Our Primary Goals & Mission
Our mission is to provide access to horses for all children teaching them horsemanship as well as life skills. From the child of a single mother to the autistic child needing a constant in their life, we are here for them all.
Thoroughbred Aftercare is an important part of our mission. Using retired racehorses as lesson horses helps to ensure that they have second careers after racing.
Horses are inherently dangerous animals, so take great measures to ensure we have a safe riding environment.
We follow the Pony Club curriculum to ensure a safe riding environment as well as to ensure we are providing quality instruction to all students. The Pony Club is the national standard of excellence when it comes to horsemanship and riding.
Valerie Mellema, Founder
Valerie grew up riding horses from the age of five. Her mother showed Missouri Fox Trotters, so the horse crazy was easily inherited. Valerie started with her first pony, Buttercup, at the age of five. She has been involved in the horse racing industry as an owner and breeder, but is now focused on Thoroughbred aftercare and showing that, yes, even Thoroughbreds can be kid’s horses.
Valerie graduated West Texas A&M University with a degree in Equine Business & Industry with a Minor in Animal Science. She is the Editor in Chief of Horse Racing Radar and has written for a variety of equestrian magazines and websites.
Valerie started Lake Fork Stables in 2017 and started a riding lesson program in 2018. Lake Fork Stables became a nonprofit in 2019 after she realized that many parents in the area simply could not afford the regular cost of riding lessons, so she created a program in which children could receive free or discounted lessons.
Audrey Tripp, Program Director
Audrey Tripp is our Program Director and all-around manager of everything horses and the barn. She joined the team in the summer of 2020.
Audrey has an eventing background but has done just about every discipline there is on the back of a horse. She has experience managing a large operation as well as groomed for an upper-level rider in Ocala, Florida. We are blessed to have her as part of our team.