Meet the Team
At HoofbeatZ: Horses & Humans in Harmony, we are so thankful and proud of each of our staff members. Each person has their own amazing story and brings something new and different to the table. Keep reading to learn about our family!
Trainer Marissa Mendoza of Marissa Mendoza Horsemanship has over 30 years of horsemanship and riding experience and became a business partner to Eileen Verdieck in 2021. She has been working tirelessly to build and develop Eileen’s HoofbeatZ teaching system alongside of her and their team of incredible people. Marissa is the Director of Operations and head trainer at HoofebeatZ: Horses & Humans in Harmony as well as Vice President of their board of directors. She has immense passion for HoofbeatZ mission, her team and their students as the students.
For as long as Marissa can recall, she has had a passion for horses. After taking lessons as a child with her father, the two embarked into the adventures of horse ownership and enjoyed riding the oceanside trails of the California coast. Over time, Marissa’s passion for horses developed into a fascination with horse training which led her to read all the books she could find on the subject and attend all the training clinics to which she could travel. During this time, she studied the emerging field of natural horsemanship and practiced a mixed methodology which included that of horsemen such as: Tom Dorrance, John Lyons, Buck Brannaman, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson, and Chris Cox.
At any opportunity, Marissa trained her horses and those of her friends in order to hone her early skills in natural horsemanship. Eventually, Marissa attended Moorpark College’s program for Exotic Animal Training and Management where she graduated with degrees in animal training and turned her vocational interests toward equine stunt work and the training of equines for studio work while living in southern California. Marissa developed skills in trick riding and vaulting with top professionals and also learned techniques for training horses at liberty for movie work from industry leaders. To this day, applying and honing her skills in liberty and “trick” horse training is an interest Marissa still pursues while training and instructing at HoofbeatZ.
Eventually, Marissa’s interests in horse sports would lead her to compete and train her horses in multiple disciplines which have included barrel racing and other gymkhana events; Extreme Cowboy Racing and finally, her most resounding passion: the sport of Reining. She has had the pleasure learning from reining trainers such as Danny Gerardi, Tom and Daphne Foran and Mike Boyle.
Marissa spent 5 years being mentored and riding alongside reining and western pleasure trainer, June Tabor, from whom she still draws much guidance and wisdom. Marissa enjoys applying her diverse training skill set to the HoofbeatZ program. She has passionately worked alongside of HoofbeatZ founder, Eileen Verdieck for the last few years to adapt and develop her vision for the HoofbeatZ teaching system.
Marissa’s coaching style ranges from extremely soft and encouraging to firm but fair and is applied with regard to her intuition of each student’s need for growth--not only in their horsemanship and riding but as a person.
Claire has been around horses for over 25 years. From an early age, she fell in love with them and relished any chance to ride and learn horsemanship. She grew up trail riding with her mom, attending summer camps, and taking jumping lessons, and eventually competed in Training Level dressage. For several years, Claire was a working student and studied Centered Riding®, which matched well with her calm personality.
Outside of riding, Claire has a wide range of teaching experience, including as a firearms instructor at Boy Scout summer camps and a professional belly dancer. As co-director of her belly dance troupe, she taught hundreds in person, recorded two training DVDs, and performed in front of thousands.
Claire brings her patience and joy to Hoofbeatz, as well as her 2 horse-loving kids and husband. She is excited to help HoofbeatZ spread their love of the horse and human connection.
I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. When I was 15 years old I finally bought my first horse, a 6month old miniature horse. He taught me many things, and fueled my passion for horses. Together we learned everything from how to do showmanship to how to drive. While he was too small to ride, I learned from other friends how to ride both western and english.
I earned a Bachelors in Agriculture Business and Equine Science from the University of Minnesota - Crookston. While at UMC I competed on the ISHA teams (western and hunt seat), various NACTA teams, and interned at a working cattle ranch in North Dakota. After graduation I worked at a trail riding/lesson barn before moving to AZ where I took a break from horses due to a new job.
I am so excited to be back around horses learning and teaching with HoofbeatZ.