Young riders find joy at Equestrian Crossings


Every story needs a hero, and at Equestrian Crossings, her name is Jacquelyn Diaz of Oak Harbor. Diaz was born with a severe physical disability that fortunately was countered by the strength of her indomitable spirit and sense of joy, according to a press release.

A graduate of Oak Harbor High School, Diaz also competes in the Special Olympics sports of basketball, bowling, track and field and swimming. It was the Special Olympics hat Diaz was wearing that caught the eye of local riding instructor Miriam Burk.

Five years ago in the Oak Harbor Wal-Mart, Burk asked Diaz if she had ever ridden a horse. Diaz said she had only on pony rides.

“Do you want to learn how to ride a horse? Really learn how to ride?” Burk asked, according to a press release. Diaz was excited.

Over the next four years with Burk and other instructors at Equestrian Crossings, Diaz not only learned to ride a horse but she also learned how to vault on horseback, which is a combination of gymnastics and dance.

The process was slow and deliberate, allowing her time to build her core strength, balance, sense of timing, trust as well as improve her riding skills. She learned to ride English and Western.

Along the way, Diaz attended the American Vaulting Association’s national conference in Portland, Ore., to learn even more from the top vaulting, gymnastic and dance coaches in the country.

Equestrian Crossings is full of these stories, including how instructors helped a double leg amputee in her 80s reignite her love of riding, and a young boy living with autism and ADHD improving his focus and skills.

Equestrian Crossings is a nonprofit organization that is seeking motivated professionals in the corporate world to help it meet the growing financial and structural demands of its services.

To donate or learn other ways to help, contact or 360-320-1573. Visit to learn more.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 1
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates