Kaitlyn Pickett, Caretaker
Start Date: 2018
Gray Kyle Graves, Barn Manager/Trainer
Start Date: 2010
HDR Barn Manager and trainer, Gray Kyle-Graves grew up loving horses, and began riding as early as she can remember. From a smiling toddler, sharing a saddle with her mom, to a horse crazy kid, coming up in the hunter/jumper world, she has always felt a connection with, and a calling to work with horses. Since 2009, Gray has been working with the wonderful herd at Happy Dog Ranch, and has had the opportunity to learn from countless teachers, both four-legged, and two-legged.
Gray believes that working with horses is an endless journey, and she strives to always be a student of the horse, first and foremost. She has been supported in that by her work with horseman Mark Rashid, with whom she has had the honor to work since 2009, and has assisted as a student instructor since the fall of 2014. Her other human teachers include Linda Tellington-Jones, Tracy Vroom, Jim Masterson, James Shaw, and others, who have helped her experience new levels of understanding in her work as a trainer, as a horsemanship coach, and as an equine bodyworker.
Gray strives to offer softness to every horse, and brings gratitude to every day she gets to share with them.
Bernadette Spillane, CEO/Executive Director
Start Date: 2016
Happy Dog Ranch Foundation Co-Founders, John and Bernadette Spillane, met in Omaha, while both attending Creighton University. They married during their senior year, graduated, had their first son, Jonathan, and moved to Austin, Texas where John was starting Law School at UT. Following Law School they came to Colorado, where Bernadette's family lived, and there they had their second son, Dominic. Bernadette ran a martial arts school for 18 years in southwest Denver, while John pursued law in many forms, more recently concentrating on land development. In 2004 John gave Bernadette a horse for their 26th Anniversary, and that was the beginning of Happy Dog Ranch.
Jonathan Spillane, Outreach Coordinator
Start Date: 2007
Jonathan Spillane, John and Bernadette's son, helps coordinate our visiting school groups and runs our outreach programming. Five days a week you can find Jonathan leading a herd of two-foots and four-foots all over HDR. On his off time, he and his wife enjoy camping and running marathons.
Louise Thayer, Weekend Barn Manager
Start Date: 2016
Louise Thayer is HDR's weekend barn manager. She previously volunteered in 2012 and has been waiting for the right opportunity to return ever since then. Louise has worked for almost a decade with trainers Mark Rashid and Crissi McDonald to further her skills within the various aspects of horsemanship she subscribes to. She has been professionally employed in the worlds of both horses and hunting dogs since moving to the United States from Wales in 1999. Her passion for horses stemmed from the first (on lead rein) riding lesson taken with her twin sister, Catherine Latham, at the age of six. Both were instantly hooked on horses and both now work within the same spheres of considerate horsemanship on two separate continents. Louise credits Mark Rashid with first opening the door to the art of Aikido and how it pertains to everything in life. She has brought this concept of blending energy to all of her work and has been at various times a Guest Ranch manager, bird dog trainer, professional scout and miniature horse wrangler! Through her exposure to the various modalities of healing work offered to horses (and people) here at HDR, Louise developed a strong interest in Craniosacral work and has gone on to study Biodynamic Craniosacral work, with teachers Ryan Hallford and Shea Stewart, for both humans and horses. Louise is a poet and writer and is involved with the fledgling "Writers inspired by Nature" group forming at the ranch. She has two of her own bird dogs, a German Shorthaired Pointer named Grace and her half sister, Eeny, along with a foster Pointer named Lola who is here to benefit from the Happy Dog vibe. Her two horses are current residents in Dinah's herd. Peantu is a 20 or so year old mustang who has had quite the colorful life and who now appreciates most forms of bodywork and human love. Pete is a 12 year old Paint who, through no fault of his own, remains an unstarted project horse of great potential. You can find Louise in the barn Thursday-Sunday, feeding the horses and caring for the little critters. She's currently working one restart project horse for Happy Dog Ranch, the very handsome Windtalker. Apart from the horses she thoroughly approves of the cuteness that is Merida the sheep and the most adorable vulture chicken - Robber Baron. Her arch nemesis is McTavish the Alpaca, although secretly she hopes to win his heart.
Program / Program Planning