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About Us

Stepping Stones Riding Program was created with the intention of having a ranch that welcomed horses needing a home and people needing horses.  To fulfill its mission, public lessons are offered.  These lessons provide the funds necessary to offer a full riding and horse care program to those unable to pay for experiences with horses.  Spending time with horses and their environment offers our students the opportunity to gain a sense of accomplishment, self confidence and responsibility that may be absent from their daily lives.   Stepping Stones is currently located in the lovely Santa Rosa Valley and is offering its program at no charge to clients of Many Mansions, a local nonprofit organization that provides low income housing as well as to residents of the HOMES organization.  It is our belief that people can help horses and that horses can help people.  Stepping Stones has been in the minds and hearts of its co-founders since before its actual beginning in January 2012.   We are a small, intimate program offering low cost lessons, thorough instructions, friendly staff and volunteers - all without the beaurocracy associated with large organizations.  Our students progress in their skills up to and including ability to participate in judged horsemanship events should they wish to.  It's a win for both sides!


Meaghan Shaffer - Co-Founder, Horse Trainer, and presently, Head Riding Instructor

Meaghan has made horses her career.  She began cleaning stalls in middle school in exchange for lessons, then worked for a trainer in exchange for the opportunity to compete in horse shows, which evolved into a position as an assistant trainer, and then she began training on her own.  Meaghan is the current Senior Instructor of Stepping Stones.  Most recently, Meaghan has become interested in the therapeutic value of horses.  She became certified through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) as a riding instructor for those with disabilities, as well as earning certification as an equine professional through EAGALA - the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.  Meaghan is married to Benji Zavala and has two children, Natalie and Jaxson and two dogs - Olive and Bailey. They all enjoy the outdoors and horses as a family.


Nancy McChesney - Co-Founder & Volunteer

Nancy has loved horses since she was a little girl.  She bravely took up horseback riding as an adult.  Nancy is a dedicated volunteer. She is a wonderful addition to the ranch staff, helping youngsters in lessons, grooming and exercising the horses, and leading the volunteer work days.  When Nancy isn't busy with the program paperwork, you'll probably find her with a good book or in the garden.  Nancy is married to Mike McChesney and  has two lovely adult daughters.                                                                                                                                             

We are anxiously awaiting specific information about each of our newly elected Board Members. As we receive that information, we will post it here. In the meantime enjoy reminiscing about the many evenings spent enjoying the performances of the exceptional ladies whose images are shown below.

Amy Yandell - President


Nicole Richardson - Treasurer

Anna Toy-Palmer - Secretary


Rochelle Holden - Member


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