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A Little About Us

Time spent with horses teaches compassion, hard work, dealing with success and failure, and many other character building values. Perhaps the most important aspect is the connection between horse and rider, an element that is unique to equestrian sports. Horsemanship lessons teach adversity and develop invaluable life experience through relationship building with these incredible animals.

Here at strides our mission is to provide a safe and fun learning environment that is welcoming to riders of all levels and backgrounds.


Meet Our Team:


Mikkayla Myers

Instructor and Riding School Manager

Mikkayla Myers has an extensive background working with all age ranges from children to senior riders. Riding and training horses has been a passion of Mikkayla’s since she was 9 years old. She has ridden in the Thunder Mountain Pro Rodeo for the past several years and has over 6 years of 4H experience. Throughout highschool and college she has volunteered as an assistant basketball coach and understands that a great coach has the power to change a person's life. Beginning around the age of 16 she began giving horse riding lessons and pursued a career working with youth in Cowlitz County. Mikkayla has worked at a local daycare center and worked with Longview Parks and Recreation to build a relationship with children and their families to understand recreational and fundamental needs for local children. Having focused her college years on understanding and learning child development, socio emotional health and the advantages of hippotherapy, Mikkayla is beyond excited to implement her knowledge to Strides Horsemanship. With the rapid decline of youth involved in recreational activities, Mikkayla feels compelled to do her part to engage youth in learning natural horsemanship. She believes that horsemanship follows a person beyond the barn, it changes the way we perceive the world. Mikkayla’s goal is to teach values that will create strong, confident and fearless leaders for our future.

Mikkayla is our "boots on the ground" making sure both horse and client daily needs are being met. Mikkayla's strengths are building confidence in her students and creating amazing experiences for every student.

Call Mikkayla to book your first lesson:  (360) 442-1695


Samantha Gilchrist

Instructor & Camps Team Member

Samantha started as a working student then later joined 4-h, and soon thereafter Pony Club and IEA.  After she aged out of 4-h she became a leader in the club, she also started assisting and eventually leading parks n rec classes at the barn, teaching private lessons, Pony Club lessons and 4-h clinics as well as assisting with training horses. Samantha went through the levels of pony club rather quickly, and is a certified C1 Dressage, C2 Traditional and HB, and would love to get back into Pony Club as a horse master member at some point in the future. She did a little bit of everything with 4-h, western, english, jumping, games etc, but her real strengths in instructing and training are in the english disciplines with dressage and jumping being the definite favorites!

Samantha developed a strong passion and love for teaching pretty quickly, and has been still loving it for 6 years now. Although she has taught all ages from 5 years old to senior adults, she has a deep passion for working with tweens and teens. She finds it extremely rewarding to be a voice in the craziness that can be a young adult’s life, to be an influential part in helping teens to become independent, kind, compassionate and confident adults. 

Samantha strongly believes that through kids learning excellent horsemanship, kindness, integrity and confidence, those skills will trickle into every part of their life and those around them and will eventually change their communities and the world for the better.


Kelly Parker

Events Manager

Kelly has had a passion for horses her entire life. Her grandparents were heavily involved in the Cowlitz County horsemanship community, and they passed that love and knowledge down to her. Her primary focus has largely been on project and rescue horses, which has fueled her desire to learn everything she can about equine care. She studies hoof care and equine nutrition and loves learning from others and sharing what she knows. Kelly believes that horsemanship is a lifelong commitment, and one is never finished learning.

Kelly works with our sponsors as well as plans and manages all of Strides Horse Shows at the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds. Kelly is our newest team member, and we couldn't be more grateful to have her go-getter attitude on our side. 

If you have a horse show or event question you can reach Kelly at


Shirah Kosydar


Shirah's passion for horses was discovered at an early age which forged the path for her to take her 1st riding lesson before her 6th birthday. Soon after it became her dream to own her own
horse and she worked tirelessly to reach that goal which she was able to do by her 13 th birthday.

By age 15 she began working at a horsemanship school and it was at this school that Shirah was introduced to the world of mentoring; her own life being directly impacted by her horseback
riding instructors and the environment of learning which they fostered instilling in her some the core principles of horsemanship: patience, compassion, discipline, leadership, trust, and

Shirah went on to become certified through CHA and taught horsemanship for several years as an instructor at the very school that had such a positive impact on her own life.

It is through this lens that Shirah believes horses offer the perfect conduit for personal growth in every rider, regardless of what stage of life they are in. A lifelong student herself, Shirah is eager to continue her own horsemanship education with the
pursuit of jumping and has a special interest in hippotherapy. She shares the belief as many others here at Strides that there is always more to learn, and it is with that mindset she is excited
to share her passion for the equine world in a safe and fun environment. 


Elisabeth Sandoz

Elisabeth started her love for horses a little later than some, at age 14. After joining “horseless horse” 4H and leasing her first horse (# of years later),  she would eventually be running for Rodeo Queen and winning Miss Congeniality. She loved the rodeo and learned to rope under the teaching of Bill Merz. After graduating high school, Elisabeth attended Canyonview Equestrian College from 2007-2009, where she was able to gain experience and training in almost every discipline. On the weekdays in college, there were fellowship rides  and weekends provided opportunities to teach horseback riding.

After graduation, a job cooking at a kids camp gave her a chance to unlock another favorite past-time! She met her now-husband Kaleb, and they are raising two wonderful boys. She is very involved with her church community and serves in a variety of volunteer positions. During the summers, Elisabeth has stayed connected to the horse world by helping at the Cowlitz County Rodeo. Prioritizing time at home with her family continues to be extremely important, but she is excited to be in a stage of life where she can return to teaching lessons and watching kids grow their skills in being horse men and women. Elisabeth has a passion to teach kids and adults how to be safe and to have fun in riding but also to encourage each other and be kind in the horse world.


Leilani Nichols

Owner, Doallogist

Making horses accessible to those that do not own them or know very little about them is Leilani’s dream. Not only is time spent with horses valuable in so many ways to humans, but educating people about horses can only benefit our local horse community.

         Leilani will be the first to tell you that horses “saved” her, and she does not know where her path would’ve led without them. Of course, she has always been passionate about them, but the values they instilled have positively formed her life in every aspect.

         Leilani has a degree in animal science and worked for 5 years as a large animal certified veterinary technician. She also spent over a decade training horses for the public and has a great reputation in the local horse community for training outstanding all-around and barrel racing horses. Youth activities such as 4-H, FFA, and Rodeo Court had tremendous impact on her life path and are part of her "why" behind bringing Strides Horsemanship to the local community. Strides Horsemanship LLC is Leilani’s dream manifested, and she is dedicated to bring every horse and rider the best experience possible.

If Strides hosts an event, buys a new horse, builds a structure, or upgrades equipment or tack, Leilani is the lady behind it. She makes sure the ship is steering in the right direction and leads & inspires the team. 

If you need to reach Leilani email

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I can’t say enough words as to how amazing Strides Horsemanship is and Mikayla Myers (Paitynns instructor). It has been Paitynns dream to ride horses and possibly someday be a “Rodeo Queen” and I can’t thank them enough.  If anyone is looking for horse training, look no further 🏆

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Mikkayla Myers is an amazing instructor. Her knowledge is so deep that an hour spent with her will not only teach you how to ride, but all about horse behavior(s), composition, and movement. I'm on the other end of the age spectrum as a senior citizen student and Mikkayla is helping me build confidence back at a pace that is just perfect. It's a joy to be at Strides Horsemanship!

My daughter has attended Strides since we moved to Longview this past summer. Mikkayla and Leilani have been so welcoming to her and being around the horses has helped her quite a bit with her anxiety problems. Her fondness for one horse in particular (Major) is infectious and I now find myself bringing him treats whenever she goes to Strides. I highly recommend any beginner to intermediate riders looking for lessons to get with these ladies at Strides. - Wayne

I can't say enough good things about Strides Horsemanship. Our experience there has been nothing but positive, the instructors are so knowledgeable, as well as so compassionate and positive. They really know how to relate to each student, and we're so thankful that this is even a thing in our community. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in anything equestrian, to check out Strides. -Matthew

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