Staff

 

Executive Director

Tish Dipman

Tish Dipman is a seventh generation Oakland native who was raised in Pleasant Hill. The oldest of three girls, Tish started showing interest in horses at age four and by age nine she was taking formal lessons and began showing in local shows throughout Northern California. Throughout her life she has ridden, leased, and owned many horses. By age seventeen, Tish was showing and training event horses professionally.

Her life was changed forever when, at the age of eighteen, Tish started taking care of a little girl with Autism whose mother had passed away from cancer. Within that year her focus changed from horses to working exclusively with the special needs community. Tish has worked as a 1:1 with many special needs children in both their school and home environments. She spent seven years working at the Recreation Center for the Handicapped, now known as the Janey Pomeroy Center, before moving on to the Bridge School and B.O.K. Ranch.

Tish married her longtime boyfriend Scott in Las Vegas on 08-08-08. Baby makes three, Scott and Tish were very excited to welcome their Baby Benjamin into the world the following year, and then baby Beau three years after that!

Community Service is an important part of Tish’s day to day life. Currently, Tish sits on several community based Board of Directors, including: Animal Assisted Happiness, San Mateo County Horseman’s Association, and Washington Elementary School’s PTA. In addition to volunteering as Washington Elementary SEDAC (Special Education Department Advisory Committee) Representative, and Community Gatepath-Parent Advisory Committee Participant. Tish is a PATH Intl. Certified Instructor, PATH Intl. Certified Mentor, and a CHA Certified Instructor.

Tish can be reached at director@bokranch.org.

 

Office Manager

 

Sharon Doubek

Sharon Doubek grew up in farm country surrounded by horses in Western New York State. She fantasized about having a horse of her own, but it wasn’t until her daughter, Ivana, showed an interest in horses did Sharon’s dream come true. Ivana had been taking riding lessons for a few years and participated in Hunter/Jumper shows when a teacher recommended that it was a good time for Ivana to have a horse of her own.

The horse Sharon and Ivana found was an Arab gelding, Cody that had been rescued from an abusive training situation. When Sharon first saw Cody running around the round pen with his neck arched and his nostrils flaring, she was reminded of the Godolphin Arab in the book, King of the Wind. Cody was smart, willing to please but because of his sensitivity and lack of training, he was not ready to become the hunter/jumper Ivana wanted. Ivana went on to lease other horses and compete in A Circuit Jumping and Equitation shows.

Meanwhile, Sharon fell in love with Cody and discovered Parelli Natural Horsemanship. It was a perfect training method for both Sharon and Cody because it requires patience, understanding the way horses think, and concentration on becoming safe and confident on the ground before attempting to ride. It has been a slow process but now Cody is a more confident, well-behaved gentleman.

Sharon’s love for horses continues to grow because of her personal experience with their gentle, healing nature. Sharon is eager to bring her project/business management skills, her commitment to children with special needs and her love of horses to B.O.K. Ranch as the Equine Administration Assistant.

 

Volunteer Coordinator

 

Liz Beeson

Born and raised in Northern California, Liz comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers. As a child she would often spend winters in Jalisco, Mexico on her Grandparents Ranch. She took her first riding lesson at age 9 and by 11 she owned her first horse.

After studying theater and living in New York City she came back to California and rediscovered her love of horses. She has volunteered for the Mounted Units of the San Francisco Police and Los Angeles Park Ranger Service as a first responder.

She was also an instructor and primary care taker for a herd of 16 horses at Camp Max Straus where she taught at risk youth to horseback ride.

 

"I knew I wanted to continue working with horses and children at that point so I researched other equine professions with kids and when I found therapeutic riding I was immediately inspired and was excited to find a ranch close by...BOK Ranch. I started volunteering and immediately knew this was the place I wanted to be."

 

 

Administration/Webmaster

 

Jamie Morris

Jamie began riding at the age of four, and started volunteering with BOK in 1992.  Over the years she became more and more involved with the program, and before moving out of state in 2001, she was working as BOK's office manager and volunteer coordinator.

After the move she continued maintaining the BOK website, and she adopted one of BOK's founding Fjords, PJ, when he retired in 2006 (pictured is PJ with Jamie in the volunteer class at a 1998 horse show).

Jamie now lives on a farm in Washington state with her horse, dogs, and cats, but hopes to return to California someday.  When not spending time with her animals, she enjoys work as a web designer and 3D artist, and is happy to be able to continue her involvement with BOK.

 

PATH Instructor

 

Ashley McIntyre

Ashley originally joined the BOK Ranch 10 years ago, as the head instructor. After returning from a seven-year hiatus, Ashely has returned to re-join the BOK team. Ashley and her husband now live in San Jose with their two children Dylan and Alyvia. When Ashley isn’t busy horsing around she coaches volleyball and basketball at a local school near her home. Ashley grew up riding in Southern California and has owned and loved horses her whole life. She currently owns and trains her own Westphalian gelding, Celsius. Ashley’s daughter Aly is now taking after her Mom and practices her riding every chance she gets. Ashley is loved by all her students for her wealth of knowledge, giving spirit, and compassion for her students.

 

 

PATH Instructor

 

Francoise Vincent

Francoise Vincent describes her experience on a horse as one of spiritual oneness with life and nature. Growing up on a farm in the French Alps, her budding passion for horses was shared with her cherished grandfather. A horse lover himself and avid rider, he transmitted his equestrian knowledge to Francoise early on, and mentored her through her formal horseback riding lessons which she started at eight years old. As an adult she continued to ride and eventually rescued a spirited Arabian horse with which she developed a deep connection and a great friendship. The two enjoyed many endurance and pleasure rides through the rolling hills of Northern California.

As a young adult, Francoise had discovered her second life-long passion, and had become a yoga practitioner and soon after, a yoga instructor. Through the practice of yoga she developed a deep intuition and was astonished to discover how it enhanced her communication with the horse and consequently improved the equestrian experience for both. She knew that yoga helps develop a strong physical core, which is also essential to riding. As a result, Francoise now combines these two practices, yoga and horsemanship, and helps riders commune with their four-legged friend.

When she started volunteering at BOK Ranch several years ago, Francoise was greatly moved when she witnessed that students with special needs developed a rapport with the horse and began to thrive in ways often inaccessible to them otherwise. This realization inspired her to become a PATH- certified therapeutic riding instructor and to transmit her passions for the art of riding and the art of yoga to students of all ages and capabilities. Francoise appreciates every opportunity to work with students, horses, and with the dedicated volunteers and staff at BOK ranch.
 

 

PATH Instructor

 

Taylor Singmaster

When Taylor Singmaster was 5 years old she took her first trail ride with her father during a vacation in Salt Lake City, Utah. She immediately wanted a horse and made a deal with her dad, if she took lessons every week for a year she could then have a horse of her own.

Over 20 years later Taylor is still riding every week. Since that day her equestrian accomplishments include being named champion at the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the NSBA World Championship Show, competing for the University of South Carolina's NCAA Equestrian team and becoming a PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor.

Taylor's passion for the special needs community began when her retired show horse, Bentley, moved to a small therapy farm in her home state of Pennsylvania. Taylor's life was changed upon meeting the family's son, Jack, who has Down Syndrome. Her extensive volunteer work began with Camp PALS, The Congratulations Project, 100cameras, UP Academy and many other nonprofit organizations. Now, she is working with a broader demographic and has found her true calling sharing her own personal love for horses with her students.

 

 

Christiana Merritt

Christiana is a lifelong horse lover who has always had a passion for teaching others how to care for and interact with animals and to take the time to experience firsthand the natural world around them. She has long appreciated the healing power of horses and therapeutic riding to help both children and adults improve their physical and emotional health and reconnect with themselves and each other. Christiana grew up in the East Bay and started taking riding lessons at a barn in the Oakland hills at age nine. At age thirteen, she started leasing a horse named Tampico, a sweet Morgan/Arabian cross who quickly became her best friend and equine mentor. She continued riding and caring for Tampico for the next twenty years, until he passed away in 2015 after a long and happy life.

Christiana worked for many years at a small nonprofit educational farm with several horses and a variety of other farm animals that provided humane education and animal assisted therapy programs to children with special needs and youth at-risk. She also worked for several years in the veterinary field, training with both large and small animal veterinarians; she has experience with animals as small as hedgehogs and as large as elephants. Her love of working with both children and animals inspired her to pursue a B.Sc. degree in Animal Studies with a special focus on humane education, animal assisted activities and animal assisted therapy.

Christiana moved to the Peninsula in 2013 with her husband, dog, and bunny and began to volunteer at B.O.K. Ranch just a month later. She immediately loved volunteering and was amazed by the entire community of loving staff, volunteers, horses families, and participants at B.O.K.; it wasn’t long until she knew that this was what she wanted to do with the rest of her career! After more than three years of volunteering, Christiana decided she was ready to pursue her certification as a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor. Christiana is thrilled to join the staff at B.O.K. and continue her relationship with all the amazing people and horses at B.O.K.

 

 

PATH Instructor

 

Kathy Mallory

Kathy Mallory and her husband and two young children moved from Boston, Massachusetts to Palo Alto, California in 1992. She grew up in Massachusetts, where she went to college and majored in outdoor education and went on to teach at a traveling school called the Audubon Expedition Institute.

She has backpacked through many of the US mountain ranges, paddled the coast of Florida and across Portugal, ski-toured through Yellowstone Nat. Park, climbed the Swiss Alps, cycled through Spain, and hiked the West Coast of Scotland. When not in California she and her husband are paddling the Aegean off the coast of Greece.

After moving to the west coast, Kathy took up horseback riding for fun and ended up riding for 15 years, during which time she competed in the Adult Amateur Hunter 3ft Division in shows around Woodside and Portola Valley. Kathy has owned 4 different horses but owes her success in the show ring to her lease, Prince, an Appendix Quarter Horse.

A runner, swimmer and biker, Kathy is certified in the Burdenko Method of Physical Rehabilitation, that uses a progression of water and land exercises to help athletes recover from injury. Kathy began volunteering at B.O.K as a way to work with and help more people and to be around horses again. She is now a Certified PATH Instructor and Volunteer at B.O.K.

 

 

Deborah McCarley

Deborah grew up in the Adirondack Mountains near Old Forge, New York. She always had an affinity for horses and used to bring the horses from a local trail-riding outfit down to a stream to drink. After studying marine biology at Oregon State and science education and University of Virginia, she moved to the Bay Area in 1986 to work at Syntex/Roche Bioscience as a research scientist studying cell signaling.

When Deborah’s daughter became interested in horses, she took the opportunity to reenter the horse world. Deborah has worked as an instructor and horse manager for another local therapeutic riding program for 12 years. She is also very involved in the Mid-Cal region of the USPC and has been serving as the region’s Horse Management Organizer for 4 years. In her personal riding Deborah is interested in classical dressage. During her non-barn time, Deborah works as an instructional assistant at a local elementary school.

Deborah enjoys hiking, sailing, traveling, and spending time with her family. She is excited to be working with everyone at BOK Ranch and for the opportunity to share her love of horses and their healing powers with others.

 

PATH Instructor

 

Natori Coleman

Natori’s diverse experiences with leadership, people, and animals starts with her 4-H filled childhood. From the ages 10 - 16, Natori took in "unwanted horses," including Premarin babies. Natori also 4-H networking and competitions to spread awareness about Premarin Horses.

Natori has lived on 3 continents and traveled to over 15 countries to complete internships, continuing education, and certifications relating to:

  • Wildlife conservation

  • Special Ed teaching

  • Photography

  • Horsemanship

  • Leadership development

  • Wild horse activism

  • Energetic bodywork for animals and humans

Natori is grateful to be working with B.O.K. Ranch. Her inspiration comes from the students and staff of B.O.K. working to achieve life goals through experiential learning and riding horses.

 

Stable Assistant

 

Megan Dinsmore

Megan is a native of the Bay Area.  Her love of riding and horses began at the age of 7 when her family would take their annual trip down to a guest ranch near Santa Barbara.  For the past several years she has worked with the wranglers at a ranch in Bridgeport on the other side of the Yosemite range with their annual Spring cattle work. She follows the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) and rodeo circuits along with attending the concerts of her favorite country performers.  She enjoys both volunteering and working at the BOK.  It fulfills her dream of doing what she loves the most which is to be with and care for horses.

 

 

Other Instructors and Therapists that facilitate people

with special needs at the Horse Park at Woodside:

 

Dr. Angela Sherman

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Angela Sherman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist (PSY23689), with a long standing interest in human-animal interactions. She has extensive experience working with individuals with behavioral and emotional difficulties as well as learning and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Sherman is committed to helping people increase self-awareness and come to healthier ways of interacting with the world around them and believes that horses are a good match for helping with this goal. For this work, Dr. Sherman is certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). She is also a previous BOK Ranch PATH certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor.  For more information on Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning, contact Dr. Sherman at (650) 248-4072 or changeyourlead@gmail.com.

 

Julie Freschi

Physical Therapist

Hippotherapy has always been Moraga-native Julie Freschi’s dream occupation. To this end she combines her passion for and knowledge of horses with her career as a physical therapist. Julie gained her foundational horse knowledge in Pony Club. She competed in Eventing during high school. As a University of Oregon undergrad, Julie founded the nationally-competitive Intercollegiate Equestrian Team. She later attended Boston University, earning a Masters of Science in Physical Therapy. Her initial decision to move East was heavily influenced by her desire to ride there. During her time East Julie strengthened her interest in dressage through her assignment as a working student. She continues to enjoy dressage with her leased mare Fabbi. Julie’s interest in working with children with special needs stems from her service in her church’s Children’s Ministry Class, specially designed for children with special needs. She has since helped establish similar programs in Kenya, also serving as a mentor. She currently works as a full-time physical therapist at the Hope Technology School in Palo Alto, California.

 

Horse Sensing

Sally Broder

Dr. Broder began her professional equine career at the age of 15. She went to work for a horse trainer in Rancho Sante Fe, California and spent the next several years working with beautiful show horses. Even back then, she felt the healing power in horses and was developing ideas about how to pass this to others. 15 years later she embarked on her career in the fields of, first, substance abuse treatment then more broadly clinical psychology. She has focused her career on treating individuals who have experienced trauma and felt the effects of that in their life paths. With Horse Sensing, she brings together her clinical expertise and equine expertise to facilitate the healing process in her clients.