Blessings come to Happy Trails in all shapes and sizes. One such gift arrived in 2009 when
Lance & Jamie Mouw brought their daughter Payton to Happy Trails for therapeutic riding.
Payton’s medical issues had prevented her from participating in traditional sporting activities,
including running. This limited the choices available to her but at 9 years old, she fell in love
with horseback riding in the gymkhana discipline, a sporting event involving a series of timed
contests performed on horseback.
It was while Jamie was looking for other activities that might provide therapeutic value that she
discovered Happy Trails ‘in her own backyard.’ Payton found her joy in the vaulting class with
Lisa Cotta-Meek as her instructor. The class helped her build self-confidence and trust in others.
In 2011, she successfully competed at CALNET, one of the largest horse shows for riders with
disabilities in the country. Her mother beams with pride when she says, “vaulting allowed
Payton to focus on what she could do, not what she couldn’t do.”
As Payton grew older, she became a volunteer at Happy Trails and assisted others to become
stronger in overcoming their fears. She remembers waiting with a child on the autism spectrum
who was nervous for his turn in class. Afterward, the child’s mother made a point of
complimenting Payton on the way she was able to calmly reassure and encourage him during his
Payton has become a self-driven individual who has succeeded in overcoming many challenges.
After high school she went on to Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego earning a degree
in Communications. Payton is now 25 and works as the office manager in her family business,
The Mouw family has supported Happy Trails in many ways over the years. At one time, Jamie
served on the Board of Directors. Their recent donation to our herd has been one more blessing
for our program. Payton’s horse Bam Bam is a 19-year-old black gelding who was not ready for
retirement. After all, he’s still a teenager! Happy Trails seemed to be the perfect answer to
finding a new home for him. Since arriving at Happy Trails, he has shown that he enjoys activity
and welcomes any challenge. Jamie happily states, “Giving Bam Bam to the place that gave so
much to Payton seems the right thing to do.”