About Us

Our Story 

Our Mission, Goals, & Values

The Riders Up! program was created to help parents have an affordable option for activities for their children. As we were building our regular lesson program, it quickly became apparent that it was out of reach financially for many families. 

Mission

Our mission is to provide local children with the opportunity to learn not only how to ride, but horsemanship, horse care, and stable management, while providing off the track Thoroughbreds with careers after racing. 

What Does Riders Up! Mean?

Riders Up! refers to the classic phrase that is called in the paddock at the racetrack telling the jockeys and the crowd that it’s time for a leg up. Many of our kids need a leg up in life and we are here to help them. The name also honors the Thoroughbreds used in our program. 

With Your Help,

We Are Making a Difference

You don’t know the difference until it’s gone. That is one thing we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our students suffered increased effects of depression and behavioral issues when the world was suddenly shut down. It was apparent to us all, horses have a way of making our lives better.

Valerie Mellema

Valerie Mellema

Founder/Executive Director

Valerie Mellema has a BS in Equine Business & Industry from West Texas A&M University. She is a published author and has written for several equine publications and websites. She has over 25 years of experience in the horse industry having worked at the American Quarter Horse Association as well as a Hunter/Jumper facility in Oklahoma. 

Troy Mellema

Troy Mellema

Treasurer

Troy Mellema is an entrepreneur. He is an avid investor of stocks and real estate as well. He remembers growing up as a kid in Amarillo, Texas, and the numerous programs that gave back to their community, and is excited to be a part of a program that gives back in ours.  

Marea Breedlove

Marea Breedlove

Secretary

Marea Breedlove lives in Locust Grove, Oklahoma and grew up riding and showing Missouri Fox Trotters. She has been avid in Girl Scouts and is a board member for the Arts Alliance in Locust Grove. She has always been active in her community and currently serves as the Locust Grove librarian and works as a photographer.

Jennifer Schneider

Jennifer Schneider

Board Member

Jennifer Schneider grew up in the Austin area where she learned to ride and began eventing. She was able to work at several farms throughout the years as a working student. She operated a lesson and summer camp program in Sulphur Springs, Texas before relocating to Canton.

Audrey Tripp

Audrey Tripp

Program Director

Audrey handles the day-to-day operations of Lake Fork Stables, teaching the lessons, managing the barn and the horses. She has a background in Pony Club, eventing, and the care of upper-level horses. 

Thank You to Our Partners & Sponsors

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