Our Team

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Marissa Mendoza

Director of Operations, Head 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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Alicia Ebel

Head 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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Jackie Wyer

Program Director
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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Merrick Miller

Instructor & Training Assistant
Horse crazy from a young age, Merrick began taking riding lessons at 6 years old and has never looked back. Whether it was cutting out photos from horse magazines to put on her bedroom wall, or demanding that her parents drive the long way home so they could pass the horse barns, Merrick’s world revolved around horses. While Merrick is a lover of all horses, her heart has been tied to the Arabian breed since she began showing them at 12 years old. Over the course of her competitive career, Merrick has shown purebred and half-Arabians in Native Costume, Liberty, Country Pleasure, and her favorite, Hunter Pleasure. In 2017 Merrick received her Associates Degree in Equine Science from Scottsdale Community College. Merrick believes that the key to success in the horse world is having a solid, educated foundation. Whether it’s introducing beginners to the magic of riding, or it’s fine-tuning more advanced equestrians, Merrick enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with Hoofbeatz clients. When she’s not at HoofbeatZ, Merrick can be found either trail riding her purebred gelding, Dino, with her dog Penny in tow, or preparing for a show with her half-Arabian mare, Victoria.
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Olivia Huesing

Instructor & Training Assistant
Olivia first started riding horses at the age of 4 on a small Morgan horse farm in Upstate New York. She was hooked and convinced her parents to continue funding her horse obsession following a move to Scottsdale, AZ in 2005. She trained and showed with a variety of hunter/jumper/equitation and dressage trainers, including Hoofbeatz’s Alicia Ebel, prior to graduating from high school. Despite earning a varsity slot on the ASU equestrian team and competing for a semester, Olivia opted to play rugby during her college years instead due to scheduling conflicts and classes. Following a long break from riding, Olivia rediscovered her love for horses on a visit to HoofbeatZ in February of 2020. Olivia is a Registered Nurse who holds a BS in Nursing and a BS in Psychology from Arizona State University. She has substantial experience working with young children in educational settings. She’s passionate about watching students’ progress in their confidence around horses and in their understanding of equine behavior and psychology. She loves the uniqueness of the HoofbeatZ program and believes that its teaching model empowers students to be more than just riders, but well-rounded horsemen and horsewomen. Gaining a working knowledge of natural horsemanship and its ability to strengthen partnerships has been the highlight of Olivia’s time at HoofbeatZ USA.
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Tessa Hamrick

Instructor & Training Assistant
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Christine Lowe

Instructor & Program Support
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Anthony Swedlund

Instructor & Groom
With 48 consecutive years in the equine industry, Tony has managed several large horse training and breeding facilities. Tony also has over a decade as an independent trainer spanning Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arizona. As an instructor, Tony has taught Youth and Amateur Halter, Western Pleasure, English, Horsemaship and Trail. He has worked extensively with Quarter horses and Paints, and is multi-Paint and multi-Pinto World Champion. Tony has also been an open show and 4-H judge for 20 years, IM and IV qualified, and foaled 540 mares and foals!

Leeanne Gardner

Owner, Boss Mare at Unbridle It
Are you ready to take the reins and chart your trail to more happiness and fulfillment?

A lifelong love of horses has provided me with profound life lessons, including the importance of authenticity, the power of presence, the necessity of perseverance, and the value of resilience.
By tapping in to lessons I have learned through my love of horses as well as my journey through resilience over 50+ years, I have pulled the steps and processes I used to transform my life into a book. “Unbridle It! Buck Up and Create Your Happy!” This interactive book will help you take the reins, if you’re ready to Buck Up!

The book is available on Amazon.

I invite you to visit my website and download “5 Tips To Invite More Happiness Into Your Day!” www.unbridleit.com

You’ll never know your full potential until you Unbridle It!

See me and attend my events held at HoofbeatZ USA by visiting both our Facebook pages!