Our Team

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Alicia Ebel

Instructor & Trainer
At an early age, Alicia decided that she wanted to become a horse trainer. Alicia showed internationally and developed show jumpers and hunters for people of all ages and abilities. She rode in many clinics given by Nick Karazissis, Bernie Traurig, Chris Kappler, and Diane Carney. She eventually opened her own facility and developed the 2008 Equitation Champion of Arizona, winning at West World of Scottsdale. Around that time is when she discovered Natural Horsemanship. She closed down her barn and took a few years off from teaching to hone her natural skills. Alicia refers to natural horsemanship as "honest horsemanship" where she puts her relationship with the horse first, and her goals second. She has attended many Parelli clinics over the years and a highlight of her life is when she was able to ride her horses with Buck Brannaman in 2017. You can find Alicia in the EZ Ride ring and also developing our EZ Ride horses for assured safety for our riders.
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Marissa Mendoza

Instructor & Trainer
Marissa has always had a passion for horses. After taking lessons as a child with her father, the two embarked into horse ownership and enjoyed riding the oceanside trails of the California coast. Overtime, Marissa’s passion for horses developed into a fascination with horse training which led her to read all the books she could find on the subject and attend all the training clinics to which she could travel. During this time, she studied the emerging field of natural horsemanship and practiced a mixed methodology which included that of horsemen such as: Tom Dorrance, John Lyons, Buck Brannaman, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson, and Chris Cox. At any opportunity, Marissa trained her horses and those of her friends in order to hone her early skills in natural horsemanship. Eventually, Marissa attended Moorpark College’s program for Exotic Animal Training and Management where she graduated with degrees in animal training and turned her vocational interests toward equine stunt work and the training of equines for studio work while living in southern California. Marissa developed skills in trick riding and vaulting with top professionals, and also learned techniques for training horses at liberty for movie work from industry leaders. To this day, applying and honing her skills in liberty and “trick” horse training is an interest Marissa still pursues while training and instructing at Hoofbeatz USA. Eventually, Marissa’s interests in horse sports would lead her to compete and train her horses in multiple disciplines which have included barrel racing and other gymkhana events; Extreme Cowboy Racing and finally, her most resounding passion: the sport of Reining. She also had the pleasure of spending some years riding alongside of and learning from professional reining trainers while living in southern California. Marissa has most recently enjoyed applying her longstanding and diverse training skill set to Hoofbeatz USA where she works to add to the innovation and fun that this unique horsemanship program offers to its students.
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Sophia Jurgens

Co-Instructor
Sophia Jürgens was born and raised in Miami, Florida where she trained and competed in the Hunter/Jumper Winter Circuit. She has had over 17 years in the saddle, with a special focus on re-training off-track thoroughbreds. From 2015-2016 she competed for The University of Kent's Polo Club in Canterbury, UK, before returning to the United States where she pursued more opportunities in the Hunter/Jumper world at Signature Stables, Mariposa Farms, and in Angela Carmitchel's Working Student program. Sophia looks to foster meaningful, productive, and harmonious relationships between horses and their riders.
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Jackie Wyer

Office Manager & Co-Instructor
Although technically a fish biologist, Jackie has had her hands in the HoofbeatZ franchise since 2012 when it was active in Dubai and Qatar. She received her Bachelor's in Fish, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology at Colorado State University and was a government contract for NOAA for a year out of Norfolk, VA working on commercial fishing vessels at sea. Eileen Verdieck, her aunt, along with her mother Maureen Wyer had introduced her to horses at a young age, since it was a family passion. She has taken multiple roles in developing HoofbeatZ USA, from office management to lead marketing director, and assistant instructor.
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Gladiola Matta

Gladys graduated from college as a vet technician in Puerto Rico and developed a passion for horses. In 2017 Hurricane Maria destroyed her home in Puerto Rico, so she decided to move to AZ with her partner. She started out at Rae Dawn Arabians and Midwest Arabians to further develop her groom skills. She wanted to ride and found HoofbeatZ USA and fell in love with the program! She has learned about Natural Horsemanship and it completely changed her point of view of horses and understands their behavior and how to connect with them in a way that doesn't hurt or scare them! She is learning how to ride in a very different and unique way thanks to the program and its awesome teachers.

Soho Akhlaghi

From the time he was growing up in Iran, Soho has always had a vision of working with horses. The opportunity arose four years ago when he went to work for Silver Maple Farms in Santa Ynez, CA. It was at that time where he first learned about the HoofbeatZ USA program. Starting a new career at the age of 50 is not for the faint hearted, but Soho took a leap of faith and moved to Scottsdale to begin learning the HoofbeatZ USA training techniques.

Olivia Huesing

Co-Instructor
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Juliana Rivera

Juliana moved to Arizona two years ago from Puerto Rico with her partner. She always wanted to work with animals, and although she is very new to the equestrian world she has formed relationships with our horses and learned to truly understand appreciate them. She can't imagine her life without them. When she first started at HoofbeatZ USA she couldn't even touch a horse without being scared. After learning from our program and instructors she has become more confident than she has ever been.