Kimiko Kobayashi, Executive Director
USEF Professional

About Me >

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I started riding at the age of 6 in Northern California at a 3-day event barn. From there I continued my riding education in Dressage under the tutelage of Lilo Fores. During this time I became a working student at the age of 12 assisting with summer camps and riding. In 1992 I then began my Hunter/jumper journey with Marian Nelson where my horse and I qualified for the zone 10 finals our first year together. I quickly became a working student riding several different horses a day. This is where I learned many skills regarding horse care and management.  In the Fall of 1999 I took the position of Head Riding School instructor, Barn Manager & Assistant Trainer of Avalon Hunter/Jumpers where I managed over 55+ horses.  In 2006, after taking a little break to raise my 2 young children, I opened up my own Training stables and Sales barn.  I still continue to train and coach my clients when time permits. 

Although I loved to teach and train I always felt unfulfilled looking for a nonprofit to be apart of.  After attending a workshop at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in 2006 that taught the in's & out's of running a nonprofit for Equine Therapy I was hooked .  Over the past 12 years I've worked and consulted for several Equine therapy programs throughout Southern California.  When family brought me to Bakersfield nearly 4 years ago, I discovered M.A.R.E.  Bakersfield has shown me some new adventures including my newest addition, my 10 month old daughter.  Though I am a busy Mom of 3 kids,  I am so excited to be apart of this amazing program, and I am eager to help MARE continue to thrive and grow.

Alexandria Stevenson
 Riding Instructor & Intake Coordinator
PATH Int’l Instructor in training

About Me >

Hi! My name is Alex. I have been involved with horses since I was about 6. I started riding and learning the ropes in a western saddle, and had a great upbringing learning to love and care for a horse. I soon switched to the English discipline and learned the art of equitation, hunters and jumpers; which is just a fancy way to say I learned to ride on the flat, while jumping, and while jumping fast! I worked as camp counselor, and co-director of several horse camps as I continued to ride and learn about horses. At 15 I started to give lessons in exchange for extra lessons for myself. At 18, I put horses in the background while I focused on college and found that I could not live without my four legged best friends. It wasn’t long until I found a new barn and furthered my riding. Before getting married in 2015, I spent a year working at Center for Autism and Related Disorders and found that I loved helping the children with disabilities but I missed being with the horses’ full time, so I partnered up with my friend who owned a training barn in town and started to give lessons on horseback. It was there I honed my skills as an instructor. I gave lessons to children from the age 4 and up for the last 6 years. I decided to join MARE as a way to supplement my income after having my daughter, but it turns out that this is where I am meant to be. Being at MARE brings my two passions together. Helping students learn to ride and helping children with disabilities. I am so happy to call MARE home and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Meg Blaine
 Riding Instructor
PATH Int’l Instructor in training

About Me >

I began riding at a young age and worked my way into the western pleasure world- often driving to Paso Robles for lessons and driving to Arizona or Nevada for horse shows. From there, I went to Saint Mary’s in East Bay but realized that I couldn’t be away from my horses so in 2019 I transferred to Cuesta College in SLO to be closer to my horses. I have experience starting two year old horses under saddle but more recently switched to hunter/jumpers under the guidance of Allie Hyatt in Bakersfield. Although I’m new to M.A.R.E, I can’t wait to get started as an instructor in training!

Kellie Pogue
 Riding Instructor
PATH Int’l Instructor in training

About Me >

Bio coming soon...

Angie Curtis
 Riding Instructor
PATH Int’l Certified Riding Instructor

About Me >

Hi, my name is Angie Curtis.  I started volunteering at M.A.R.E. at age 13.  I fell in love with the program and after a year of volunteering on Saturdays, I started to come out during the week after school to help with lessons. I spent a majority of my teen years here at the barn.  When I turned 18 I became a certified riding instructor and taught for a little over a year, before moving on to try some new things in life.  I have a wonderful husband named Justin, and two children Blake and Amelia, with one on the way.  I have experience in starting  2 years olds under saddle, working with problem horses, and riding just about every style there is.  Horses have always been my passion, even though I was not brought up with horses in my family. I have always tried to help people in whatever situation I have been in.  Coming back to M.A.R.E. as the Program Director was the perfect time in my life to combine horses and helping others.  I look forward to getting up every day and being part of such a wonderful team of people and horses.  I am excited for our future out here and can’t wait to see how we can grow this organization and help as many people possible in our community.

Judy Hilburn
 Licenced Occupational Therapist
PATH Int’l 

About Me >

Bio coming soon

Victor Ayala
 Veterans Coordinator
PATH Int’l Instructor in training

About Me >

Born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. Graduated from Ridgeview HS in 2001. August 8, 2001 I enlisted in the US Navy. I served in the Navy for 5 years. I served as an Aviation Search and Rescue Swimmer and flew in H-60’s. August of 2006 I came back to Bakersfield to begin my life as a civilian. I got a job immediately at an oil refinery were I worked for 10 years. While working I also attended University of Phoenix to attain my Masters in Business. Decided to pursue a career as a financial advisor unfortunately it did not suit me. So began working with a buddy doing home renovations. So now I manage his projects. I started riding at MARE as part of the Veteran group in Dec 2017. I was accepted to a Veteran program called Heroes and Horses. I completed the program in July 2018. Now I am proud to say that I am part of the MARE Family. Horses have become a great passion of mine and look forward to what the future holds here at MARE.  #notavacation #calicowboy

Shelby Frank
 Volunteer Coordinator

About Me >

Born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. Graduated from Frontier High School and then went on to play volleyball at Chico State, then transferred to Cal State Bakersfield. I have my bachelors in Psychology and continue to study nutrition.  I am passionate about health, wellness, and have always had a love for horses. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to join the MARE team after my time as a volunteer. My favorite part about it all is witnessing the growth of each rider and the bond that is strengthened each week between rider & horse.

Manuel Ramirez
 Facility Manager

About Me >

My name is Manuel, I am a senior at Cal State Bakersfield. I am currently working on my Agriculture Business major degree.  I’ve been at M.A.R.E since June 5 of 2017. These past 10 months have been a great experience for me at M.A.R.E, meeting new people, hands-on learning with our riders, and new methods of working with horses. Over all I have enjoyed working at M.A.R.E and look forward to learning more every day. 

Helen McKee
 Riding Instructor
PATH Int’l Certified Riding Instructor

About Me >

Helen started at MARE during it's 2nd year of operations as a Volunteer and continued for several year. Over the last 20 years Helen has helped here as a Barn Manager, Volunteer Coordinator and Program Coordinator.  Helen is a certified Riding instructor.  Helen's own father was handicapped and combined her passion for horses and helping people.  She is just one of our very friendly faces that will greet you here at MARE.