WHO WE ARE

A Family
Many people working together, each one with his or her own special gift to share. From our instructors and volunteers to our barn staff and Board of Directors. With our riders, we "walk on." Together.
MARY SHARP
Founder, Executive Director and
PATH-Certified Lead Instructor
Mary started her work in therapeutic riding at Heartland Therapeutic Riding Center in Stilwell, Kansas as a teenager for a service project.  Beginning as a “barn rat” helping prepare and care for the horses, she soon discovered a talent and love for the horse and rider relationship, working her way up to an assistant instructor. 
 
In college at the University of Kansas, she earned her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and her Master’s degree in Special Education.  She paid for much of her college tuition by training horses and riders. She is also the past coach for the University of Kansas Intercollegiate Equestrian Team. After 30 years of teaching and training, Mary's business, Sharp Performance Horses, has become a respected and well-established program. Mary travels throughout the midwest judging 4-H and open competitions. She also helped design the Midnight Farms therapeutic program in Eudora, Kansas, but she never forgot her dream of starting a therapeutic riding center of her own.  
 
Mary has 21 years of experience as a teacher and special educator in the Olathe school district. She used those years of experience as a teacher and trainer to design and start a therapeutic program in Wyandotte county.  Seeing a need for services in the northern Kansas counties, she partnered with Bill Basler at Due West Ranch to start her dream program. 
 
“I have the best job in the world-I get to work with these amazing horses and beautiful riders. I want to reduce numbers on other centers' waiting lists. I want to create a safe, fun program for riders with special needs.  I want to serve this part of the state.  I want families and siblings of our riders to enjoy their time in the country.  I want to share this with everyone!”
 
In 2014, Mary achieved the first level of PATH certification, posting the highest score. She continues to work towards completing the advanced and master level certifications, all to better serve the riders in her program.
OUR INSTRUCTORS
Experienced, well-trained, PATH-certified instructors lead our classes and design our lessons to produce the most benefit while taking into account each student's specific needs.
LIA HENRY
PATH-Certified Instructor
 
Lia has always shown an interest in working with horses and children. Her career with horses began on her 9th birthday when she took her first riding lesson. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to learn anything she can about working with these majestic animals.
 
Having family members with special needs has motivated Lia to pursue alternative therapies for these individuals. Lia has directly seen the benefits of working with horses and because of these experiences, it has always been a dream of hers to introduce others to the benefits of equine therapy.

Lia discovered her love and talent working with children at a young age with her first babysitting job. Since then, she has cared for many children at home and in a daycare situation. She has a great love for helping children learn as children learn best: through games! "It fills my heart to see a child's eyes light up when they realize they understand something new, or to get a smile or a hug. It is those small moments that make every struggle worth it. I could not dream of a better place to be other than with my students and my horses. I learn and receive so much more from them than I could ever repay."

Lia is always looking for ways to better connect the behavior and the mechanics of the horse with the specific needs of the rider. Lia pursues continuing education opportunities by participating in clinics and interships with other equine professionals and keeps her own skills honed by taking lessons in multiple disciplines.

A junior in college, she plans to continue her education in the pediatric, early childhood or special education fields. Lia also plans to continue towards her advanced PATH certification.
KIRSTEN FRENCH
PATH-Certified Instructor
 
Kirsten began her love affair with the equine gentle giants at the age of seven when she took her first riding lesson.  She participated in the Mid-Continent Girl Scout Council's equestrian program beginning in 4th grade.  Kirsten participated in the Wrangler-in-Training and Riding Instructor-in-Training programs at Winding River Equestrian Center and spent many weekends during high school helping facilitate equestrian activities for younger Girl Scouts.  As a Cadette Girl Scout, Kirsten looked to combine her love of horses with her desire to help others live more meaningful and independent lives.  What began as a volunteer service project during her Freshman year at Heartland Therapeutic Riding Center in Stilwell, Kansas led to spending up to four nights a week at the Center during her senior year and achieving the first step towards her dream when she became a Registered Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor with NARHA just two months after celebrating her 18th birthday.  

The next stop on her equestrian journey took Kirsten to William Woods University where she majored in Equestrian Science.  While at WWU, Kirsten assisted in conducting the first Equestrian Special Olympics event in the state of Missouri and became a Special Olympics Equestrian Volunteer Coach.  She completed an internship at Horses for Healing in Bentonville, Arkansas as a part of her program of study.  Kirsten also obtained certification from the American Riding Instructors Association in Hunt Seat (Level 2) and Stable Management (Level 1) while attending WWU.  She participated in a variety of horse show experiences while at WWU including several shows on campus and in the American Royal Hunter-Jumper (Kansas City, Missouri) and the Harvest Time Hunter-Jumper (Germantown, Tennessee) shows.  

Kirsten is a lifetime member of PATH International and the American Riding Instructors Association.  Kirsten is excited for the opportunity to join Mary and Bill at Due West Therapeutic Riding Center and looks forward to providing a quality program for all of our clients.
Beth Brock
PATH-Certified Instructor

Beth, a transplant from Indianapolis, Indiana, started as a volunteer in the fall of 2013 when she was looking for a positive way to spend her "free time."  Beth rode hunter-jumper as a youth and was certifiably "horse crazy."  After a 35+ year break from horses, the love (and craziness) immediately returned upon getting involved at Due West, and she quickly built up to volunteering 2-3 times a week.  After a year of volunteering, she also added riding once again into her repertoire. Beth then progressed to becoming a PATH-Certified Instructor and enjoys teaching several lessons a week. In 2017, she also joined the ranks of horse ownership by purchasing her first horse, Mocha.  Beth recently accepted early retirement from her 27-year career with Eli Lilly and Company, and is moving on to the next phase of her career with CRB Engineers.

Willow Goodman

​Advanced PATH-Certified Instructor

Willow started her therapeutic riding career at the age of 11 when she started volunteering with a therapeutic riding center in New Hill, North Carolina. She quickly fell in love with therapeutic riding and decided to make it her life’s pursuit. She worked her way up the ranks to head volunteer and then instructor in training. Willow tested and passed her registered level therapeutic riding certification at age eighteen.
 
She decided to continue her education in the field, and enrolled in the Therapeutic Horsemanship program at St.Andrews University, located in Laurinburg, NC. Willow graduated college in May of  2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Horsemanship. In addition, she also earned two more certifications while attending college; a PATH Intl mentor certification and a PATH Intl Advanced Therapeutic Riding Certification.
 
After college, Willow worked at several therapeutic horsemanship centers ranging in positions from instructor to program director. She gained experience in all areas of the field from volunteer coordinating to horse evaluations and training. During this time, she also had an opportunity to earn another certification; Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning.
 
Willow is excited to bring her 15 years of experience in Therapeutic Horsemanship to Due West. She is so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a wonderful team of dedicated horses, staff, and volunteers. She enjoys working with all of her students to provide them with safe, fun, and effective lessons each and every time.

Caitlin Raw

Equine Manager

Bio coming soon!
Bill Basler

Property Manager
Bill has been a Wyandotte county resident all of his life, serving with the Kansas City Fire Department as a firefighter for 20 years.  Bill has been the owner of Due West Ranch for 13 years and has provided boarding and training services to the equine community. He has been a trucking company owner and decided that it was “time to give back.”  He believes strongly in the benefits of therapeutic riding and is proud to own the facility that houses this amazing center.  A lifetime “Dotte”, he supports the efforts of the center and the needs that it fills within the community.  He spends his days making sure the families enjoy their time on the beautiful property. He makes it a personal mission to  know every rider and make sure they “enjoy the ride!”

Working Together

Leading our staff at Due West TRC is our volunteer Board of Directors. This gifted and motivated group gives direction to our vision and support to our clients' dreams.



Board of Directors

President - Deb Ries

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC

 
Vice President -

Treasurer - Annie Swartz
Creative Courseware, Inc.

Secretary - 

Community Outreach Director - Karen Schotanus
 
Wyandot Inc.

Volunteer Services Director - Kim Buckner
Banfield Pet Hospital

Events Director - 


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Advisory Board

Legal - Barry Martin, Esq.
Speer & Holliday, LLP

Planning & Engineering - Joe Roth
Alfred Benesch Company, retired

Fundraising - Julie Hessenflow
American Century Investments

 Equine Nutritionist - Dr. Katie Young, PhD
Purina Mills
OUR VOLUNTEERS
Last, but certainly not least, are our volunteers. Without their dedication, support and love, Due West TRC would not exist. They come from varied backgrounds and from the four corners of the metro, but unite at the ranch for our one purpose: giving our riders their time in the saddle.