Meet the Team
When their paths first crossed in Washington DC, the founders of Bella Terra Stables unknowingly shared similar dreams of a full time career in equine-assisted therapy work. Whether serendipitous or coincidence, leave it to the horses to bring together the perfect match for our equine-assisted psychotherapy team, which consists of a licensed mental health professional, an equine specialist, and of course, horses.
Amber is the third generation of horse professionals in her family to make Murrysville, PA her home after returning from a 20-year career as the General Manager of Rock Creek Park Horse Center, Washington DC's only public stable. Her frequent observation of the healing power horses had for people led her to seek and achieve certification as an Equine Specialist through EAGALA in 2018.
Ilse's experience of living abroad in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Austria, laid a strong foundation for compassionate service and an informed global perspective on the human conditions of suffering and healing. After a 15 year career as a professional photographer, Ilse returned to University for an MA in Professional Counseling Psychology and became a licensed professional therapist (LPC), and more recently, a certified grief counselor specialist (CGCS). Early in 2019, Ilse became a certified Mental Health Professional with EAGALA.
Max came to Bella Terra Stables because he has asthma and was no longer able to work in the riding programs he'd been a part of for over 15 years. His cheeky demeanor and passion for eating makes him endearing and relatable to many of the kids in crisis who work with him.
Okie is the newest member of our team, however, he comes with a lot of experience. Okie worked in the Therapeutic Riding and Wounded Warrior programs, as well as our equine-assisted therapeutic program. He is a sweet guy and a welcome addition to the family.
Joey is our lead therapist. His gentle and unique way with children makes him our go-to for our youngest clients in crisis. Joey has a rare disease causing him to no longer have teeth which limits his ability to graze. His diet has to be very carefully planned out to keep him healthy.
Cei Cei was found abandoned and in bad shape, showing signs of abuse. After being loved and cared for, she became the lead horse in a thriving therapeutic riding program before the pandemic shut it down. She now serves kids who have experienced trauma with compassionate understanding.
Fiona is our youngest team member and is a therapist-in-training. She is a great athelete and spent many years competing in shows in Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. On a break from her show days, Fiona is working to see if being a therapist is a good fit for her.
Della spent her career as a public trail horse and lost her job when the pandemic hit.
Because of her age, she did not have a place in other programs. She has a soft and very perceptive heart and is a go-to for struggling teens and pre-teens.
When LittleBit was rescued from a situation of bad neglect. Her hooves were so long they were beginning to curl up, making walking difficult for her. Despite her past, she has risen to her new role and demonstrates that size doesn't matter in the arena.