Susan Kosoglad Packer
Diana Schnell, Executive Director
Jan is a nationally certified and Illinois licensed massage therapist and has been a part of the Equestrian Connection team since 2006. She is a member of National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and is trained in many different modalities, including Swedish massage, CranioSacral Therapy, Muscle Release techniques, Trigger Point Therapy, and Myofascial Release. She also practices Healing Touch for Humans and Animals - an energy based approach to health and healing that can assist the body in its natural ability to heal. Jan's dog, Sonny, is in training for pet therapy work and accompanies her to Equestrian Connection, bringing smiles to many children and adults.
Marla Tracy, Licensed Clinical Social Instructor
Sam Stadlman, MAAT
Andrey Parvanov, PT
Sally earned her Bachelor's Degree in Social Work (group work) and her Master's Degree in Rehabilitative Recreation from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Her work experience includes Public Recreation and Public Recreation for special needs populations. Equestrian Connection brings together her life-long love of horses, working with people of all ages and needs, her academic and career background and her joy of helping others. Sally has been at Equestrian Connection since 2006 following three years of working in another therapeutic riding program. She received her PATH International Certification in 2007. In addition to working with individual clients, Sally organizes and creates curriculum and program for many of the field trips that come to Equestrian Connection. Most of all, Sally has fun creating fun for others.
Joyce Berger, OTR/L
Wendy Gilchrist, MBA and MAAT
Reena de Lanerolle, CRC
Colette is a licensed clinical psychologist and a certified therapeutic riding instructor. She combines her psychology background with her riding experience to specialize in working with riders who experience emotional/psychological/social concerns. She has been with Equestrian Connection since 2006 and she absolutely loves to see the smile and pride on a rider's face after mastering a new skill.
Julie Ludwick, ATR and LCPC
Julie is a registered art therapist and licensed clinical professional counselor in the State of Illinois. She has her Master of Arts in art therapy degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As an artist, Julie uses her art making to examine thoughts and questions in her life and work. Julie has worked at Equestrian Connection since 2006.
Joyce is a registered occupational therapist with over 30 years of pediatric experience, specializing in neurodevelopmental treatment, sensory integration, and children with cerebral palsy and autism. She received her training in hippotherapy 20 years ago and has worked at Equestrian Connection since 2007. Her belief is that therapy should be fun and the trick is making the child "believe" that he is in control.
Lynn received her Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship certification in October 2009 after volunteering at Equestrian Connection for two years. She has been riding hunters and jumpers all her life and enjoys teaching. She continues to ride and train at a nearby facility and thinks it helps her understand how to communicate skills to her clients. She is also on the Equestrian Connection Board of Directors and is active in fund raising.
Ann has been a Licensed Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and has worked part-time at Equestrian Connection since 2008. She earned her Masters of Occupational Therapy from Texas Women's University and initially worked with individuals with stroke, brain and spinal cord injuries. Believing that the best therapeutic intervention is engaging individuals in enjoyable activities in their community, Ann teaches Hippotherapy at Equestrian Connection, therapeutic aquatic classes and Special Olympic swimming. She swam for The University of Alabama in college and holds Aquatic Instructor Certifications in Therapy and Fitness, Ai Chi, Rheumatology and Pediatrics. Ann is thankful that her interest in animal-assisted therapy led her to Equestrian Connection.
Katie is a licensed physical therapist who joined the Equestrian Connection family as a volunteer while attending graduate school. She earned Bachelor of Science in Dietetics in 2010 from Arizona State University and her Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2015 from Rosalind Franklin University. Katie works full time at a rehabilitation hospital in Chicago and part time in an acute care setting with older adults. She has always been interested in hippotherapy treatment and so began working weekends at EC in January of 2016. Katie most enjoys seeing children come out of their shell to interact with the horses and staff while learning new skills in their session. She feels that coming to EC is the best part of her week and is the most rewarding job she has.
Wendy was a successful business entrepreneur and painting was just her hobby. Then she decided to study fine arts and realized that giving painting lessons was her passion and preferred vocation. Over time she became a teacher of more than 300 students with special needs. Wendy pursued her Master in Art Therapy and is now a creative and professional art therapist. She provides her clients with a safe space which promotes a healing and therapeutic process. Some goals in her practice are: to increase self-esteem, to promote imagination, to facilitate self-expression, to build up social skills, independence, communication and self-care. Wendy joined Equestrian Connection family in 2014 and thinks working at EC is a pleasure and a gift of the Universe.
Reena received her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling from Adler University in 2016. She received her undergraduate degree from Kenyon College. She has been an avid equestrian for nearly 20 years with experience in horse management, horse assignment for therapeutic purposes, vaulting and several years of competition on the hunter/jumper circuit. She finds great joy in teaching and learning; her experience at Equestrian Connection is filled with both. She is happiest when working with clients, horses and volunteers.
Linda had her first exposure to therapeutic riding when she volunteered at Equestrian Connection in 2010, and she hasn’t looked back since. In 2013 she headed off the Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she continued to follow her passion for therapeutic riding and received her PATH certification as a therapeutic instructor in 2014 and her PATH certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning in 2015. Linda has Masters Degrees in anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Public Health, was a writer and editor for almost twenty years, and has worked with diverse populations both here and abroad. She brings her love of horses and their amazing power to help and heal to her work at EC. She is especially happy to be back here among her favorite two-legged and four-legged buddies.
Tessa is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin La Crosse with a Bachelor's Degree in Biology. She plans to further pursue her education to become a registered nurse. Tessa developed her passion for horses 15 years ago after going horseback riding with her Girl Scout troop. Tessa truly enjoys the work she does with the two and four-leggeds at Equestrian Connection.
Our Staff of Therapists and Instructors
Sarah is a licensed physical therapist who specializes in working with the pediatric population both here at Equestrian Connection and at a nearby outpatient pediatric practice. She believes that animal assisted therapy brings a component to rehabilitation that creates a unique bond with the client and often provides a level of motivation unsurpassed in more traditional therapy settings. Sarah founded and runs an animal assisted therapy program for her outpatient practice with her golden retriever Logan who also enjoys visits to the barn when his schedule allows! Sarah earned her Masters in Physical Therapy from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA in 2006. She is certified in neurodevelopmental technique (NDT) and specializes in working with children with neurologic and other movement disorders using this hands on, dynamic approach. Sarah has volunteered in multiple hippotherapy/therapeutic facilities across the country and loves being a part of the EC family.
Prior to 2001 when she cofounded Equestrian Connection, Diana consulted for Baxter Healthcare for four years in Sales and Marketing. From 1980 through 1995 Diana held positions in marketing and production planning for Baxter Healthcare Corporation. Schnell holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Health Science from Lake Forest College where she was an All American swimmer and served on the Board of Directors upon graduation. She also graduated with honors with an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Business in 1984.
Diana is an active member in the Lake Forest Running Club and has competed in 4 Ironman competitions to raise over $1 million for Equestrian Connection. Her mission is to engage the community to help those with special needs to provide financial assistance for therapy services.
Our Administrative Staff:
Operations Director and Equine Manager: Leslie Magnuson; Equine Consultant: Sally Smith; Training Director: Robin Warren; Special Programs Director: Colette Collins; Officer Manager: Paula Meyer; Receptionist: Nancy Knippen-Carreno
Website: Emily McArdle, Priscilla Sperling, Jamie Williams; Communications: Jamie Williams; Volunteer Coordinator: Linda Factor
Linda joined the Equestrian Connection staff in 2006. She is a certified PATH therapeutic riding instructor. A lifelong rider she has owned, trained and showed horses as well as taught riding and jumping skills. With a degree in psychology, she has also worked in the business world and the school system. Her greatest joy is seeing the smiles on her riders' faces as they master a new skill.
Terri joined the Equestrian Connection staff as a physical therapist in September 2011. Prior to working at EC, she was a physical therapist in the school setting, working with children from birth to 21 years of age with musculoskeletal and neurological disabilities. She has completed the American Hippotherapy Association Level I Equine Skills and Level I Treatment Principles courses. She feels it is pleasure and a privilege to work with clients, families, and coworkers at EC. Her personal interests include biking and downhill and cross country skiing.
We welcome Alysa as a full time therapist at Equestrian Connection. Alysa graduated from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama in 2013 with a masters in Occupational Therapy. She did a fieldwork rotation in therapeutic horseback riding/hippotherapy working primarily with children who had emotional, behavioral and grief problems and was amazed at the bonds the children and horses formed as well as the healing process that the bonds promoted. She used to ride and began volunteering at hippotherapy barns once she stopped. She has always been an advocate of animal assisted therapy. Her mother is a special education teacher and Alysa has always had a place in her heart for children with special needs. Alysa currently works full time during the week at Swedish Covenant hospital on an inpatient rehabilitation unit treating a variety of diagnoses including neurological and orthopedic conditions.
Sam is an art therapist and professional working artist. She earned her Master of Arts in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. Sam began interning at EC in 2014 and was thrilled to begin working here as a professional after her graduation. In her work as a therapist, she is inspired by the stories, emotions, needs, and wants of those with whom she works. She thinks of herself as being an adaptive art tool for her clients; her skillset aids in the focusing of expression. Sam feels that the relationship between her roles as an artist and art therapist is grounded in her outlook towards the individual, the knowledge in the power of expression, and acknowledging the need to be heard and seen.
Kelly M. Lynch, OTR/L
Terri Flaker, PT
Sarah Hehir, M.S.P.T., C/NDT
Kelly is a licensed Occupational Therapist and has worked at Equestrian Connection since September 2012. She earned her B.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Chicago State University. She works three days a week at Equestrian Connection and also works with older adults in a Skilled Nursing Facility. Kelly has completed her American Hippotherapy Association Level 1 Equine Skills and Level 1 Treatment Principles courses. She believes that using hippotherapy as a treatment strategy in her client’s plan of care can improve strength, balance, body awareness, and self-regulation skills to increase participation in their activities of daily living. She also feels that one of the most rewarding experiences is seeing a client form a connection with the horse they ride.
Ann Davidsen, OTR/L
Alysa Lucas, OTR/L
Colette Collins, Clinical Psychologistand Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Andrey was born and raised in Bulgaria where he graduated from the National Sports Academy. In 1999, he began working in the United Sates as a physical therapist at Waukegan Medical and Rehabilitation treating orthopedic injuries. Andrey treats many athletes from the Olympic level to the ordinary runner and had a personal knowledge of their problems as he is an athlete himself, having completed 8 Ironmen competitions and Vasaloppet, the longest cross-country ski race in the world. But Andrey's passion is working with disabled children. His advanced training has allowed him to provide hippotherapy and therapeutic riding to children at Equestrian Connection. He has been certified as Level 2 Hippotherapy the highest level since 2004. Andrey prides himself on his ability to connect with his patients. His motto "emotion brings motion" demonstrates how important connection is for a patient to move forward in the healing process. Andrey is dedicated to eliminating symptoms and restoring optimal health to each and every person he treats.
Sally Stewart, Recreational Therapist
Therapeutic Riding Instructors:
Pat joined the Equestrian Connection team as a volunteer over 10 years ago, after working with another therapeutic riding facility. With a degree in education from National College of Education, she has taught students from kindergarten through grade 9. Her education background has helped her when working with riders having a wide variety of ages and disabilities. She also enjoys helping coach the Red Stallions Drill Team and volunteering with special recreation groups. Combining her love of horseback riding and teaching, Equestrian Connection is a perfect fit. When not in the arena, you can usually find Pat kayaking or fishing on EC's lake.
Marla has a LCSW from Loyola University and spent most of her career working with adolescents and their families in a school setting. She has extensive experience dealing with a multitude of issues and helping families build resiliency as they face some of life's challenges. As a result of believing that the mind, body and spirit are all connected, Marla completed a 200-hour yoga teacher certification program. Marla believes that when someone is struggling in one area of their life, it impacts the other aspects and thus integrating yoga concepts into her counseling practice has been incredibly valuable. Since joining EC in 2014, Marla has brought a combination of yoga and counseling services to our staff and riders.
Mental Health Professionals
Robin has been a Certified (NARHA) PATH Therapeutic Riding Instructor at Equestrian Connection for 10 years after being a volunteer at EC. She has a horse of her own and has been riding horses for many years. She teaches independent and riders with special needs, and has begun to train EC's new and existing volunteers. She loves working with the kids and is so grateful for how they have "touched" her heart.
Katherine (Katie) Kelly, PT,DPT
Susan has been riding and jumping horses since the age of 8. She has been a certified PATH instructor since 2007 and worked at Equestrian Connection since 2011. Working with the kids and horses grounds her for everything else she does in her life. It is not only therapy for the kids, but for her as well. Seeing how far these kids have progressed and the bonding that comes with it is amazingly satisfying. Equestrian Connection has wonderful clients which we are honored to work with.