top of page
Meet Our Staff

Kellie Grayden is our Program Director and a therapeutic riding instructor certified through Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) and is an equine specialist through Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).  She is certified through the American Red Cross in adult/child/infant CPR, first aid, and AEG.  She continues her education in relevant classes with the University of Minnesota, People, Inc., PATH, EAGALA, and others.  She has over 20 years of equine experience and grew up riding and showing American Saddlebreds at the state, national, and world levels.  Kellie spent her summers and free time up until college as a groom working with horses as much as she possibly could. She is also a professional with the United States Equestrian Federation.

She attended the University of North Dakota.  After college she spent time as a trainer and riding instructor teaching Saddleseat, Hunt Seat, Western/Western Working, and Driving to adults and children of all ages and abilities. 

Kellie and her husband, Anthony, live in Cedar and own a business together called CardConnect Midwest. She enjoys working with all of our riders.

Kjerstin Berg is an instructor.  She has been riding and showing horses for over 20 years.  She started in the Arabian show world with her horse, Bugsy, and eventually moved into the American Saddlebred world.  She spent many summers and weekends grooming, showing, and helping at horse shows before going off to college.  After college she spent time riding and caring for Icelandic and Morgan horses.


Kjerstin completed her undergraduate at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  She has been working in the behavioral health field for over ten years.  Kjerstin is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and has recently completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology.  She is also working towards achieving her state license as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.  Kjerstin is also a mental health professional through Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).


Laura Ernst is an instructor.  She started riding lessons at age eight and competed in a variety of disciplines including Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, and Eventing.  Throughout high school and college, Laura continued showing and began teaching lessons and training young horses as a working student and exercise rider for several top stables and trainers.  A few years later Laura's focus pivoted to the Western disciplines especially Appaloosa breed shows where she successfully trained several futurity show horses including her own.  At that time, she moved to her own farm, Star E Ranch where she still resides with her husband, Josh, three Appaloosas--Sassy, Tango, and Ollie, two llamas--Salvador and Woodford, and three dogs--Joan, Yula, and Mazy. 


A graduate from University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a degree in fine arts, Laura also made custom Western show clothing for riders all over the country.  She still enjoys sewing clothes as a hobby and her other hobbies include gardening, hiking with her husband and dogs, as well as wakeboarding and snowboarding. 

Coming Soon.gif

Elise Fleischman is an instructor.  More on Elise soon.


Ellyn Thompson is an instructor.  Ellyn began taking riding lessons in fourth grade after her mom signed her up thinking that horses would be a phase.  Since then, she has worked as a counselor at horse camps and worked with several horse-centered non-profits while continuing taking lessons and leasing horses.  She attended Concordia University for her undergraduate education where she worked as a tutor and was the president of the CSP History Club while she earned a degree in secondary education and social studies teaching license.  She recently earned a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and now holds an additional teaching license in reading.  Ellyn works as a reading interventionist for middle and high school students in St. Paul.  Ellyn is also an equine specialist through Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).


Ellyn loves Thoroughbreds and has been riding off the track Thoroughbreds since middle school when she first fell in love with the breed.  She continues to ride and take lessons as an adult, always learning and wanting to better herself.  When she is not at the barn, Ellyn is an avid reader and reliable patron of her local library.  Ellyn is also a religious supporter of Chelsea Football Club and follower of the English Premier League.  She is a member of the Dons Trust making her a part owner of AFC Wimbledon, a professional football club based in London, England.


Rachel Wilebski is an instructor.  Rachel and her husband, Jon, live in New Richmond, Wisconsin and have two children, Josh and Abby.  Rachel has been caring for and riding horses for over 28 years. As a beginner rider she participated in 4H and showed Western and English.  As she became more advanced in her riding, she joined Pony Club.  She has many years of Jumper and Dressage lessons and showed in Pony Club events and eventing shows.  Her first experience as a riding instructor was working as a volunteer at Miracle Mountain Ranch, a Christian camp, from 2007 to 2008.  She was certified as an instructor through Certified Horsemanship Association and taught English and Western riding.


In 2011, Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of 

Wisconsin River Falls in Animal Science.  After graduation she started her own business teaching riding lessons from 2011 to 2015.  She taught children and adults horsemanship and horse care. She has been enjoying teaching her children horsemanship on the horses she owns.  During the past couple of years Rachel has been challenging herself and learning about the obstacles sport.


Rachel is also a Veteran and served in Iraq from 2009 to 2010.


Rachel is excited to be teaching students again.  She enjoys watching riders improve and persevere in their riding skills. 

Meet Our Board

Karen Harjes is one of the original founders of St. Croix Trail Blazers and the volunteer Executive Director.  She will admit to being a complete “city girl” until stepping out of her comfort zone to assist with the development of the team and taking riding lessons for a year.  With the help of several staff, Karen keeps St. Croix Trail Blazers organized and running.


When not at her full-time job or tending to St. Croix Trail Blazers' business, Karen loves spending time with her son, visiting her family in northern Minnesota, being with her pets, gardening, crafting, watching movies, being a part of Special Olympics Minnesota, and doing jigsaw puzzles. 

Ali Evans is our Secretary and also a weekly volunteer.  She is the Director of Nutrition for a food service management company in the education market and also a registered dietitian.  She grew up on a YMCA camp, riding and taking care of the camp horses and her own Arabian mare.  Volunteering with the St. Croix Trail Blazers has been a wonderful way to reconnect with those childhood memories.  In her free time, Ali enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, gardening, cooking, and reading. 

Vice President position is currently vacant.

Karen Malmskog is our Treasurer and frequent volunteer. She has volunteered with many hippotherapy and adaptive riding programs for over 20 years. She loves spending time at the barn with the horses, riders, families, volunteers, and staff. Karen has always loved horses and started to ride in her 40’s and fell in love with American Saddlebred horses and the Saddleseat discipline. It allowed her to share a special interest with her daughter.


Karen does a lot of maintenance around the barn and can often be seen working in the pastures, mending horse blankets, building shelters, or fixing things around the barn. Outside of the barn, Karen likes to spend time at home reading, gardening, or amassing patterns for making those quilts she’s going to make when there is time.

Kellie Grayden is our Program Director and a Board Advisor. More about Kellie is written in her staff information.

Colette Morris is a Board Advisor and Legal Counsel.  She enjoys being involved with St. Croix Trail Blazers because it gives her a chance to volunteer and learn more about businesses.  Colette holds a position as General Counsel for a St. Paul education technology company and brings over a decade of legal experience to her work with the St. Croix Trail Blazers.  Colette also volunteers for a Minneapolis nonprofit flamenco dance school.  When not working or volunteering, Colette enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and two dogs. 

Spence Morley is a Board Advisor.  Spence has lived in St. Paul since 1980.  During this time, he has served on governance leadership teams for several business and nonprofit organizations.  He started volunteering with St. Croix Trail Blazers in 2018 and joined the board as an Advisor in 2022.  Spence considers it a privilege and an honor to be part of St. Croix Trail Blazers' leadership team that holds deep, heartfelt dedication and passion for its mission, to experience the enthusiasm of the riders and their families, and to hang out with the horses who generate such a tremendous spirit for everyone.

PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
bottom of page