Meet our Instructors
We teach our students to feel confident and proficient in every aspect of horsemanship. Self-assurance, confidence, and discipline come not only from riding but also the time the students spend working with the horses in the barn outside of lessons. Inevitably, riders (and parents) become part of the close-knit VRA family. Friendships form while students perform chores, assist each other, and bond over horses.
PAIGE WILLIAMS – Instructor & Barn Manager
MELANIE SOUTHARD – Instructor ‘Emeritus’
Ann Chakales - Instructor
Ann grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia and began riding hunt seat equitation as an eight year old. She competed regionally in hunt seat competitions on the flat and over fences.
As a member of the Bedford County Hunt Club, in Goode, VA, Ann was 16 when she was awarded the privilege of wearing the colors of the Bedford County Hunt Club on her hunt coat collar. Colors are traditionally awarded after a series of junior foxhunts over several seasons and by demonstrating a love for the sport. Ann was a member of the Bedford County Pony Club whose mission is to provide youth programs that teach riding, mounted sports, and the care of horses and ponies, thereby developing responsibility, moral judgment, leadership and self-confidence. This affiliation allowed her to compete in regional Pony Club rallies and events.
During her four years at the University of Virginia, Ann was a member of the UVA Riding Team, a club sport registered through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. In her junior year she qualified for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s National Championships show. By her senior year, she was named captain of the Virginia Riding Team.
After moving to Atlanta in 1980, Ann began learning dressage at Vogt Riding Academy. When her daughter started vaulting in the late 1990’s, Ann began assisting with the class. By 2000, she began teaching beginner lessons, as well as assisting as an instructor in other classes at the barn.
At three years old, Melanie rode her first horse in a Paducah, Kentucky field of daisies and insisted on holding the reins. At five, her dad taught her how to post. Melanie’s family moved to Atlanta in 1966, and Mrs. Vogt said that at nine years old she was too small to ride. Mr. Vogt told Melanie if she could keep the nose of her horse out of the rear of the horse in front of her she could take lessons. Melanie proved herself, and Mr. Vogt declared her “small but scrappy.”
Melanie no longer lives in Atlanta, but her experience at Vogt Riding Academy (VRA) remains close to her heart--so much so that she continues to instruct at the barn when time permits. In her youth, she helped break and train the Lipizzaners at VRA. She also trained in hunter equitation and fox hunted at Belle Meade with Anneliese, whose parents owned VRA. In her 20’s, Melanie taught canter collection and pirouettes to barrel racers during a two-year stint in California. After doing graduate work in Family and Child Counseling, Melanie taught fourth grade for four years. To this day, she loves all things equestrian and is a certified United States Dressage Federation (USDF) instructor for training through second level.
In the late 1980’s Melanie worked with students from training level to eventing at the Prospect Park Barn, NY. In the 1990’s, she served as the head trainer at Catskills Mountain Dressage in Delancey, NY where she worked with Gunnar Oostergaard and Lendon Grey. During that same period, Melanie purchased a five year-old Dutch warm-blood, Egor, training him herself through the Grand Prix Level and earning USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medals.
From 2000-2005, Melanie worked as head trainer at Orion Dressage Academy, in Goshen, NY instructing teams through the fourth level and on to Lendon Grey’s Junior Young Rider Team Championships. In 2003, she acquired her horse, Popstar, training and showing him from first to Prix St. Georges. In 2005-2010, Melanie started a barn in Ocala, FL with a partner where she worked with Lars Petersen and Lisa Wilcox. Then in 2010, she moved to NC where she continued training and teaching, as well as instructing at VRA.
Melanie is currently in the process of moving to San Marcos, TX but continues to stay connected to VRA. Her favorite horse is Schale because she remembers riding his grandparents.
Amy Kane- Stanely -
Amy started riding as an adult at Vogt Riding Academy in 1996. After several years of riding in the adult classes, she began helping with the vaulting program on Saturdays. For numerous years she served as the assistant instructor and in the late 1990’s became the main instructor for the class each week. In spite of taking time off to have kids of her own, Amy has stayed involved with vaulting continuously in some fashion. Since 2008, Amy has been the full-time instructor for the program. She has three children, including two daughters who have both been through the vaulting program and are now riding in group lessons. She has successfully taken numerous students through the program who have moved on to compete with Anneliese as young adults, including Sarah Crosier who came back to teach after college! The joy of introducing the young students to the barn and the horses as well as helping them develop into confident riders is very satisfying for Amy and she looks forward to watching many more grow up at Vogt Riding Academy.
Paige Williams -
Paige has been riding since she was six years old and has worked with a variety of trainers in both the hunter/jumper and dressage world. Paige started as a hunter rider at age six and then transitioned to the more exciting stadium jumping world with one of her two horses that was shown successfully in the Midwest. To continue riding throughout college Paige was a part time working student and rode as both a dressage and event rider throughout college while completing her Biology Major from Muskingum University. Paige spent a year as a full time working student at both Valhalla Farms in Wellborn Florida, and Windswept Farms in Leesburg Virginia. With her trainer Sara Spofford she wintered in Wellington Florida at Lars Petersen’s barn with 6 horses including her own at the time. Paige also spent a brief time in the exotic animal world before settling at Vogt Riding Academy and is thrilled to work with Anneliese and all the fantastic students at the Academy.
Paige is the current barn manager and beginner/intermediate instructor. She is a dedicated and attentive teacher with riders of all ages and backgrounds.