About Our Team

Passion Driven By Knowledge And Solidified with Loving Action

Kids & Horses Staff

Amy Schelert

Occupational Therapist

Amy grew up in Sacramento. At age15 she was introduced to a program similar to Kids & Horses. She became a certified instructor in 2009, and became an occupational therapist in 2011. Amy’s favorite thing about working at Kids & Horses is helping individuals with disabilities reach their highest potential while having fun! Fun Fact: Amy played equestrian polo in college.


Barb Morningstar

Business and Volunteer Manager 

After volunteering one Sunday afternoon in 2008, Barb knew that that was what she wanted to do. She retired early from the State of Nevada to accept her “dream retirement job” at Kids & Horses in 2011. Barb recruits, trains, and schedules all of our volunteers. She performs many tasks and is invaluable to our program!

Cat O’Brien

Program Director, Equine Manager, Instructor

Catherine “Cat” O’Brien is originally from Chicago, but spent much of her life in Southern CA. Cat had been in public education for the 20 years teaching ESL and Spanish at Carson Middle School. She became a certified instructor in 2017. Cat loves being a part of the Kids & Horses team.

Erin Vaillancourt

Physical Therapist

Erin was raised in Gardnerville, Nevada since she was 7 years old.  In her spare time, Erin love doings anything outdoors with her husband and two kids.  Some of their favorite hobbies (besides horses of course) are rock climbing, skiing, and kayaking.  The thing Erin loves about working at Kids and Horses is being a part of a team that is passionate about helping others through the use of a horse. Erin says, “It really doesn’t feel like work, and I love the entire team here.”


Vince Pirozzi

Facility/Safety Manager, Instructor

Vince was born and raised in New York City. He has 38 years of firefighter/paramedic experience, and was commander of Carson City mounted police for 10 years! Vince became an instructor in 2013. His favorite part of teaching is helping his students reach their goals. Fun Fact: Vince enjoys building detailed model boats!


Lisa Fletcher


Lisa is a native of New Orleans. She earned a BA in elementary and special education from the University of New Orleans.  Lisa met Sam (our founder) in 1999. He recruited her to volunteer and instruct at Kids & Horses. She is proud to be part of the Kids & Horses family!

Sheila Schwadel


Sheila is a Real Estate Broker, and has had horses for many years. “It has been really gratifying to see the progress in my student riders, some who were afraid to go near a horse the first time, yet now groom, saddle, and ride independently ride!” Fun Fact: Sheila volunteers with mustang rescue and training.

Dorothy Magnotta

Event Coordinator 

Dorothy moved from New Jersey in January of 2017. She became involved in our program the same month she moved to Minden as a volunteer. Shortly after, she joined the staff team. She has been happily married for 32 years and has two young adult children. Dorothy loves exploring new surroundings and socializing with people. Here at Kids & Horses, she enjoys seeing the appreciation the students, staff, and volunteers have fro the program. Fun Fact: Dorothy likes to cook and entertain when time permits.

Ryanna Blake

Public Relations Intern, Ranch Hand 

Ryanna has lived in Nevada her whole life. She loves to spend time with her family and friends (four-legged ones included). She also enjoys reading, writing, pet sitting, and anything to do with horses. Ryanna started working at Kids & Horses in 2016, and loves being part of a community where lives are changed and miracles are witnessed. “It has been a immense blessing to be a part of this program and getting to know some of the families, the volunteers, and the staff. It’s a unique opportunity that I am incredibly grateful for.”

Paige Dossey


Paige was born and raised in Carson City, NV. In December of 2017, she will be graduating with a Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Developmental Disabilities. Paige began volunteering at Kids & Horses in 2013, and became a instructor in 2017. Paige’s favorite thing about Kids & Horses is as she puts it, “the sense of community as soon as you walk in the door. I love to work with the amazing volunteers and staff that makes this program the positive experience that it is”. Paige enjoys working with the students and their families while being around such “healing animals”.

Alissa Burns


Alissa became involved in the arena of Therapeutic riding in the late 1980’s.  She retired from a career of over 30 years in public safety, which also included her active involvement in Mounted Patrol units.  She was then able to quickly fulfill her goal of becoming a PATH Certified Instructor in 2011.  One of her greatest blessings in life has been the ability to share and teach the joy of horses and safe horsemanship with others, no matter what their level of involvement or ability might be.  “To see the wonderment and be a part of their journey’s is more than just a privilege, it is pure joy!”

Kim Scott

 Ranch Hand 

Kim was raised in Southern California. Horses have always been a part of her life, and her love for horses is what brought her to our program. Kim started working at Kids & Horses in 2016. Her favorite part of her job is everything from the volunteers, the horses, and the staff!!

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If you are interested in working together, send us an inquiry and we will get back to you as soon as we can!