who we are...

meet the performing pearls


Meg Brinton

Meg Brinton has been an avid horsewoman since junior high. Her grandfather raised thoroughbreds and even jockeyed his own horses. Although she never knew him, she believes her passion for horse came from him. Most of her life’s work has been as an equine veterinarian and she owns Ridgefield Equine Clinic. Even though she loves all horses, through her work as a veterinarian she noticed the unique connection the Friesian horse has with humans. Because she has seen these horses create joy and healing she is very devoted to giving back by sharing these wonderful animals through equine performance art. She along with a core group of founders was instrumental in forming the non-profit. She also rides dressage at FEI level and performs with the BlackPearls. She is always looking for that special Friesian that could do both. Her Friesian, Jupiter is a cornerstone of the troupe and is one of the sweetest horses you will ever meet.

Karen Ringquist

Well-established Certified Public Accountant by weekday, adventure-junkie whenever she can cut free, Karen Ringquist balances her life of detail and accuracy at her computer screen with hobbies that require no less precision but produce a rush of adrenaline. White-water rafting and kayaking, mountaineering and hiking, cycling, and Ironman triathlons; Karen fills her life with sports that require skill, strength, endurance, and obviously, determination.
In her quest for new adventures, Karen started riding lessons in 2007 at age 40, a long time to wait for a woman who has been horse-crazy since before she could crawl.  Combining her passions for horses and the outdoors, she initially focused on trail riding and alpine horse camping.
Karen purchased Cavalli as a five year old former halter champion in 2011. After trail rides and getting to know each other, she realized that her beautiful grey Arabian enjoys performing tricks. Following her horse’s cue, she found Lukas Bardue, who has been the driving force teaching Cavalli and Karen the art of liberty.
Performing seems to be in Cavalli’s genetic makeup, so he and Karen are together learning the art of dressage riding. Cavalli has performed his liberty act at BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe events, and Karen and he officially joined the troupe in late 2012. Both horse and rider are thrilled to be a part of this talented group who give so much, to each other, and the community.

Kammian Slesh

HI! My name is Kammian Slesh, and I have been horse crazy since I was little. I started riding in my early teen years and have been hooked ever since. My Paint Gelding and I love trail riding and camping with our friends. We have been learning some Dressage over the last year as well. New adventures for us both!
I have been a member of the BPFDT for 3 years now, and every year I enjoy it even more than the last. Watching this group of wonderful people and horses bring joy and healing to people is amazing and truly a blessing. I am very excited to be performing with this group in the coming years.

Jessica Wisdom

Jessica Wisdom was born in Virginia and raised all over the world. Her military family moved a lot and change was constant, but her love for horses never wavered. She worked for rides at a military stable in CA and after several years, was given her first horse.  One turned into many and eventually turned into her life’s passion..  Now a 20 year veteran of the industry, she teaches, trains and show full time as well as standing her riding partner, North Forks Cardi whom she trained from Training level all the way to winning National and CDI championships at the Grand Prix level.
Jessica coaches several of the Pearls who are working to improve their dressage skills and her and “Brown Pearl” Cardi join in the performances when needed. She enjoys being part of the Troupe’s efforts to share the magic of horses to the community. 

Rachel Lusby

Rachel was born and raised in Portland, OR.  All her life she has wanted a horse, “it took until I was 45 years old to get my first horse, everyday I wake up and have to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  Hawk is such a wonderful horse I feel like I have won the lottery! Being involved with the BlackPearls has made my life so full.  The experiences I have had in touching others with the love of the horse are beyond words.”

Elena Tipikin

Elena’s whole world revolved around horses way before she could even talk.  She was surprised by her very own horse at the age of 12. He was an appendix quarter horse named Tucker. They were inseparable and with their fast-budding relationship, Tucker quickly became her first heart horse. She joined 4-H and in high school joined the Oregon High School Equestrian Team (OHSET) where she was able to try a broad variety of disciplines ranging from English and Western equitation/pleasure, team penning/sorting, drill, showmanship, driving, saddleseat, dressage and jumping. Her passion at the time was jumping and on weekends would volunteer as a working student at a local facility in exchange for jumping lessons. There she met her dream horse. A grey 17 hand Oldenburg gelding named Jakob that she still owns and loves.
The first time she met the Black Pearls was in 2013 at the North West Horse Expo in Albany. It was her first time meeting a Friesian in person and the experience was simply magical. Imagine the amount of courage it took to send an email asking to become a volunteer. She would have never expected how much her life was about to change with a press of that button. She officially joined the following year and would help as a groom/ground crew behind the scenes for the next 2 years and would then introduce her sister Kira to the troupe as well. 
 2018 would mark as one of the most memorable years in Elena’s life. She never dreamed in a million years that she would be able to have a friesian of her own. But fate would bring Ebony into her life and her very own fairytale would begin. Together they made their debut as new performing members and are actively training and showing in dressage. The Black Pearls have truly become her second family and she couldn’t thank them enough for all the wonderful opportunities, incredible memories and truly special moments they have gifted her. She hopes to inspire future young riders to reach for the stars and show them that it is possible to achieve their dreams, just as the BlackPearls have done for her.



Kira Tipikin

I have been riding since I was about nine years old and throughout my horse experience have ridden a variety of horses and disciplines. I’ve also had a chance to be apart of 4-H and OHSET which has taught me the importance of patience, team work, goal setting and much, much more. I currently own two sassy mares: a 16 year old white Arabian, and a 11 year old Quarter horse mix. They have gotten me through tough times and have always been there when I needed them most, even if they do have their little quirks. I have always been deeply in love with every aspect of horses and would much rather be with them than doing anything else.
Imagine my surprise when my sister, Elena, told me she was volunteering for the Black Pearl Friesians Dance Troupe. My jaw dropped and I was stunned when I found out the Troupe was full of these beautiful and gorgeous Friesians. I too later became a volunteer and fell deeper in love with the horses. The members were very warm and welcoming and are today some of the best people I have ever met. Not too long ago I finally became a member myself and have had the time of my life with these wonderful people and horses, I owe everything to them for allowing me to ride their gorgeous creatures and be apart of their beautiful family. I am blessed to continue my horse career along side these beautiful ladies who have made me feel at home since the beginning.

Amy Victoria Vesneske




Grace Safranski

Grace has loved, ridden and played with horses from backyard ponies in her early days to bigare, named Brianna.  For eight months the new pair worked hard to prepare for many hopeful seasons to come of practice and competing only to find hard disappointment when Brianna was found lame.
Happily, almost 2 years later from when the significant ‘dream-horse’ door had closed, another incredible door was found opened… this was when she became introduced to the Black Pearl Friesian Dance Troupe in the winter of 2016. A relationship flourished with the Troupe’s horses and gifted team participants, as well as a developed connection with community awed by these magnificent black Friesians. She is thankful for the dedication and support of the Black Pearl team and through her commitment as an Affiliate member and part of the ‘ground crew’, she has grown into a Performing member with the Troupe and gives much of that credit to Friesian, Doekle and instructor, Jessica Wisdom who helped make this opportunity her “dream come true”.



Your Name Here...

The Troupe found behind the scenes


Lauren Burrell

Lauren Denyse Burrell; MBA, graduate gemologist and entrepreneur, had her very own stable at the age of six.  One built specially for Lauren by her dad for the growing herd of Breyer Horses.  Missy, a mischievous Welsh pony, trotted onto the scene teaching Lauren how to ride ~ even though they somehow always ended up in the apple orchard. It was the love of this little bay, which sparked the flame of equine passion in Lauren’s heart.  A flame that burned brightly during her early days in Connecticut, riding everyday after school at the Red Barn with her two best friends Lori and Windsor Spirit, Lauren’s beautiful black mare.  Days spent gaming, jumping, showing western pleasure with hours upon hours of trail riding were the joys of summer ~ winter too.  At college Lauren rode hunters, played a Chukker or two of Polo and was inspired to try dressage.  After graduation Lauren enjoyed a job that included traveling but unfortunately no horses.  However, once she made her home in the Pacific Northwest horses once again lit the flame.  Thanks to Dr. Meg Brinton, a beautiful bay thoroughbred mare, Kiltee, snuck in and stole her heart, for seven years they played at jumping, western dressage, tried cow sorting and finally settled into dressage.  It was a wonderful dynamic learning partnership. During this time Lauren met Susan McIntosh & Susan Dyer and their amazing black Friesian stallions. In 2008 Susan asked her if she would like to join the Pearls and ride Jupiter in a performance to benefit the Silver Buckle Ranch.  So began a new passion, equine performance art, baroque horses and bling.  Lauren says: “Sharing these glorious horses with young and old alike ~ seeing the smiles of wonder ~ tears of joy ~ hearts brimming with love and dreams full of horses touches your very soul ~ I am living my dream, and truly BELIEVE if I can do it you can too! As Lauren currently searches for her next equine partner she has stepped out of the stirrups to allow others of the troupe to step up and feel the JOY! Hoof Beats to Hearts!!”


I was born and raised in Hertfordshire, England and immigrated to the US with my husband in 1989 (aged 25). My past with horses is diverse; I am a self-taught trail rider, who as a child would save up my pocket money so I could ride horses at the local barn.  I often dreamed about owning one, but never thought it would really happen…. years later I fulfilled the dream.
About 9 years ago I had a tragic accident whilst trail riding at the base of Mount St Helens.  After the injuries healed, I felt emotionally unready to ride again.  So with much heartache I gave my horse to a good friend who would care for him in ways I could not.
After several years, my heart still yearned for a large 4-legged companion and so I plucked up the courage to try again.  I found Eli, one of my current horses., our bond soon strengthened and I felt complete.  But who doesn’t want to say, “Yes, that beautiful black Friesian is mine”?  So, the opportunity came for me to buy Hunter. 
My reasons for joining the Pearls are many.  I fell in love with the majesty, kindness and huge capacity for love that the Friesian horse possesses.  Even though I don’t ride Hunter myself during the shows, I love that he can still be involved with the troupe.  There are also many ways for me to contribute as an affiliate (non performing) member, which is when I became involved with the costume/creative design committee.  I have fun playing with fabrics and costume ideas and pretty much anything that sparkles.  I have worked on the revamp of the carousel topper for last year’s performance as well as a unique princess costume for the same act.  I find it incredibly rewarding to see my creations bringing joy to so many.
We have a diverse group of talented riders whom I have enjoyed getting to know.  Some I can identify closely with as they have been in similar situations to me physically and emotionally and have faced their fears and overcome them.  The courage and determination it takes to get back in the saddle again and again (and some of us are not spring chickens anymore, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves!), is a constant reminder and demonstration of their strength and courage and an incredible source of inspiration.  We all have our own unique challenges and confront them with the knowledge that, we have all been there, done that…etc. and know that a shoulder to cry on, a big hug or a high five is close by. 
I am in awe of these ladies and of course their 4-legged companions! And I am proud to be part of the Black Pearl family. Such an amazing group of men and women whom I enjoy watching performing the sometimes life changing interactions between people, horses and their riders.   I believe the greatest gift anyone can give another person, is their time and full attention – a connection.
Changing lives one horse at a time. 
It feels good to share! 
Affiliate Member


Registered as Kening Noble, but known as “Kingston” a Friesian gelding. Born in Holland and found his way to the United States and to his forever home with Tanya in October of 2016. Tanya has always had a passion for horses and has been riding ever since she could walk. As a kid, she enjoyed 4H and remembers waking up in the morning and waiting for sunrise so she could go ride until sunset.
 “I feel blessed to be part of the Pearls. It’s a wonderful feeling to be part of such a positive group of women.”

Peyton Burnett

Hello. My name is Peyton, and I was born with a disability called Arthrogryposis. Basically, that means that my joints are frozen in odd angles. I don’t have as much motion as other people, but I make it work. I have to walk with braces on my legs, and when the ground is uneven, I use a wheelchair. Over the span of my life, my family and I have come up with many different ways to work with my disability. Instead of using my hand to write, I use my mouth! In fact, I’m typing this on my iPad with my elbow!
I first met the members of the BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe in March of 2012, about two weeks after I broke my hip. We were at the NW Horse Expo, in Albany Oregon. My mom and I went to one of the Pearl performances, and really enjoyed it. After the performance, we went to meet the horses. I, of course, was in my chair, so I was not expecting any horses to actually like me. I drove around, meeting all the horses and people, and then I met Jupiter. He put his head in my lap and from that point on we were buddies!! My mom and I have gone to Albany every year since then to visit with all of the wonderful BlackPearls!
The members of the BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe are the most inspirational people I have ever met, and it is a privilege to be able to return that kindness as much as I can! They mean the world to me, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Lukas Bardue

It all began in 1983, when I was 3 years old in Anchorage, Alaska. That first time I was put on the little Shetland pony head to tail with the others on the pony rides, I was hooked. From that point on I would lie and sneak away to just feel that velvet nose, that warm moist breath, and the smell that could take you to another world. I even remember getting a whipping for sneaking away and riding someone’s horse in a field cause I lied about what I was doing. “It was worth it!”
Thirty years later I have managed, and was privileged, to run away and join a circus “Arabian Nights”, work at the Kentucky Horse Park, go to school for Equine Science, and travel the country.  I have had the privilege to work with some of the most distinguished trainers in the entertainment world like, Laura Amandis, Julius Van Yule, Tommy Turvey, Caroline Williams, and the late “Gaylord Maynard”.  I have also been fortunate to ride some of the top show horses in the country riding on the breed circuits, playing Polo, rodeos, and just having fun. That is what it is all about! Horses have enriched my life in so many ways, taken me to so many places, and brought so many important people in my life that I could never repay the debt I have to this creature.

Pat Brown

Life takes us on many twists and turns and it’s an amazing journey. When I was little of course I dreamed of owning a horse. What little girl doesn’t? I was an Army brat and never even knew anyone that had a horse but I did have a beautiful collection of porcelain horses that I collected when we were stationed in Germany. As a child and as an adult for that matter, the closest I got to a horse was on “nose to tail” trail rides when we were on vacations. That was my happy place though and I grinned from ear to ear. But dreams do sometimes come true and when I was 65 I was given a beautiful 24 year old Arabian named Amir!
This path to horse ownership all started with my husband of 46 years and a fishing trip six years ago to Panama. While Jerry deep sea fished, I got to ride in the jungle and on the beaches every morning and afternoon – just me and the owner of the fishing lodge. I was in heaven! When we got home I decided I wanted serious time with horses. That’s where I found my way to volunteering with a therapeutic riding center where I learned to groom, saddle, clean stalls and be a side walker assisting children and adults with all kinds of disabilities. From there I took some riding lessons, met people with horses and eventually was given the opportunity to lease Amir. At my barn there was a wonderful barn manager, very kind and helpful boarders, two Black Pearl riding members and three BP volunteers who mentored this very green rider. Nine months later I was given the opportunity to own Amir and my husband said, “I think you should do it.” Words can not express what the Black Pearls have taught me, how I value them as friends and how I love their mission statement. They supported me through a recent year of breast cancer and now I personally know the healing our equine partners provide. I have volunteered with them for about three years. I’m 68; Amir is 28 and God willing we plan to grow old together!

Melissa Dutson


Kathy Spence

Affiliate Member

Lia Tipikin

Affiliate Members

Stacie & Jade Keezer

Affiliate Member

Megan McGaffigan


Dan Kern

Bevy Ryan

Betty Cacho

Scroll to Top