Two-Legged Instructors

Meet the Instructors

Robyn Smith – Instructor and Equine Life Solutions Director

From “Fearless” to “Fearapist”
I have been involved with horses for over 40 years. As a teenager and into my early 20’s I rode primarily QH/TB and Appaloosa crosses, competing in rodeo games, high speed relays, and bareback barrel racing. This training developed the extreme balance needed to compete in such challenging sports I would be involved with later. My highly competitive “no fear” nature led me to sports such as Endurance, Competitive Trail, and Dressage.  
naturalhorsemanship-4After owning multiple horses over the years, mostly rescues, I encountered two particular “crazy” horses that led me to the wonderful world of Natural Horsemanship.  I now view the Parelli NH system as the most comprehensive way of communicating and “being” with horses. As a result, I have learned through the Parelli Principles how to appreciate and respect horses as they are (their horsanality) not what I expected them to be (performance).  The most important lesson I have learned:
wp7f0016f2256“I was not here to “fix” horses, I was here for horses to “fix” me!”  
I have spent the past 20 years on a journey from a primarily “competitive, performance-driven horsewoman to a balanced, more appreciative partner of this great animal we call horse. Now I help others find the most amazing partnership where horse and human compete cooperatively, on the ground and riding, in jobs they truly enjoy with their humans.
As a Registered Nurse with a background in anatomy and physiology, I fully support the importance of balanced, centered riding through Natural Horsemanship training.

Lyra Freedom – Instructor


I have no idea when or where I became interested in horses, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to them. Horses are a part of my earliest memories, before I had even seen one in person! I started learning to ride at 5 years old.  Funnily enough, these days I love helping people of all ages navigate the same fascination I’ve always had to learn about these crazy cool creatures.
I never thought I’d end up a teacher, but today I find myself intrigued by the individuality of people and the wide range of different ways they learn. I enjoy learning how to better teach people as unique individuals.
Like people, I find horses each have unique personalities and learning styles. As such, I’ve found a special interest in training horses. The ability to communicate with these over-one-thousand-pound animals blows my mind every day.
I was a wandering equestrian in search of a job. I had no idea that I’d end up at a wonderful place like ELS. It’s a great feeling to be part of such an amazing team of people in such a community-oriented, positive learning and working environment. I find that following my passion never lets me down.


Miharu Yamauchi – Instructor

Being a kid in the city, I took the first chance I I could as a grown-up to get out to a barn and meet some horses! Learning to ride as an adult helped me realize that successful horsemanship requires attention placed not only on the body, but also on the heart and mind. My background in education ignited a passion to teach this connection with horses and I am delighted to explore topics of balance, confidence, and leadership with my students! I look forward to working with you or your special kiddo.
Besides hanging out with horses I also love to sing, eat doughnuts, and go on walks with my cat!





Cory Amundsen – Instructor 

I grew up in California, graduating from Rio Mesa High School followed by Moorpark College where I majored in Early Childhood Education and Art. Both of these subjects led me to teaching young kids, from toddlers up through grade school. 
Horses have always been a passion of mine. I know it all started when I met my Aunt Sue’s horse, Cimmaron. From there I started riding lessons at four and a half years old, beginning with Western, then moving on to English discipline. These lessons opened the door to participating in Hunter Jumping, Eventing, as well as showing in Stadium Jumping and English Equitation. I leased my first horse in Junior High at Rocking R Ranch, a cute little red roan POA/Quarter Horse gelding with 4 white socks and a blaze who’s name was Sox. Year later I got to work with an incredible bay pony mare named Nina (short for Assassanina) and trainer Darci Phelps. I learned so much over my 8 months with her that helped me get to where I am now.
In February 2017 I found ELS and obtained my dream job combining kids and horses! I am a youth riding instructor. I’ve learned so much about natural horsemanship at ELS, especially coming from a traditional riding world.  I still have so much to learn from Robyn and I can’t wait! I am especially looking forward to new adventures and lessons with my equine partner, Sansa.


Emily Rendahl – Instructor

Much like all my fellow instructors and students, I have always been drawn to horses for as long as I can remember but I didn’t have the opportunity to take riding lessons until after I graduated from Washington State University and was fortunate to find Equine Life Solutions. Robyn welcomed me to the herd first as a weekly riding lesson student, but when that wasn’t enough for me I started to volunteer one or two days a week at the barn. That quickly turned into me taking riding lessons several times per week, and piqued my interest into natural horsemanship and developing a relationship/partnership with horses beyond an hour riding lesson. About 6 months after I joined the ELS riding program I met my heart horse, Roxie – I spent the next two and a half years learning how to be the leader, partner, and rider that she needed me to be and in November of 2014 we adopted each other. Around this time, Robyn approached me about interning to become a riding instructor and arena assistant. I jumped at the opportunity to continue to learn more about horses through the eyes of my students, who were learning as riders and developing their own fledgling partnerships with horses. I have developed youth and adult riders, working closely with Robyn and our other instructors to build a foundation of balanced, centered riding that allows our students to transition into any discipline of horsemanship that they’re interested in pursuing.

Joslin Starkey – Pony Partner Director

max_smallMy parents signed me up for riding lessons in third grade. They finally got the hint after I requested to go riding for every birthday and vacation. I took lessons through high school, and as an adult, I continued to search out trail rides at every travel destination.  After graduating college with a degree in Elementary Education and settling into my career, I realized I needed horses more regularly in my life. Google helped me stumble upon ELS. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have encountered here at ELS. I have learned more in one year here than I did in the 10 years of lessons as a child.
I currently teach Pony Partner Club on Saturdays for children ages 3 – 10.       I adore the little riders and feed off of their enthusiasm. It brings me great joy to share this experience with  kids since I know that for some of them this will be a lifelong passion, as it is for me.
Outside of teaching, my partner Maximus, and I are starting from the beginning to really fine tune my riding fundamentals with a focus on how to best communicate whether it be in the saddle or on the ground.
Many thanks to Robyn and the rest of the instructors at ELS for taking me under their wing. I am forever grateful.