Equine Align Academy Faculty are a diverse group of equine specialists, each bringing their own particular expertise into play to deliver training events.
Sara Stenson, Equine Align©️ Founder & CEO, CEMT, CNMT
Sara grew up riding fences and herding cattle on an 8,000-acre angus cattle ranch in eastern Wyoming. She spent countless hours playing horse tag, riding double through streams and ponds and sneaking a ride on “Big Red” whenever opportunity presented itself. She lives with two rescues that teach her the language of horse on a daily basis. She used to train them and soon realized they were training her. It’s all lessons in life.
After receiving a Shiatsu massage treatment from a friend, Sara immediately became an apprentice of Barefoot Shiatsu and studied with Shizuko Yamamoto in the 70′s. She later received her Certification in Massage Therapy and Body Insight Neuromuscular Re-education in 1995, studied equine bodywork from a certified Rolfer and continues to study CranioSacral Therapy with the Upledger Institute. In the mid 90′s she decided to apply her unique approach to horses.
Sara’s equine bodywork and biomechanics practice is a blend of many studies and amazing teachers she has encountered along the way. She believes that change should never be forced upon a body; rather the body must be allowed to find its natural alignment and rhythm through relaxation. Sara teaches those principles so that participants can find them within their own body/mind and then influence their horses to do the same.
Sara is a co-founder of Shen Tao T’ai Chi and Rocky Mountain T’ai Chi Ch’uan. She has been a student, practitioner, and teacher of the Yang Style Short Form since that the late 70′s. Sara taught T’ai Chi at the Dali Lama’s 1997 Conference on Education at Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO. She created T’ai Chi for Horsemen clinics and released a DVD entitled “T’ai Chi Chi Gung – An Ancient Art for Horsemen.” Working with the rider and the horse she helps facilitate freedom of movement and a quiet listening communication for the partnership through relaxation. Sara has had a bodywork practice since 1978.
She lives with her husband, Michael. They share their lives with two horses, three dogs, and three mischievous cats.
Karen Saindon, CEMT
At the age of two, Karen rode off into the sunset on her 12 hand high steed named Dandy, Actually, Dandy was last seen off in the sunset. Karen was in a snowbank. That was the beginning of her journey with horses that has continued throughout her life.
Karen grew up on a mixed farm operations in Manitoba, Canada, where they kept broodmares and wintered Standardbred racehorses that her grandfather raced for a living. By age ten, she noticed that Standardbred horses needed a flat surface in order to pace or they’d break into a gallop. In fall, when the racehorses came to the farm, she rode each one into a slope where they would break into a gallop until they reached the top. By spring, all of her grandfather’s pacers were galloping, some of which were running barrels! This was the first idea that sparked her love of equine movement.
In 2003, Karen’s horse sustained a severe sweeney injury to the shoulder, where all soft tissues completely atrophied leaving behind only skin and skeleton. Although it was suggested that her horse be euthanized, she started researching a solution and contacted Sara Stenson from The Art of Equine Bodywork. Sara guided her in the rehabilitation, and within a year, her horse completely recovered.
In 2004, Karen graduated from The Art of Equine Bodywork program and has a full practice in Canada and the United States. She has continued her education in Cranial Sacral Therapy and is currently a student of the Vluggen Institute of Equine Osteopathy, Germany. Her work has evolved into teaching in Canada and the US. Karen works with Equine Assisted Programs at home and in Europe. She is also retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Karen lives in Manitoba surrounded by her children and eight beautiful grandchildren.
Katie Cox, Farrier
“I love all things horses.” Katie has grown her knowledge, kindred spirit mentality, and patience as a horsewoman over 30 years — her life is about horses. In addition to being a farrier, leather worker, and jeweler, she is an equestrian stunt performer and has thrilled audiences circus vaulting, rodeo trick riding, liberty and mounted liberty, classical dressage, roman riding, and jumping for Cavalia, Arabian Nights, Saka Cirque & Cheval, and Cheval Art Auction in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Belgium, Singapore, SouthKorea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. She trained horses and stunt riders for Cavalia and managed their equestrian equipment and repairs from 2010-2017.
From a family of farriers, Katie had a passion for trimming and shoeing from a young age; she trimmed her first horse at 10 years old and her uncle that got her started continues to coach her shoeing skills. Katie takes an innovative approach to farriery; mixing time-proven methods with emerging technology to trim, shoe, and resolve performance and health issues. Each session begins with taking time up front to assess a horses feet and discusses what’s needed to foster optimal self-carriage with the owner. Katie understands that every horse is unique and treats them with respect and compassion.
Katie studied performance trimming in 2015 and old world show jumping shoeing at Kimball Blacksmith 2016-18.Continuing education inspires and promotes her “outside the box” thinking as she loves to learn every chance she has and regularly visits seminars and clinics for new techniques and products.
Ed Wydallis, DVM
Before and during college, Ed worked as a ranch cowboy in western Colorado, a logger (using draft horses), and a packer, guide, cook and outfitter. Tiring from all this real work, he pursued and received a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, and then a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1988, both from Colorado State University. For the last twenty years he and his wife Kathy have been engaged in a predominately equine and large animal practice in Fort Collins, Colorado. Ed’s professional interests are in equine internal medicine, equine field anesthesia and pharmacology. Ed loves teaching and sharing what he knows and has experienced in his work.
His children are wisely or unwisely following in his footsteps. Jessica recently graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Veterinary Medicine and is currently working at a clinic in Florida. His son, John, is a PHD candidate in chemistry. Ed loves to visit foreign countries and learn new languages in his time off. The top photo is Ed waiting for the Shinkansen Bullet Train in Japan.
Michael Stenson, CEMT
“Energy follows thought” – Chang San-feng
Michael Stenson’s career began as an Organization Development Consultant in the early seventies. His love of horses came much later in life, however, when he met Sara. The joke between them was that she could have a horse when he could have an airplane. Never one to play fair, or give up easily, Sara brought home a starving appaloosa colt knowing that Sage would quickly capture Michael’s heart.
At first he agreed to learn to handle Sage well enough to be able to feed and care for him but was quickly intrigued by the playful colt and soon found himself looking for a riding teacher. One thing led to another and now many, many happy hours and clinics later he lives with Sara, horses, dogs, cats, studies horsemanship and riding and finds himself humbled by the wonder of it all.
Michael’s professional career has included working as a Business Coach, a Staff Development Trainer, an Operations Manager for a television research firm, a Senior Software Engineer, a Senior Systems Analyst, an Engineering Project and Product Development Manager, an Information Systems Manager, a Chief of Information Systems, an Information Technology consultant to Fortune 500 firms, a proposal writer and he has taught a variety of computer related courses at both public and private colleges. Michael serves as the Equine©️ Align COO and teaches Yang Style Short Form T’ai Chi Ch’uan through Shen Tao Tai Chi.