our human instructors

Kim Szymoniak
Lead Instructor

Hey there!  I’m Kim.  I’m the founder of Horses Giving Hope To Humans and a Lead Instructor.  I’m a CHA certified instructor and I’ve been working with horses for more than 40 years – training, showing & breeding.  I’ve been instructing riders young and old for more than 20 years and I’m really looking forward to sharing with you everything I’ve learned over the years. 

Jenny Dayton
Lead Instructor

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Hi!  I’m Jenny.  I’m a Lead Instructor with the program.  I’ve been riding for many years now and I’ve helped my 3 boys learn to ride.  I’m a former preschool teacher and I just love helping riders learn and grow. 


Courtney Long
Lead Instructor

Hello – I started riding and showing when I was a child, but was pulled away when adult life kicked in.  I showed hunt seat, western & showmanship during my years in both 4H and the American Quarter Horse Association show circuit.  I’m a former math teacher and now I absolutely love teaching beginner and intermediate riding lessons. 

Elizabeth McDonald
Lead Instructor

Hey I’m Elizabeth and I’ve been teaching horsemanship for more than 12 years, starting as an instructor for the Girl Scouts in her home state of Kansas, going through the Certified Horsemanship Association training, and eventually running her own lesson program in upstate NY before moving to Pittsburgh in 2020. She teaches both English and Western riding styles, with a special focus on confidence building for children and beginning riders, and she loves to explore the trails.

Alyssa Hudson
Junior Instructor

Hello!  I’m Alyssa.  I started taking lessons from Kim back in 2012 and I now work as Junior Instructor for the program during the summer.   I love teaching and seeing everyone grow and develop in their riding skills.  During the school year, I attend Murray State University in Murray, KY majoring in Elementary Education.

Isabella McNellis
Junior Instructor

Hey, I’m Isabella.  I joined the program as a Junior Instructor in the Spring of 2019.  I’ve been riding horses since I was a young teenager and I love helping out during the summer months.  When I’m not helping with lessons, I’m attending college in North Carolina, studying Exercise Science.

Thank you for all our valuable volunteers.  We couldn’t do it without you!

Our Equine instructors

Quarter Horse

Hi, my name is Slammer and I’m affectionately known as “Hoover” around the barn because I like to eat everything!  My favorite treats are carrots but honestly, I’ll eat anything.  I’m very well educated and love to go to horse shows and do gaming events like barrel racing and pole bending.  I’ve been with Kim since 2008 and I’ve helped her build this riding program.  I really like running so I prefer intermediate to advanced riders but love to do groundwork with beginners.  

Quarter Horse

Hello, my name is Gilly.  I’m known as Mr. Mischievous around the barn because I’m curious about everything.  I’m always getting into things from bags of treats to the garbage can.  I’m so glad my owner leases me to the program because I really love being a lesson horse.  I’m great for beginners because I tend to be a bit lazy. I can really teach my students how to be assertive.  My size, confidence and gentle nature makes me a favorite of everyone.  

Quarter Pony

Hey there, I’m Angel.  I may be small but I’m also the mighty “boss mare”.  I make sure everyone’s doing their job. My owner leases me to the program and also volunteers with the program and  together we love teaching the youngsters how to ride. I can be a bit sassy at times, but don’t worry, I take really good care of all my young riders. I’m really fun to ride. 

Quarter horse

Hi! My name is Ivy.  I am a western pleasure quarter horse. So I’m a nice slow mover with a trot smooth as butter! I am sweet with a side of sass, but my loving nature does make me the top pick for cuddles! I love being the center of attention. I am 5 years old which makes me the youngest horse in the lesson program.

appaloosa pony

Hello! My name is Fizz! I may be small but I am tough! My owner says that I am definitely “special” with all of my spunk. But if you want to have fun, I’m your guy. I love treats and attention! I can smell peppermints from a mile away and I love face rubs. One of my favorite things to do is rearrange the cones in the arena after my owner sets them up.  I think it’s fun but she might not agree.  I am a very quirky goofball with an adorable face that no one can resist!


Hi, I’m Tonka. At 17.2 hands, I am the tallest horse in the barn, and a true gentle giant. I am new to the barn but not new to lessons. I love exploring the trails, and helping our youngest students gain confidence and independence in the saddle!

Quarter Horse

Hi, I’m Dakota.  I’m the youngest member of the team.  I’m great with everyone from beginners to advanced riders because of my very gentle, kind and easy going nature.  Gilly says he’s the favorite, but really it’s me. But shhh, don’t tell Gilly that. Oh, and one more thing, I’m the prettiest horse in the barn.   


Sally was only with us for a year but her kind and gentle nature made her favorite of everyone.  We miss you Sally,  Run free beautiful girl.

In loving memory of sally

March 17, 2003 – September 8, 2019

Sally, you are greatly missed!  From the first day I met you I loved you and then knew I wanted to rescue a horse.  I was blessed by God when your previous owner gave you to me. I was on cloud 9. Our time together wasn’t often but when together we felt each other’s love.  Stacey Meckler & Kim Szymoniak, I can’t thank you enough for what you have brought to my life with Sally. I’ve cherished every second of my time with her. Until we meet again, run pain free. 


Linda Cox Putzlocker, Owner

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