Alienum phaedrum torquatos nec eu, vis detraxit periculis ex, nihil expetendis in mei. Mei an pericula euripidis, hinc partem.


Shelly Whitlock-Pope, Ed.D.

Executive Director

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Connecticut State Representative for Region 1.

860-314-0007 (ext. 10)

Shelly has a varied background having worked in finance at a renowned cancer center, as a teacher and administrator for the NYC Department of Education, as Program Director at another therapeutic riding center, and Associate Professor of higher education. A PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Mentor and Site Evaluator, she is also EAGALA Certified as an Equine Specialist, and Special Olympics Equestrian Coach. With degrees in Health Administration, Elementary Education, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy, she brings much experience to the organization.  She was trained and rode English for years, and even patrolled NYC’s Central Park with the Mounted Auxiliary, but her true loves are riding the trails Western and her two American Quarter Horses!

Emily Eschner

Director of Programs

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning

860-314-0007 (ext. 11)

I was born and raised in Bristol where my passion for horses began at the age of 5. I was an active member of the Mad River Pony Club for many years and learned many horsemanship skills along the way. I have ridden competitively over the last 15 years throughout New England in recognized USEA horse trials and dressage competitions. In the summer of 2017, I completed the Instructor Training Course at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Inc. in Old Lyme, CT. It was a fantastic learning experience, where I gained hands on experience teaching students of all ages and abilities. In November 2017, I earned my certifications both as a PATH International Therapeutic Riding Instructor and as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Here at Shepard Meadows, I am fortunate to continue to share my passion with my students.

Sister Ann Frances Thompson

Volunteer Coordinator

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor

860-314-0007 (ext. 15)

Sister Ann is a PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Educator and Music Therapist. She comes to us from Michigan where she taught music during the day, and therapeutic riding one day a week for over 10 years. She founded a camp for children to learn to drive miniature horses, which is quite a remarkable feat. We are thrilled to have us on our team!

Nicole Mulhall

Licensed Certified Social Worker

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Nicole is a Licensed Certified Social Worker and Hypnotherapist.  Her objective is to help clients overcome challenges through an eclectic approach. In 2014 she founded Measurable Progress Therapy LLC. She previously worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker for The Bristol Hospital Counseling Center, and at other facilities as an Outpatient Therapist and Crisis Clinician. With over ten years experience as a therapist, she is also a horse enthusiast and equestrian.

Amy Degumbia

Instructor & Equine Specialist

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor


I grew up on a small farm and we owned a couple of horses.  I was 5 years old when I first started to ride, and 13 when I got a horse of my own – he was a young and spirited Arabian.  He just turned 32 and he is still full of life.  We competed in the Arabian Horse Association shows, mostly in dressage, but some jumping too.  I worked as a Veterinary Technician and gained a great deal of knowledge about animal health and first aid, and became Certified as an Animal Behaviorist.  I attended Tunxis Community College and Central Connecticut State University for my degree.  I am grateful to have horses as a part of my life, and I love to share that with the participants in our program!

Lily Bensko

Instructor & Equine Specialist

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Lily is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Equine Studies and Therapeutic Riding. She’s a talented rider and experienced riding instructor having interned at another center on top of her direct experience at the UNH. We are thrilled to have her and welcome her work evaluating and training horses as well.

Katie Rogers

Instructor & Equine Caregiver

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Katie has a long history with the center, from being a volunteer, to barn staff and now as a therapeutic riding instructor. She has put many hours in the saddle exercising our horses and knows them well. Her grandfather was one of the original board members and he raised, trained and showed Morgans for driving.

Janis Clifton

Visiting Instructor

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Megan Burg

Equine Caregiver

Alyssa Carlone

Equine Caregiver

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor (In Training)