Shari Patterson-Blaylock and Kari Wegenke have attained the pinnacle of success in horseback riding instruction by being named two of the Top-50 teachers in the United States.
The pair, who are instructors at the Patterson Training Center in Star Valley, received the honors last week from the American Riding Instructors Association.
“It’s not something we applied for, we were nominated by our students,” Patterson-Blaylock said. “It is a special honor.”
The ARIA, which has been certifying riding instructors and stable managers since 1984, names the Top-50 after receiving nominations from around the country.
In riding circles, ARIA certification — even at level one of the three different levels — is hard earned, which renders it prestigious in the profession.
Certified instructors, which both Patterson-Blaylock and Wegenke are, must be recertified every five years through an intensive process that involves a system of checks and balances, oral testing and reviews of submitted videos.
Those who pass are eligible to be named among the Top-50 teachers.
Patterson-Blaylock’s selection to the elite 50 was her first, and for Wegenke, it was her second. She previously won the honor in 2007, the first year it was offered.
In addition to the teaching honors Patterson-Blaylock and Wegenke received, the two had one of their horses, Reilly, named among the ARIA’s “Outstanding School Horses of the Year.”
Also Wegenke’s horse “It’s So Easy” was named to the School Horse/Pony Honor Roll.
Both Patterson-Blaylock and Wegenke teach riding to students of all ages on a 30-acre ranch site off Moonlight Drive.
Among the riding disciplines they teach are hunt seat, dressage, show jumping, western pleasure/horsemanship, reining and sidesaddle.
Last spring, Patterson-Blaylock was the high-point winner in the third level at the Arizona Dressage Association’s Spring Celebration at WestWorld Equestrian Center in Scottsdale.
Wegenke, who has worked at Patterson since 2004, has been a member of ARIA for eight years and holds a BS degree from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls where she majored in equine-related courses.
In celebration of the honors the two instructors received, Patterson Training will host an open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Star Valley training center.
During the festivities, riding demonstrations will be held at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., and there will be free pony rides for children. Also, visitors will be allowed to see several of the awarding-winning lesson horses in action.
“It will also be a chance to show off some of our students,” said Patterson-Blaylock.
Signs directing guests to the ranch will be posted.