PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Micah has been working with horses for nearly 25 years. Her passion began at a young age; according to her family, she began preferring horse-related clothing and toys by the time she was two-years-old. By age eight, she was taking weekly riding lessons, and by age 14, she purchased her first horse. Through years with different trainers and fellow riders, she has come to embrace a natural horsemanship philosophy and gives a great deal of credit to all the horses and people that have taught her so much.
In 2006, she graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology, criminology, and psychology. It was the summer after graduation that she found a therapeutic riding program in need of volunteers. She recalls, “From the first lesson, I was sure that this incredible endeavor was going to be a huge part of my life.” In 2013, she became certified as a PATH International Therapeutic Riding Instructor and was able to fully embrace her passion.
Dr. Peggy A. Houglum
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Peggy A. Houglum graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in physical therapy in 1971. She went on to graduate from Indiana State University with a MS specializing in athletic training and adaptive physical education, and she became a certified athletic trainer in 1975. Working as an instructor in ISU’s graduate and undergraduate Athletic Training Programs, Peg also served as the head athletic trainer for women’s sports. In 1978 she moved to Ames, Iowa to serve in a similar position at Iowa State University. She was lured to Los Angeles in 1981 where she worked in sports medicine clinics and hospitals for the next 15 years. After a brief return to the Midwest, Peg decided to leave the Chicago area to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Virginia and in 2001 completed her PhD in Sports Medicine.
Throughout her professional career, Dr. Peg Houglum has worked in a variety of settings including acute and rehabilitation hospitals, sports medicine and orthopedic clinics, as well as industrial settings. She has treated a variety of patients from six to 90 years old. Over the years she has additionally served on several professional committees at the district and national level. Her international service includes volunteering as an AT for USA teams at World University Games in Kobe, Japan, a member of the Olympic Organizing Committee for the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles, and an AT during the Olympics for events such as the Modern Pentathlon, Opening Ceremonies, and at the Polyclinics. Peg has written articles on sports medicine, co-authored an athletic training assessment text, and is sole author of a comprehensive athletic training therapeutic exercise text.
Her professional expertise lies in rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise, a topic for which she has delivered several regional, national and international presentations. She has been recognized for her service to sports medicine with various awards and in 2002 she was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame.
Now Dr. Houglum generously donates her time and talent to Heaven’s Gait Ranch, assisting our therapeutic riding instructor and program director during rider registration. By conducting a simple mobility test during each rider’s intake assessment, Dr. Houglum helps us determine how much assistance a rider will need, given his or her areas of strength. In addition, she offers guidance on appropriate goals and exercises, which makes Heaven’s Gait Ranch grateful of her continued support.
Certified Equine Ttouch Practitioner & Certified Centered Riding Instructor
Lynn Pfundtner was first introduced to horses at the age of three, and since then her love of horses has never faded. Although she usually had a horse in her life, she did not show or compete. She simply loved horses, being with them, grooming, pleasure riding and training. In 1999, the Tellington Equine Awareness Method caught Lynn’s eye and then her heart. Shortly after, Clicker Training and teaching made sense. The methods complement each other by encouraging the horse to learn how to learn.
After organizing several open clinics in Elkhart Lake, WI, Lynn became certified as a Centered Riding Instructor in 2012, taking the required Instructor’s Course with the renowned Susan B. Harris, protégé of the late Sally Swift, creator of Centered Riding. In 2014, Lynn achieved Certification as Equine Ttouch Practitioner. She now implements both Ttouch and clicker training into her methods while training the therapy horses at HGR.
Aside from equine training, Lynn has spent many hours working as a therapeutic riding volunteer. Her jobs have included side walking, leading, and re-training the horses when needed. She has not only helped re-train horses claimed “untrainable” by other professional trainers, but she has also helped riders overcome fear of riding after severe trauma while on horseback. She specializes in helping both horse and rider become confident so that together they can reach goals within a safe learning environment.
Matt Jones has been around horses for the last 28 years and got his first job breaking colts at age 22. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Matt moved to Texas as a young man to work with cutting and reining horses. In 1994 he returned to the Midwest and began working for a stock contractor. During this time, he participated in bareback riding and speed racing rodeos, and after four years of rodeoing, he apprenticed with Farrier Red Renchin for the next eight years.
In 2002 Matt started his own farrier and shoeing business and now travels to his clients to serve their hoof care needs. His job ranges from managing the shoeing needs for as many as 30 horses at a show barn in Illinois to trimming one horse’s feet in someone’s back yard in Wisconsin. As a resident of Cedar Grove for the last 15 years, he immediately began taking care of our therapy horses in the summer of 2016 at Heaven’s Gait Ranch, and we’re blessed to have such talent and expertise right in our local area.
Despite the fact farriering is physically demanding – and particularly strenuous for someone who is 6’5” – Matt says the most rewarding part of his job is corrective farriering, alleviating a horse’s pain and improving his or her condition so that the horse is safe, sound, and happy. Because our therapy horses carry riders with a variety of needs, quality hoof care is essential to our programming needs at Heaven’s Gait Ranch.
Matt states, “There’s a saying that’s true: no hoof; no horse. You have to take care of their feet because it all starts on the ground.”
Matt lives in Cedar Grove, WI with his wife, two kids, two dogs, two cats, and four horses.
Assistant Equine Manager with a Concentration in Equine Wellness & Conditioning
Ashley has been around horses from a very young age. She started riding at the age of seven and competed in English, Western, and trail classes with a number of different horses through 4-H. Going into her sophomore year of high school, she was introduced to natural horsemanship and fell in love with it. She took a break from competing and dedicated her time to exploring the world of natural horsemanship with her two-year-old horse Pippin. She has seen firsthand how willing horses can be if the time is taken to understand them and gain their trust.
In the Fall of 2016 she started volunteering at Heaven’s Gait Ranch and loved witnessing the connection between the horses and riders. After months of grooming, lead walking, and side walking, Ashley developed quite a bond with the therapy horses on site, as she could see how demanding this job would become for the animals. She began offering more and more time to help condition the horses so that they remain physically sound and mentally sharp, and by summer 2017 she began working as the Assistant Equine Manager on site. In addition to working at Heaven’s Gait Ranch, Ashley is a Certified Veterinary Assistant through San Juan College.