Horse Illustrated’s “Female Trailblazer” Award, because she is one of the early pioneers of therapeutic horsemanship and continues to be a powerful advocate. Today, she serves as CEO of Dallas-based Equest (www.equest.org), the first Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Premier Accredited Center in Texas and one of the largest in the country. She is also a board member of PATH Intl. Kellogg received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Colorado State University and has been involved in the therapeutic riding industry since 1987. She is certified from PATH Intl. as a master instructor (one of 24 in the world), site visitor, and faculty/evaluator. She has coached equestrian teams at national and international levels, including the 1996 Paralympics. Lili has served on numerous boards, committees and task forces to advance the industry, meanwhile establishing a world-class reputation of excellence for Equest’s programs, services and therapies. In 2000, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal visited Equest where Lili gave her a tour of the facility and prepared riding demos. In 2002, Lili received the PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award, the highest honor in the therapeutic riding industry. Before taking the helm at Equest, she served as the executive director of SIRE in Houston, the director of ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship in McKinney, and the program director and interim CEO at Equest. Prior to moving to Texas in 1984, she served on the faculty in the Equine Management Department of the University of Minnesota Technical College, Waseca.

—Nominated by Susan Friedman

Nadia Heffner

Nadia Heffner
Photo Courtesy Michelle M. Eberle

I nominate Nadia Heffner of Double H Horse Farm. Nadia is an exceptional trainer of show horses, but her forte lies within her work with wild Mustangs. Her liberty acts are spellbinding! She is truly a horse whisperer. She will be participating in the Mustang Makeover again this year. In the past she placed in the top four!!!! Her many years of wisdom and knowledge make her a true equine trailblazer.

—Nominated by Michelle M. Eberle

Heather Wallace

Heather Wallace - Female Equine Industry Trailblazers Contest Winners
Photo Courtesy Jamie Baldanza

I’ve read Heather’s book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, and was blown away by her raw honesty. She basically says what most of us riders are too scared to admit. By starting the conversation, she is opening up and saying it’s ok to have fear and be brave at the same time. She’s also a fierce advocate for supporting other woman in the equestrian world. While everyone is trying to tear everyone else down, Heather is building the bridge for community.

—Nominated by Jamie Baldanza

Thank you to all those who nominated our Female Equine Industry Trailblazers. Winners of our Female Equine Industry Trailblazers Contest will receive a subscription to Horse Illustrated.

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