Vicki started her life with horses as a small child with lots of trail riding, horse camping, and showing western horses with her dad in Southern California. She later became interested in Hunters and Jumpers, training with Mary Gatti and her wonderful team at Rainbow Canyon Ranch. In 1988, she moved to Santa Cruz to persue a BA in Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In 1992 she started her professional career and business Ridgemark Farm, LLC while attending UCSC while working as Assistant Trainer for Penny Wahler at Loma Alta Farm. After taking a couple of years off to have her two wonderful sons Nick and Theo, she reopened Ridgemark Farm at Home at Last Farm in Aptos. Since then, Vicki's students have won numerous State and National year end hunter and equitation awards. Vicki prides herself on her commitment to continuing education within the horse industry. She regularly attends clinics and seeks counsel from 1988 Olympic Silver medalist Greg Best, 1996 Olympic Course Designer Linda Allen, and multiple time National Champion Hunter/Jumper Trainer Jim Hagman from Elvenstar, Inc.
Over the past 6 years, Vicki has become intrigued by and devoted to the work of Buck Brannaman, and is a regular participant in his Northern California clinics. Buck's philosophy of "Gentle in what you do, firm in how you do it" resonates very much with Vicki's work with horses and also how she aims to live her life. Another favorite 'Buck-ism' of hers is "Making a good horse is just like eating an elephant….you do it one bite at a time". This saying of his fits so nicely with the One Day At A Time mantra she practices in her AA program of the past 5 years.
In 2013 she began to study with Sport Psychologist Carrie Wicks and completed Dr. Carrie's THE W(I)NNER'S CIRCLE program. Since then, she has begun to weave the principles of Dr. Carrie's Mindfulness Based Horsemanship into the lessons she teaches with her Hunter/Jumper clients. She also completed programs of Equine Alchemy with Lisa Murrell and Creative Awakenings International with Sheri Gaynor that were pivotal turning points in her life. Through her work with Dr. Carrie, Buck, Lisa and Sheri, she created a program that she is very proud of called 'Horse(wo)manship'. Using round pen exercises, horse observation, journaling, and meditation, Horse(wo)manship participants delve deep with the help of the horses to explore their inner life and answer the deep questions that each day on this earth brings.
In the Spring of 2015, Vicki became a Certified EAGALA Equine Specialist. In reflecting on this retrospectively, see now sees this work as the culmination of the deep soul searching mission that she embarked upon 5 years ago. In this, her very own 'dark night of the soul', everything in her life that she had previously clung to had been stripped away. Traditional horsetraining was feeling extremely unsatisfying, yet the thought of a work life that did not include horses made her feel tremendously depressed. After many doors closed, the EAGALA door opened, allowing her to fulfill the longings of her soul and using her vast experience with the horses in a therapeutic model that she truly believes can change anyone's life if they have even a twinkling of desire to move toward a new path.
In June of 2018 when plans to attend a horse show with her training clients fell apart, she took an impromptu 3 day trip to Troncones, Mexico. Little did she know how that short trip would change her life. She loved it so much she began to inquire about spending more time there. A serendipitous connection from 30 years prior gifted her an gorgeous oceanfront house practically for free (with pool, maid, and surfspot right out front I might add!). It was too good of a deal to pass up, and she and her husband moved there for 3 months that Fall. She fell madly in love with that little town of 500 people, and the trip transformed her physically, spiritually, and emotionally. During it she realized that she was ready to stop running Ridgemark Farm in the way she had been for the past 30 years and focus on creating a new part time life in Mexico. Over the next few months she sold her truck, horse trailer, two of three horses, all the horse show equipment....and spent most of December in tears. She emerged however with an even stronger commitment to live a new kind of life, and began to vision and create intentions for what her heart was calling her to do.
This is where the idea for the Horses Heal Hearts Wellness Retreats was born. Combining her expertise with horses, education in Psychology, training in Equine Assisted Learning, and the spiritual principle of Service that she's learned from the 12 Steps, facilitating retreats that lead women to find THEIR true calling was the obvious next step for her. And what a wonderful venue to do it in....her new found home in Troncones, Mexico!!
Click here to view Troncones on the map....it's only a 3 hour flight from LAX. Leave California in the morning, and by 4:30 in the afternoon you'll be on the beach soaking up that warm Mexican sun, on your way to learning how horses can heal YOUR heart!
BA Psychology, University of California Santa Cruz
Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) Certified Equine Specialist
Graduate of Intro to Equine Assisted Coaching and Leadership Program, Equine Alchemy
Graduate of Introduction to Eponaquest, Creative Awakenings International
Vicki manages Ridgemark Farm LLC, a horse training and riding instruction business in Santa Cruz, CA. Click here to read more about Ridgemark. She also runs Horses Heal Hearts, which provides Equine Assisted Learning and Coaching to both children and adults.
Horses Heal Hearts facilitates women’s groups using meditation, yoga, art, immersion in nature, and Equine Assisted Learning to help women process and transcend the challenges of their busy lives.
She has collaborated with Hospice of Santa Cruz County and Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Services to facilitate EAL groups for children enrolled in their Grief Support Services.
Vicki has also partnered with Dr. Lily Rich, PhD to provide EAGALA Certified Psychotherapy to private clients. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA with her husband of 25 years and is an active member of the 12 Step Recovery Community there.