OUR TEAM

Barbara Taylor

Barb is the Program Director for Upward Transitions and the backbone of the organization.  She started volunteering with a therapeutic riding center in 1988 and became a certified instructor in 1993.  Based on her understanding and commitment to the program, she was selected to be an Instructor Evaluator and held this position for 15 years.  She also served as the Special Olympic Equestrian Coach for 16 years.  Because of her dedication, knowledge and leadership within the therapeutic riding and equestrian community, she was invited to Japan on two occasions to lecture on the research and benefits of therapeutic riding.  Barb and her husband live outside Helotes with their 4 horses and 5 dogs.

Brian Kastner

Growing up in San Antonio, Brian has always loved horses which led him to being actively involved with programs that keep him close to them.  He served on the board of directors with a therapeutic riding center in Houston where he worked with both veterans and children since 2005.  He moved back to San Antonio in 2015.  His passion and dedication to helping kids with special needs brought him to Upward Transitions.  Not only does he spend time in the arena during lessons but he also serves as the Treasurer of the organization. Brian’s professional career of initiating and launching new programs is a valuable strength for both his business understanding and the overall operations of UTTH.  Brian enjoys spending time with his spunky teenage daughter and working on his property outside the Helotes area.

Denise Reding

Denise grew up on a farm in Kansas and has relied on the work ethic and values she learned from her parents.  She started working with AT&T in 1990 and transferred to San Antonio in 1993.  She enjoyed mentoring many young professionals and watching them achieve success.  After 27 years, Denise retired and now enjoys spending time with her family and doing all things outdoors.  She was “hooked” on the benefits of therapeutic riding the first time she visited a facility and is delighted to be serving in the role of Executive Director with Upwards Transitions.  Denise has 2 sons and lives on a small place outside Helotes.

Darrell Hunt

Darrell grew up in a small Texas town where the population was only 1,700 people. During his teen years his family owned two horses, and he has great memories in riding and caring for them, along with the sense of peace and calm that they brought into his life. After high school Darrell moved to San Antonio where he earned his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and he then moved to Seattle and Florida. With a desire to come back home to be closer to family, Darrell moved back to Texas, and currently lives in Helotes where he now works as an analytic manager for a large bank/mortgage company. From the moment he volunteered with UTTH, the wonderful memories of being around horses, and their amazing therapeutic benefits came back to him. Not only did Darrell notice those benefits for himself, but he has seen firsthand how much it has benefitted the riders, and he learns something new from them with each and every lesson. In addition to UTTH he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and their three rescue dogs.  

Amber Werenskjold

Amber serves as the Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator for Upward Transitions.  She and her husband, Traften, who is an Army Apache Pilot, live in Pipe Creek with their 2 children.  She is a recent graduate of Troy University where she got her bachelor’s degree in Human Services with a minor in American Sign Language.  Since her junior year of high school, she has worked with children with special needs of all kinds and all ages.  Her husband’s military career has had her all over the country allowing the availability to meet all kinds of people.  Amber came to UTTH to gain knowledge and internship hours.  She soon realized she loved the program, the kids and the community.  Now a veteran’s wife, Amber hopes to utilize her teaching and child advocacy background as well as her personal experiences to strengthen the program at UTTH and help make her community a better place.

Claire Wood

Claire grew up in the small town of Whitehall, Maryland where she owned her own horse from the age of 6 until she entered college.  Upon being graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, Claire enlisted in the United States Army in 2002.  After 4 duty station moves and 4 deployments, Claire was stationed at Ft Sam Houston in San Antonio where discovered Upward Transitions.  She is currently a Master Sergeant working as a Career Counselor for the US Army Medical Department Center and School Health Readiness Center of Excellence. Claire came to the program on September 9, 2017 and has been a reliable volunteer ever since.  Her attention to detail, planning prowess and experience with both human development and horses assists her in being a valuable asset to the program.  She is extremely hard working and flexible contingent upon the needs of both the rider and horse.  Her dedication to duty and excellence is a direct reflection on the professionalism and success of the program.

Megan Hays

Megan was first introduced to the world of English dressage riding when she was 9 years old, after that she was hooked and has been riding ever since! Megan grew up just north of San Antonio in Spring Branch. She worked at a small animal veterinary clinic in the area shortly after high school, until she obtained her Emergency Medical Technician license in 2012.  Shortly thereafter she enlisted in the Army as a Combat Medic. After completing her enlistment at Fort Campbell, KY, Megan returned to her hometown of San Antonio to complete her Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. Megan completed her degree in 2018 and is now working on her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Texas Tech University Health Science Center. Megan hopes to connect her love of horses and her desire to help others with our growing program and be a part of the Upward Transitions family for years to come. 

Tim Peterson

Tim is currently a senior Public Administration major at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He began volunteering with Upward Transitions in 2017 for volunteer hours and has been with the organization ever since. Alongside his Public Administration Major, Tim has a minor in Non-Profit management, which he hopes to utilize in assisting UTTH. He will be graduating this May. Outside of school, work, and volunteering, Tim is a musician, and will be a member of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps this summer.