Walk On History & Personnel
Walk On Therapeutic Riding Programs, Inc. follows the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International Guidelines. Walk On also is overseen by a eight member board of directors made up of volunteers whom are parents of riders, equine professionals, other professional members of the community, and the family members of the founders of Walk On.
Ken Giske serves as the executive director, president and the PATH Certified Registered Instructor for Walk On. Ken and Katy Giske began Walk On September 10, 2001, with 5 riders and 20 volunteers. With their collective experience and body of knowledge of working with individuals with a disability and horses, they provided what was the foundation and insight for the need of this type of facility. It was the beginning of a dream, which became a family venture with their two daughters, Cassy and Paige, resulting in an amazing successful and renowned therapeutic riding program. The Giske family’s dedication and determination, along with the continued support of the community and wonderful volunteers, is what made Walk On what it is today.
Ken’s education background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in adaptive physical education with over 30 years of experience working with individuals with a disability in a variety of settings. These settings include athletic training for high school and college, 4 years of teaching adaptive physical education for adults with cognitive and learning disabilities, over 30 years at a nationally recognized rehabilitation center and hospital, and teaching courses on adaptive aquatics at the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Ken’s equine experience includes over 25 years of working with horses, and completing the Horse Management Summer Program at UW-River Falls. Additionally, he has attended clinics with nationally recognized horse clinicians Ray Hunt, Jack Brainerd, and Tom Durrance. Ken is also a volunteer Horse Project Leader and Riding Instructor with the Pierce County Wisconsin 4H Program and has been a volunteer horse leader and side walker with several other therapeutic riding programs. As a PATH Member and Certified Registered Instructor since 2001, Ken is responsible for overseeing the care of the horses, tack and equipment, program content and instruction.
Katy’s educational background included a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation with 10 years of experience in working with individuals with physical disabilities, and individuals with mental health and or chemical dependency disabilities. Katy attended numerous conferences and seminars dealing with mental health, autism, and child development issues and was a strong advocate for these individuals. Her 18 years of horse experience, she along with Ken operated the Double K Acres Equestrian Center, where Walk On is held. Katy served as the Volunteer Coordinator and Program Registration Coordinator for Walk ON and was the liaison between the riders, parents or caregivers, and the volunteers. Katy was diagnose with cancer in the fall of 2008 and after a 4 year battle passed away April 5, 2011. Her Spirit and Guidance will live on through the program and after a year off from programming and riding, Walk On is beginning the program April 14, 2012.
Cassy and Paige Giske assisted with Walk On early on in their lives, making this truly a family experience. These two young women have been riding since they were babies and have been involved with horses all their lives. They are accomplished riders, participated in local, regional, and national horse shows, members of the Pierce County Wisconsin 4H Horse Project, and have participated in the University of Wisconsin River Falls Summer Horse Camps and Riding Clinics. They assist in the training and development of Walk On program horses, serve as horse leaders and side walkers, and are a wonderful role model for the young riders of the program.
Cassy is attending William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, majoring in equine science. Her equine interests are showing and training horses.
Paige graduated from high school and will be attending North Dakota State University at Fargo. Her equine interest is barrel racing in the rodeo circuit.
This entire program would not be possible without the assistance of wonderful volunteers. These volunteers support the program in numerous ways and means. Through their own efforts, volunteers have given their time, talents, and knowledge to help Walk On become an outstanding therapeutic riding program. These volunteers assist with the horses as horse leaders and side walkers as well as behind the scenes in the many aspects of the Walk On Program. A Big Thank You goes out to these many individuals.
Board of Directors
The previous Members of the Board of Directors were a valuable asset to the program and provided direction and organization to Walk On. Many of them had been in place since the onset of Walk On and all doing a great job. In 2012, the Board of Directors was re-established with new members. Additionally, the Board increased it size from 5 members to 7 members. These members include:
Ken Giske, President
Developed Walk On Therapeutic Riding Programs, Inc.
Kris Karlson, Vice President
Parent of a rider, professional, teacher
Dick Jones-Witthuhn, Treasurer
Previous volunteer, professional, Walk On’s Veterinarian
Diane Gallagher, Secretary
Parent of a rider, professional, strong background in non-profit organizations
Lisa Huppert, Member
Horse person, professional, family business as a dairy farmer
Kerrin Frey, Member
A known River Falls resident, professional and many strong connections with the community
Brad Pitzen, Member
Parent of rider, professional, get things done kind of person
Thank you for all your time and talents and supporting Walk On!