Sonya Brewer: Executive Director
PATH Int’l Certified Riding Instructor
Horses have been a part of my life since I was 18 months old. Over the years I have ridden both English and Western and from a young age I worked-to-earn my riding lessons. My trainers taught me much more than cleaning stalls; they taught me about life through a horse. As a shy child, horses brought out my confidence, taught me about hard work and perseverance, and were my safe place that captured my heart.
In 2011, my husband and I moved to Bakersfield from Phoenix for work and to be near family. In 2014, my husband and I were talking when I told him, “Someday, I want to run a therapeutic riding center”. It is a passion of mine to help people see their abilities, to say “I can!”, to overcome their fears, to speak their first word, and to use horses as the vessel to do that.
From first stepping onto the property at M.A.R.E. as a volunteer, I could see and feel the vision and my heart leapt. I said to myself, “I would love to be a part of this”. Throughout my life I have been part of many businesses, ministries, missions, churches, outreaches, Christian camps, and organizations, from small to big. M.A.R.E. is definitely a special place and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
God has led me down many roads in life and I feel that over the past few years He has been preparing me for this very purpose. It has been my desire to serve in amazing and new ways. I will be able to use my talents, gifts and experiences working with horses to help people conquer life’s barriers, gain confidence, feel movement, and make positive changes. I am excited and honored to be able to serve M.A.R.E. as the Executive Director. Along with the opportunity to carry-on its great legacy.
Deborah Durkan: Retired
Congratulations. Thank you for all you years of service.
Maria Naslund: Program Director
PATH Int’l Certified Riding Instructor
Born in Sweden, I came to the United States in 1999 and to Bakersfield via Las Vegas, San Diego, and Lockwood Valley! My background includes working the World Cup circuit for 10 years and traveling while training some great horses. I am excited to be at MARE to focus on building the program and piloting new programs.
DebbyKate Kroeger: Volunteer Coordinator
I had the pleasure of knowing Diane as she was working with others as they began MARE. I was not able to get involved at that time; my life took a path where I worked with a different set of animals. Later, I was able to become involved as a supporter and volunteer. It feels good, on the body and mind, to come work around the horses -whether it is hot or cold, wet or windy! Now, as the volunteer coordinator, I have the opportunity to train others about what MARE does and how their efforts benefit our horses and riders. It is great to see volunteers eager to come and help because they understand how they are making a difference; they receive as much as they are give! I am blessed to be here.
Kristi Frick: Barn & Equine Manager and Safety Manager
I was raised “in the country” (off Rosedale Highway!) around all types of livestock and animals. My dad was a farmer, I learned how everything is interconnected. I had the opportunity to participate in drill teams and horse shows. As the wife of a farmer, I have used my knowledge and skills learned in childhood. As a mom, I was able to give my children a variety of animal experiences and teach them the rewards of hard work. Here at MARE, I am again using my knowledge and skills caring for our therapy horses, along with helping our special needs riders. Each day is different and rewarding; I love my job!
Courtney Schwegel: Barn Assistant
Brooke Dunstan: Barn Assistant
When I first joined MARE, I saw one of their flyers posted at school and thought, what a great organization. I’d always wanted to learn about horses – though was never lucky enough to have one growing up as money was always tight around our house. I thought the two combined, horses and therapy, sounded amazing. So I found myself wandering out to the old facility and who did appear out of the barn mucking stalls – none other than Deb and Diane. That really spoke to me. Here was the executive director and head riding instructor, actually doing the dirty work. I was sold on the program from that point forward. When the leaders are willing to get in the arena and get dirty, I knew this was where I belonged. Not to mention the smiling faces beaming with joy on top of a horse riding tall and enjoying every minute of it.