Our Team

Our animal treatment team can only be as good as our people, and thankfully, we have some good eggs here. With diverse backgrounds and unending passion towards making a difference, our team is a force to be reckoned with.


Erica de Flamand-Shugg

Executive Director / Founder, Equuvation Inc.
PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor [TRI]
PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning [ESMHL]

Born and raised on the shoreline of Connecticut, Erica grew up with an innate love of nature and animals. Childhood freedom often found her exploring the Timberlands near her home, creating original “paintings” from found mud, and swinging off a mystical bent dogwood that she knew as the “elbow tree”. There was never a time in her life without family dogs, and her mother's passion for horses ignited her own childhood love. From learning how to trot on a mischievous pony named Hobbit, to developing a {second} career within the industry, horses {and animals of all kinds} have never escaped her daily life.

Erica explored a traditional equestrian path as a junior rider in hunters, jumpers, dressage, eventing and later, vaulting. She spent summers as a camp counselor for a youth riding program, and was the captain of her local Eventing Team through high school. Her first exposure to equine-assisted therapeutic activity was a result of searching for sophomore service hours at age 15, and she has never looked back since.

As Erica continued to volunteer in equine therapy programs, she became certified as a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Additional opportunities led her to explore the modalities of HorseBoy Method, Natural Lifemanship and RhythmicRiding. Over the years, Erica has worked with children, teens and adults who have special needs; individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, and Autism; and those whose lives have been impacted by trauma or chronic illness. Through it all, she has held onto a special interest in working with the at-risk youth population, which is who inspired her own journey in the field back in high school.

When she's not at the barn, Erica spends time with her better half and their dogs, Aida {english pointer} and Diego {vizsla}.

Click HERE to read Erica's full bio and learn more about Equuvation.


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Lisa Snyder

Assistant Ranch Manager

A native of upstate New York, Lisa joined the team in early 2015 as a Ranch Care Specialist; and quickly grew into the role of Assistant Ranch Manager. She brings a wealth of unique experience to the team including 24 years working at a nuclear power plant, which has developed her keen ability to work under pressure and in emergency situations. In addition, her previous tenure maintaining a vineyard, and later operating as a caretaker for a private equestrian estate, makes her a perfect fit for our team.

While each day varies, you can often find Lisa with a weed-eater in her hand, on a zero-turn or mentoring others on the team through the harder tasks. Perfectly mowed stripes on a lawn, digital checklists and seeing the ducks floating on their duck house bring her to a happy place. 

It can be said that anyone with a problem, comes to Lisa; and you can bet money on her honest and straight-forward approach {after all, she is a New Yorker!} She can trouble-shoot and fix most things in life, including busted machines, broken hearts and untrusting mules. 

When she is not at work, you can usually find Lisa spending time with her other half, and their cat, Marguerite.

The programs along The Discovery Trail could not operate without Lisa's attention to detail, sense of humor and empathy for others. She is one of the most reliable individuals we have ever worked with, and her dedication to our mission has allowed us to move the facility and programs forward more year-over-year.


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Patricia M. Ray

Senior Ranch Care Specialist

A jack of all trades and master of many, Trisha joined the team in the fall of 2015 as a Ranch Care Specialist. Her people-centric work history – including such roles as cake decorator, waitress, trail guide and barn assistant – has developed her natural desire to build strong relationships with others, both human and animal. 

Trisha is passionate about having horses in her life, and through working with them, has seen immense personal growth and resiliency to face her own challenges. Learning to ride as a child has not only grown into a love for the animal and the sport, but also a career path along The Discovery Trail. If you ask her who her “favorite” horse is, be prepared for her to list them all.

From exercising horses to bailing hay, interacting with clients or changing oil, Trisha not only tackles a diverse role, but she also knows where everything is thanks to her close partnership with the label maker. She works twice as hard as most people you will meet, and is willing to learn or try anything new. The best tractor operator on the farm, Trisha can often be found bush-hogging a field with her headphones on, while singing at the top of her lungs {… don't worry, all of the animals are used to it now}.

When she is not at work, you can find Trisha with her off-the-track Thoroughbred mare, Grace; or spending time with friends and family. 

Most everyone who has participated in one of our programs, or visited our farm for any reason, remembers Trisha. Her bright, energetic and kind personality is infectious; and in leading by example, the compassion she shows to others will make you yearn to be a better person yourself.


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Madison Simonson

Ranch Care Specialist

One of our newest team members, Madison joined our organization in the summer of 2017. Born and raised in Statesville, she is both creative and analytical, with talent for playing bass guitar and piano, gardening and binding miniature books.

Madison holds credentials as a Master Trail Builder, a skillset that has added incredible experience and a thoughtful approach to The Discovery Trail project. Having worked for Blue Ridge Trailworks alongside her father, she was instrumental in the design, creation and maintenance of multi-use trail systems across North and South Carolina including Lake Norman State Park, Latta Plantation, Carolina Thread Trail and State and National Park systems in Boone, Blowing Rock and Lake Wylie. She can hand-grade an area with a Rogue Hoe better than a machine, and if she ever goes missing, be sure to check the donkey's pasture.

When she is not at work, you can find Madison spending time with her husband, and caring for their two pet chameleons. Together, they have big dreams of renovating a small farm house and creating a sustainable farmstead of their own.

Madison brings strength to our organization through her practical, persistent and perfectionist approach. It is unusual to find someone with the experience in trail work such as she has, and we feel extremely fortunate to have her on our team.


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Courtney Elledge

Animal Care Specialist

The newest member of our team, Courtney started as a volunteer and now takes the lead on caring for our herd during the weekends. A sophomore at North Iredell High School, Courtney maintains a 4.3 GPA and several AP and Honors classes, while being dedicated to her family, friends and job.

A deep love for horses incited an interest in Natural Horsemanship, and Courtney has become a student of these methods. Her intentional approach has allowed her to make a connection with the more challenging and sensitive horses on the farm, and she has made great strides helping some of our herd members overcome their own negative experiences.

When she is not at work {or school}, you can find Courtney with her own horse – a mustang named Kiowa – who she has worked with to overcome many challenges including blindness and insecurity. 

Mature beyond her years, Courtney is kind and trustworthy, which has led her to quickly become a favorite among both our people and our animals.


Clinical and Education Team Members

Tracy Byrnes PATH Intl. Certified TRI and ESMHL Trauma-Focused Natural Lifemanship RhythmicRiding™ Board of Directors, Equuvation Program Director, Triple Play Farm Read her full bio here.

Tracy Byrnes
PATH Intl. Certified TRI and ESMHL
Trauma-Focused Natural Lifemanship
RhythmicRiding™
Board of Directors, Equuvation
Program Director, Triple Play Farm
Read her full bio here.

Kris Batchelor PATH Intl. Certified TRI and ESMHL Trauma-Focused Natural Lifemanship Certified HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response Canine/Handler Team Owner/Operator, Triple Play Farm Read her full bio here.

Kris Batchelor
PATH Intl. Certified TRI and ESMHL
Trauma-Focused Natural Lifemanship
Certified HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response Canine/Handler Team
Owner/Operator, Triple Play Farm
Read her full bio here.

Sarah J. Williams, LPC, NCC Owner and Therapist Spero Creative Counseling Center Read her full bio here.

Sarah J. Williams, LPC, NCC
Owner and Therapist
Spero Creative Counseling Center
Read her full bio here.

Rosie Molinary Author, Educator BA in African-American Studies and Urban Education Issues MFA-Creative Writing Read her full bio here.

Rosie Molinary
Author, Educator
BA in African-American Studies and Urban Education Issues
MFA-Creative Writing
Read her full bio here.