Our Team

Betty Gray, Executive Director

I have been blessed to live my lifelong dream of working with horses for over 55 years. At the age of 16, I opened my 1st boarding & training stable in New York. I started showing horses at the age of 9 & was very active in the 4-H. I showed Western, Hunters and Open Jumpers in my teens. I started training and showing Morgan Horses in 1965. After marrying into Florida in 1971, I opened a Morgan training & show barn under the banner of Hi-Time Farm & became a Recognized Morgan judge in 1995.

After my daughter, Kathy, was kicked in the head by a horse in 1980 I helped start the 1st therapeutic horseback riding program in Marion County in 1983. I became a certified therapeutic riding and carriage driving instructor and started promoting therapeutic riding in our community. People needed to learn about the “miracles” that can happen to children and adults that live with disabilities after riding a horse. After seeing what riding did for my daughter, this became my #1 goal in life.

In 2007, I opened Stirrups ‘n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center at Hi-Time Farm in Orange Lake. In the 9 years we have been in existence, we have grown to15 horses, 3 arenas and over 60 clients. Therapeutic riding has become my 1st love; I want to help as many people as possible with disabilities to overcome their challenges in life. I sadly had to give up my training & show barn in order to continue to grow Stirrups ‘n Strides, but this is now where my heart lies and I have a very special daughter that gives me the strength to continue on this wondrous path that helps make miracles happen.

Debbie Parker, Barn Manager

Debbie was born in Orlando, FL and grew up in Grenada, MS.  She had horses as a teenager and young adult.  Debbie moved back to Florida after the passing of her mother in 1999.  She has worked for Wal-Mart since 2007 where they encourage employees to volunteer.  Debbie started volunteering in 2010 as a side walker where she quickly fell in love with the program.  Betty encouraged her to help teach the class with her and soon she talked to her about becoming one of the next instructors.  With the help of Betty and Stacey Spence, Debbie learned to ride English.  In 2013, she became an instructor and has come to love being at Stirrups ‘n Strides.  “To see the change in the riders right before your eyes is more rewarding than I can say.  I encourage anyone to come and volunteer and try it.”

Anita Gossett, Volunteer Co-Coordinator (Recruitment & Training)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elaine Richter, Treasurer

While growing up, Elaine lived in Brooklyn and East Meadow, NY.  During her marriage, Elaine and husband Bruce moved from Brooklyn, NY to Fair Lawn, NJ where they lived and raised a family. Elaine was the Parent Support Coordinator at the Paramus Vocational High School Program that her daughter Becky attended, where she coordinated services with the student’s parents. She also served on the Board of Directors for Morris County, NJ ARC for 3 years. Her daughter Becky had been riding in a PATH therapeutic riding program with great results in New York.

Elaine and Becky moved to Ocala, FL, in 2010 after her husband Bruce passed away. She went back to work as a Customer Service Manager for Alpex Wheel Company, a manufacturing company that made diamond and borazon grinding wheels.

Elaine searched out just the right therapeutic riding program for Becky to continue her riding and they found it at Stirrups ‘n Strides! Becky began riding again and Elaine became a volunteer in 2010. Elaine was asked to join the board as Treasurer in October, 2016.

“My daughter Becky rides with Stirrups ‘n Strides and I felt it was very important to become involved. Not only is it an excellent therapeutic riding facility, we have experienced such a genuine feeling of caring, friendship and family at Stirrups ‘n Strides. ”

Lorraine Simon, Volunteer Co-Coordinator (Administration) & Webmaster

Lorraine grew up as part of a French Canadian family in a very small Native-American village called Oka, located about forty miles northwest of Montreal, Canada. Lorraine spoke strictly French until the age of twelve when she was sent to an English school to learn the language. She later attended McGill University while working for large international companies as either an Administrative Assistant or a Computer Software Trainer. In 1999, she joined her husband, Richard, in his many business ventures. They welcomed the arrival of their wonderful daughter, Lianne, in 2001.

In 2004, the family moved to Bermuda to pursue their business interests and lived there for eight years. It was during this time that Lorraine and Lianne discovered the many joys of therapeutic riding, where they volunteered several times a week, for many years. It was also in Bermuda that Lianne became an avid rider and Lorraine became a horse show mom, getting to the barn at 5:00 AM to braid and lunge Lianne’s pony for classes that started at 8:00 AM. Lorraine is definitely happy those days are over!

In 2011, the family moved to Ocala, Florida, the Horse Capital of the World, in order to give their daughter the chance to enhance her riding skills. It wasn’t long until both Lorraine and Lianne found themselves volunteering at Stirrups ‘n Strides. Lorraine started as a leader and side-walker but soon was asked to become a Volunteer Coordinator. Not long after, she took on the Webmaster responsibilities. Lorraine truly enjoys giving of her time to such a worthy cause. Seeing the smiles on the riders’ and volunteers’ faces is all she needs to know she’s in the right place.