THE OWNERS OF SPRING LANE RANCH, HEATHER AND DARREL SHEA, PRIDE THEMSELVES ON BREEDING AND TRAINING QUALITY PASO FINO, HACKNEY PONY AND AMERICAN SADDLEBRED HORSES.
Paso Fino Trainer / Instructor / Certified Judge
Alex Zapata is a native of Puerto Rico and at the age of twelve began visiting family in Ocala, Florida. On a visit to the well-respected Young’s Paso Fino Ranch, he met well known trainer Juan Ramon Figueroa. As fate would have it, Alex soon started spending summers working and training under this famous trainer’s watchful eye. By the age of 18, Alex had earned his first professional training job at Young’s Ranch.
Over the years, Alex has had the opportunity to work with many renowned trainers. Combining these valuable experiences with his own excellent instincts, he has developed methods that he applies to his horses today.
Being the serious and talented trainer and competitor that he is, Alex was drawn to judging at an early age – so early in fact that he was informed that he was too young! Of course, he patiently waited until he could earn his Paso Fino Horse Association Judge accreditation as well as his Federacion de Technica de Jueces in Puerto Rico. He is now a highly recognized judge and frequently asked to judge Paso Fino shows.
As his career has progressed, Alex has been respected for his expert handling, knowledgeable judging and excellent deportment. This and many other attributes have served to help him receive many national and international championships. With over 20 years of professional experience, he is an important member of the Spring Lane Ranch team.
Anibal Garriga de Jesus
Paso Fino Trainer / Instructor
A native of Penuela, Puerto Rico, Anibal has been riding over 17 years professionally. He knew he loved riding since he got his first horse at age 6. Training and showing extensively in the Puerto Rican circuit, he established an excellent reputation for himself as a calm and skilled horseman. Working with Jimmy Espino and then becoming the head trainer for Hacienda La Mia and later Hacienda Culminante.
He has trained and won grand champions with horses such as Fena de Isabela, La Sublime del Culminate, Picaflor de la Sierra, and Aventurero del Conde, along with many others.
His favorite part of training is the breeding. Looking for that ideal horse and the mare who compliments him, getting the ideal results, then ultimately watching the foal as it grows and develops. Anibal's philosophy for training is that the best teacher for the trainer is the horse. He says each horse is a different world and each one is a great teacher for the trainer. As he trains, he applies all of his knowledge to the horse and lets them teach him what they need.
Anibal left Puerto Rico with his family to look for a better future for both his family and as a professional. He says, he enjoys working at Spring Lane because of the facilities, the amazing team, and because the care of the horses is the best he has ever seen.
In his down time he enjoys hanging out and spending time with his wife and 3 daughters usually at the mall or watching videos of some of the great Paso Fino trainers around the world.
Saddlebred & Hackney Trainer / Instructor / Judge
Mark Wilson has been in this industry his entire life, raised on the famed Twin Willow's Farm. He has deep roots with horses. His family raised one of the leading Hackney breeding stallions in the country, who revolutionized the Hackney Pony Industry.
Mark loved watching horses progress under the watchful eye of well-respected trainers like Terry McKenzie, and Dr. Alan Ruan. Growing up in the shadows of these elite men and woman, Mark began training his own horses to show at an early age. Spending his fair share of time on the green shavings of Louisville, has made him a well-known name in the Saddlebred and Hackey industry.
This respected trainer has started, and successfully shown, multiple world champion Hackney Ponies and American Saddlebreds. His experience in showing and judging brings together all aspects of a competitive career. It's no surprise, why he is now bringing in the tri-colored ribbons for Spring Lane and our clients.
Mark has accumulated over 20 World and Reserve World Championships, breeding, raising and training some of the prime horses in the Hackney and Saddlebred industry such as Twin Willow's McMillan, Remington, Twin Willow's McDreamy, Outside the Lines, TWin WIllow's Night Editor, Vindicator, Twin WIllow's Wild Thing, TWin WIllow's Ashlyn, Heartland Candidate,TWin Willow's Daddy's Girl, Promise Honored, Mastercraft's Gambler, Twin Willow's Broadway Joe, Twin WIllow's Rex, Twin Willow's All That Jazz, Road Less Traveled, Pardon the Interruption, Lady Singing the Blues (formerly known as Blue York Lady) and our very own Deep Blue's Blue Bonnie.
Masha has had a passion for horses since her early childhood in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Surrounded by the Western breeds featured in the Pro Rodeo circuit and The Calgary Stampede as well as the magnificent show jumpers of Spruce Meadows, Masha became infatuated with all breeds. Her interest in equine conditioning came later in life as a result of working at a Standardbred harness racing training facility in New Jersey. She compared the training and conditioning regimens of human athletes with those of their equine counterparts. At the time (in 2001), human athletes were enjoying the benefits of regular massage, physiotherapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and cryotherapy; the equine.athletes, sadly, were not afforded the same.
As a result, Masha felt called to help the horses. She obtained her Equine Sports Massage Therapist certification in 2003; her certificate in Reiki I and II for animals; Eagala Level I and II certifications; and her certificate as a Magna Wave practitioner. She now uses equine sports massage, Magna Wave, aqua treadmill, and Theraplate regularly and consistently to assist Spring Lane Ranch’s equine athletes in reaching their full physical potential! With optimal health and a feeling of well-being, they perform better. This, in turn, helps them gain a competitive edge.
Masha says some of her favorite components about what she does here is working with a great team of professionals – vets, farriers, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, and saddle-fitters, knowing they share a single focus of helping each horse be its individual best, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Most of all, she loves providing owners hope when she and our team find that one intricate piece of the puzzle that can turn a horse who is “off” or “sour” or “just not right” into a willing, happy, healthy, working participant.
Equine Therapy Manager
Javi got his first horse, "Fleche", when he was 13. The Paso Fino was part of his culture growing up in Puerto Rico and as a young man he worked with trainers like Jonathan Roldan Oquendo, Jose Sife, and Dadier Rosario training horses like Curunay and Inquieto de Besilu. Javi loves that working with the Paso Fino horses makes him feel like he's at home and back in that culture. He has been with Spring Lane for 9 years and thinks the best part of that is having the owners of Spring Lane for bosses. The second thing is having the opportunity and trust to work with the horses. Javi always has a smile on his face and a warm greeting for all the other employees and visitors. As much as he loves the horses he enjoys having spare time to take his ATV out to the mud and crab fish also.
Joel Ortiz Martinez
With a passion for horses since he was a boy, Joel was so thankful to have the opportunity to work with Anibal and the horses at Spring Lane. He likes the environment and how Miss Heather treats everyone like family. He says you really feel like you're a part of something here. In the year and half at the ranch, he has assisted in training Mandatario, Mujeriego, and Fashionista. He says the best part, is the process of starting a horse from the ground and seeing it become great. It makes you feel like a great trainer. Joel is a great addition to our training program and compliments Anibal's style especially in the foundation of the young colts and fillies. He spends his spare time focused on his passionate hobby of training and racing pacing horses all over the state.
Growing up watching his Uncle raise horses helped Luis know he wanted a career in the equine industry. He has been at the ranch for two years. Luis worked with Thoroughbreds at Tampa Downs prior to coming to the Ranch. He says he enjoys the family atmosphere and really likes working with the Saddlebreds and Hackney ponies. Especially the Hackneys, who are small but full of power. HIs grooming skills are some of the very best! Probably because in his spare time, he practices his barber skills. Some afternoons you may even catch him after work with his clippers and a line of grooms and trainers waiting their turn.
Kim has been running the office at Spring Lane since 2012 but prior to that she spent 20 years following her husband across the world wherever his air force career took their family. The flexibility and variety of environments and careers she encountered during that time are a big part of what make her not only great at what she does but a truly valuable asset to the ranch. She has always jumped at the chance to ride during family vacations but retired Saddlebred trainer, Pat Wessel, along with Heather, convinced her to compete in driving for the ranch. Kim says, "Each horse is a challenge, but they are so much fun to drive! I love the individual personalities and watching them grow as athletes." Her favorite part of working at Spring Lane? Is sharing in the vision the owners have and the people she works with. When she isn't making sure everything runs smoothly for Spring Lane, she and her husband love to travel especially when it means seeing their grandbaby!
Sara has worked in accounting and office management for 25 years with a strong background in marketing. Growing up on a small farm with a family that rodeoed, showed and bred horses created a true love for all animals in her. This is why she is so passionate about helping customers find the right boarding program and the right horse to purchase. She says it's all about creating an environment for the horse and client to both flourish together. Sara's creativeness has given the Ranch a whole new presence online from her pictures, articles, social media post and even this website. When she's not touring the ranch with prospective clients or helping prepare for upcoming shows, she is helping her husband and son with their own small cattle farm, working on her photography or enjoying an afternoon on the boat with her family. Sara offers equine and livestock photography.
Ron has worked with Jack Henning, Debbie Russell, and Alan Parker for reining horse and enjoys practicing natural horsemanship on his own horses, often using the techniques of Monty Roberts, Chris Cox, and Buck Brennan. However, it's his years as an auto and motorcycle mechanic along with his drafting and building skills that make him so good at running the facilities. He says he enjoys the many different projects and challenges that come with the job. We are constantly testing his "jack of all trades" skills as we develop and grow. He says he doesn't have much spare time for hobbies between working at Spring Lane, raising registered Brangus on his own farm, and singing in a southern gospel quartet.
Housekeeping & Landscaping
Niki's husband, Javi, introduced her to horses when they met. At Spring Lane she often gets to care for the newborn foals which is her favorite part of the job. She loves how extraordinary the bond is with them. That makes sense since she has been in healthcare and spent a lot of her life nursing and caring for others. Driving around the ranch you will notice the beautiful flower beds that Niki maintains. Keeping the ranch beautiful and clean is what she does during the week but on her own time she enjoys fishing, gardening, photography, and cooking different kinds of foods. When we're fortunate she shares her culinary creations with us!
Jerry worked with Heather even before the ranch was purchased 15 years ago. As the ranch grew Jerry filled in here and there and is now an integral part of our feeding program and daily horse care along with assisting in facilities maintenance. His favorite part of working at Spring Lane is that we have the best people to work with and for. He says he has learned a lot from the horses. When Jerry isn't feeding or running errands for the ranch, he enjoys camping, swimming, cooking and baking. Everyone at the ranch knows Jerry is a talented baker which is why we never turn down an offer to bring in his famed carrot cake or orange creamsicle cakes!