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Shelly Whitlock-Pope, Ed.D.

Executive Director

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

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 a degree in Health Administration, followed by two Master’s degrees, one in Elementary Education (Teaching), and a second in Administration, she also has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy. Shelly’s diverse experience is an asset 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

Program Director

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

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 an intensive Instructor Training Course and earned my PATH, Intl. Certification as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Most recently I became EAGALA Certified as an Equine Specialist. As the Program Director at Shepard Meadows I am fortunate to meet and get to know all of our participants and their families and to share my passion with them. While I still teach many lessons throughout the week, I also enjoy the program development at the center. 

Nicole Mulhall

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, PATH Certified International Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning

Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and certified in EMDR and hypnotherapy.  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 Kievit Barrett

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Amy Barrett is the owner of Strides in Wellness, LLC. Amy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a PATH Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and her Masters in Social Work from UConn School of Social Work. She has provided therapy in an extended day treatment program and schools, but found her calling with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Amy is trained in Natural Lifemanship and enjoys incorporating the therapeutic benefits of horses into her practice. Amy has been a volunteer at Shepard Meadows for many years and is thrilled to now be practicing at this location. In her spare time Amy enjoys traveling, exercising, and baking. 

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!

Tim Woodworth

Property Manager

Tim is a retired machinist from Pratt & Whitney. He started volunteering at the farm for morning chores, and soon after he had a “to do” list of his own on our white board.  He is an amazing carpenter and is handy all-around. He and his wife Bev live in Bristol, and she volunteers with us now too!

Jeri Ricupero

Property Caretaker

Gardener Extraordinaire

Jeri became our property caretaker in the spring of 2021 after having volunteered at the center for several years. Always reliable, we are so pleased to have her on staff. If you volunteer in the morning, you’ll be working with Jeri.

Megan Burg

Equine Caregiver

PATH, Intl. CTRI in Training

Alyssa Carlone

Equine Caregiver

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor