MEET THE TEAM
Chagrin Valley Farms’ team of camp and lesson riding instructors share the philosophy that riding should always be fun and safe and they know how to provide a positive experience for every level of rider. If you are looking for additional services—horse training, coaching at horse shows on the road, buying or selling horses and ponies, Chagrin Valley Farms-based trainers can help you transition to the next level.
Sonja went to college at Lake Erie College and double majored in the Equine Teacher/Trainer and Equine Entrepreneurship programs. Teaching and showing throughout school, she also bought, retrained and sold horses for the jumper show ring. After graduation Sonja took a position at a large show facility in Florida. She was an assistant trainer and taught lessons there, before returning to Ohio where she has worked riding and training at local farms.
Mandy Williams Kurzinger develops riders from beginner through advanced levels. Prior to Chagrin Valley Farms, she worked at such barns as White North Stables and Maypine Equestrian Center in Ohio, and Kennedy Farms in Missouri, teaching riders from beginner level to A-circuit competitors. A graduate of Lake Erie College with Equine Studies degrees in teaching/training and facility management, Mandy is also a seasoned competitor in stadium, dressage and eventing.
Sue coordinates the camp and lesson programs, in addition to providing a positive lesson environment. She learned to ride at Red Raider Stables and fosters the therapeutic benefits of the horse and rider relationship. Sue teaches beginner and intermediate riding lessons and has been an instructor since the Farm’s inception in 1983. She specializes in getting new riders started and guiding those who are interested, to the more advanced programs at the Farm. Sue makes Academy horse shows fun and rewarding, cheering on her students and supporting the parents.
CARI GLEESON & EMILY ALINEN
Cari grew up showing ponies in New England. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Ohio University, she taught elementary school for 10 years while pursuing a career on the A circuit as an Amateur rider. After her first daughter was born she left the public school system, but continued to show and began training as a career. She and assistant trainer, Emily Alinen, specialize in starting young ponies and horses and always have horses available for sale or lease. Emily grew up riding and showing and after graduating from Hiram College she joined Cari in the business and is one of the busiest young pros around.
RANDE & KELBY MELLEN
Rande is a lifelong equestrian originally from the Boston area who rode hunter horses and evented. She was an A Pony Clubber. She has been training hunters since 1986 and raised her own family of riders who competed at the national level. Daughter Kelby works with her in the business and Rande trains riders of all ages from pony kids to adult hunters. She specializes in pony hunters and young riders and has horses for sale and lease.