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Marian Nelson
Head Trainer-Owner

Marian brings a lifetime of dedication and experience to the clients and the staff. She has seen horses, riders – even the industry – grow and evolve, and has always been involved in shaping the hunter/jumper world in Northern California.  For more than 40 years, Marian has worked with young children, juniors, and adult amateurs, focusing on safety, as well as their horsemanship skills.  In 2020 she was the recipient of the NorCal Hunter Jumper Association Lifetime Achievement Award & the Wendy Nissen Memorial Trophy Award.  


Her teaching philosophy: function follows form. Marian believes in the development of a strong equitation foundation for all of her riders – no matter what ring they will ultimately compete in.  She prioritizes the attainment of the fundamental skills that serve riders for success in all riding disciplines for the rest of their riding career.  She believes in safety first and a positive attitude when having fun.


Marian has enjoyed great success in discovering and fostering talent in young horses with her European importing business.  Through a network of trainers she works with in Belgium, Holland and Germany, she finds prospects to develop under her watchful eye.  Her horses are often top 10 in the international Young Jumper Championships and many are competing right now in Grand Prix and Hunter Derbies throughout the United States.


She has participated in all aspects of the equestrian sport, including being named the Chef D’Equipe of the NorCal Spruce Meadows team in 2010.  Under her tutelage, her clients have achieved numerous West Coast wins and championships, including some of the most competitive year-end finals in Northern California, PCHA high-score awards, Spruce Meadows wins and Thermal Championships.


Marian’s passions included an orphanage in Kenya where she helps with 350 AIDS orphans.  She is a Board Member of Bright Future Foundation, a non-profit which supports the By Grace Disabled and Orphans Center.  She also loves to fish and travel.

Throughout the years her students have earned many wins and championships at top shows on the West Coast such as:

  • NorCal Pony Finals Winner

  • Carousel Pony Finals Winner Almaden Pony Finals Winner

  • AHSA (USEF) Pony of the Year-end Award

  • USEF Zone 10 Pony of the Year Award

  • Horse & Hound Medals Final Winner

  • Hudson Medal Finals Winner

  • Reserve Champion NorCal Year-end Pony Hunter

  • Reserve Champion NorCal Year-end Pony Equitation

  • PCHA Horse of the Year Award

Marian Nelson
Corrie Janssen
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Sue Ellen Wright

Sue Ellen is a long time presence at Riverside, having been involved in training,

showing and importing horses, as well founding the on-property apparel and supply store originally known as The Wright Stuff. A native Californian, Sue Ellen has been riding and competing since childhood. She started out in Western and won numerous championships throughout the state with her wonderful horse “Dear Sir,” culminating in winning the PCHA “A” Stock Seat

Equitation Championship in 1973.

At 14, she made a seamless transition into the Hunter/Jumper discipline and

continued her winning ways with her fantastic horse “Flying Bird.” Collecting blue

ribbons up and down the west coast in hunters and equitation, Sue Ellen qualified

for all the major national medals and competed in the Finals at Harrisburg,

Washington DC and Madison Square Garden.

After her junior riding years she moved to New York and rode with Kris Ward,

McLain Ward’s mother. Sue Ellen laughs at how she used to babysit McLain, now a

three-time Olympic Gold medalist and considered one of the best riders in the



Returning to California, she turned pro and worked for Jimmy Williams and Susan

Hutchinson, then started her own training business in Orange County. She married

in 1986, then had her daughter Shannon before the family moved to Novato. Sue

Ellen began working for Marian Nelson in 1997 and together they’ve had a very

successful partnership, with students winning many championships every year. She and Marian also began importing horses from Europe, one of which “Relance,”

finished in the top four in the West Coast 7-year-old Young Jumper Championships

at Showpark in San Diego.


Several years ago Sue Ellen unfortunately had a very bad accident while loading a

horse into a trailer that nearly cost her her life. After major surgery, rehabilitation

and recovery she is looking forward to returning to Marian Nelson Equestrian and

continuing the winning ways that have been a hallmark of her and her students’

careers. As Sue Ellen likes to say, Coach Wright is back!

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Jamie Kerr, DVM 

Dr. Kerr is available for routine wellness exams and vaccinations as well as when there is an emergency.  Dr. Kerr is a graduate of University of California, Davis Veterinary School and has had a private practice for over 25 years and is now a member of the Petaluma Equine team.  We feel fortunate to have him overseeing the health and welfare of our horses.

Glenn Wright, Hauling

Glenn has been transporting my horses for over 20 years.  He is an excellent horseman and is conscientious and careful.  We know our horses are in good hands when they travel with Glenn.

Ray Sagaria, Farrier

Ray has been our trusted shoer for almost 20 years. He manages the horses regular shoeing and trimming schedules, ensuring that the horses' feet are well- balanced so they can perform at their best. Ray is also on call to help reset shoes when needed.

Belinda Burnside, Osteopath

As a traditional (non-physician) osteopath and animal chiropractic practitioner, Belinda Burnside employs a broad range of techniques for hands-on therapy. Techiques are individualized and specific to each horse's needs to help him reach – and maintain – peak health and performance.

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