McKenzie Nielsen - Head Instructor

McKenzie is the head trainer and instructor at Manes & Reins Academy. She comes from a rodeo family and has been riding horses since before she could walk. McKenzie has a deep love of horses that she is instilling into to her children. She and her husband, Jordan, raise their kids alongside a variety of other critters on their property in picturesque Lewiston, Utah. She is dedicated to down-to-earth country living, thrives on learning new homesteading skills, and believes horses are one of the purest ways to connect to your best self.
McKenzie is currently working toward her Parelli certification and is an adamant advocate of Natural Horsemanship. While her riding experience focuses primarily on Western Pleasure, McKenzie has also enjoyed being a strong competitor in collegiate shows with the Utah State University English Equestrian Team. With a Bachelor’s degree from USU in Psychology, McKenzie is passionate about using her academic education and personal experience to strengthen the intimate interaction between people and horses.

Aspen Curtis- Instructor

Aspen has been attending Utah State University studying Biotechnology for the last 3 years, where she has competed on USU’s English and Western Team competing in ranch riding, horsemanship, reining, and hunt seat equitation. Aspen has been teaching horseback riding lessons to adults and kids for over 10 years and has taught a range of levels from beginners to advanced. Aspen is certified in the United States Pony Club to the HB level, has competed up through Training level in Eventing, First-level in Dressage, and the 1 meter in Jumpers. She also had the opportunity to work for Chris Knox- an ex-Olympic horse trainer for a year. Aspen primarily focuses on developing the horse and rider building off of the classical foundational principles of riding.

Our Herd

Secret Rebellion “Rebel”

13-year-old Quarter Horse/Brabant

Bay Roan Mare

Rebel is our rockstar lesson horse. As a long-time member of our family, Rebel is the self-designated herd "stallion," constantly herding the other horses and loving a good game of chase out in the field. She has a huge heart and entertaining “horse-enality.” Rebel thrives on attention and treats - her favorites being watermelon rinds and peppermint sticks. She has a quick mind and slow temper, making her a kind and gentle lesson horse for children and adults alike.


20-year-old Quarter Horse

Bay Gelding

Apollo is a high-energy horse who is incredibly eager to please. He wants to be included in whatever the other horses are doing and despises being left behind. Apollo is our all-around horse, involved in lessons, Western, English, jumping, and trail rides. His sensitive and willing nature makes him quick to respond to cues, allowing him to be a dynamic mid- to higher-level lesson horse.


15-year-old Quarter Horse

Sorrel Gelding

Henry is our sweet new addition to the herd. He was originally trained as a barrel horse and has experience in the roping pen and working the ranch, but he is more than happy to be living the semi-“retired” life now as a lesson horse and experienced trail horse. Henry is eager to please and has a laid back personality that is enjoyable to be around. He is a bit of a war horse and has an “old soul." Henry enjoys massages and belly rubs and is happy to accept treats.


20-year-old Quarter Horse

Paint Gelding

Rafikki is our gentle giant. His name comes from the Swahili word meaning “friend.” He has been used as a 4H and Western Pleasure horse. Rafikki loves carrots and having his mane brushed and especially enjoys trail rides. He is very sweet and timid, preferring to keep to himself in the field. His big, slow canter is smooth as butter. Rafikki perfectly embodies the phrase “lover, not a fighter.”

Thor’s Secret Treasure “Ruby”

1-year-old Quarter Horse/Brabant

Flaxen Red Roan Mare

Ruby’s spunky, bold nature has given her a confidence that far surpasses her age. At only a year old, Ruby is already already taller than her mom, Rebel. She is playful, curious and verges on cheeky- brazenly exploring and teasing and chasing the older horses, dogs, chickens, and even inanimate objects. Her natural athleticism is astonishing and opens so many options with her future training.

Lily Rose “Rosie”

1-year-old Quarter Horse/Brabant

Buckskin Roan Mare

Rosie is a very docile and affectionate filly. She is quietly confident and intelligent, mastering the basics without a fuss. She is a quick learner and incredibly trusting, making her an enjoyable horse to work with. Rosie enjoys the companionship of her pal, Ruby, loves a good bum scratch, and never turns down a treat.