Our Instructors

Bree Vining

Instructor in Training

Bree Vining is an instructor in training. She has been dedicated volunteer at Stockhands since fall of 2014. Bree is a lifelong animal lover and she has been involved in 4H and FFA throughout her life as a member and an advisor. Bree graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in May 2020 with a degree in zoology.

Cassandra Rodriguez

PATH Instructor

Cassandra joined Stockhands in 2015 as a certified PATH instructor. Cassandra graduated from Ohio University Southern in 2013 with her degree in Equine Studies and a concentration in Therapeutic Riding Instruction. She also holds a degree in Special Education from The Ohio State University and teaches for Columbus City Schools. Cassandra and her husband enjoy spending their free time outdoors hiking, hammocking, biking and kayaking.

Celeste Wilson

Instructor in Training

Celeste fell in love with horses from afar at a very young age. Unable to afford lessons when she was young, her and a friend offered free labor in exchange for lessons and the rest is history. Having never owned her own horse and only riding periodically she longed for any opportunity to be around them. Stockhands is her dream come true. Her working career began in the hotel business and ended with the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team. She met her husband, Mark while she was with the CBJ and they were married in Napa, California in 2003. Currently, she works at home to raising two amazing teenagers who keep them laughing and busy. They also have two cats and a dog. In November of 2017, Celeste began volunteering for Stockhands and she is proud to be a part of the amazing work they do. As an instructor in training she loves working with all of our participants, watching them grow and learn.

Chloe Lanka

PATH Instructor

Chloe began riding when she was 13 years old and competed through the Interscholastic Equestrian Association and the American Quarter Horse Association throughout high school, earning national titles. In 2014, she earned a degree in psychology from Miami University. She joined Stockhands as a volunteer in July 2016 and began assisting with lessons in 2017. In August 2018, Chloe became a PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. In addition to teaching lessons, Chloe assists with horse care and training and acts as a coordinator for the Volunteer Instructional Program. When not at the barn, she works as an accountant and enjoys baking and watching baseball.

Courtney Benton

PATH Instructor

Courtney is a graduate of Otterbein University, majoring in Early Childhood Education, with a concentration in Special Education/Intervention. Courtney also minored in Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies. She has been a PATH Instructor since 2019. Courtney grew up around horses her whole life, riding both Western and English. Ask her about her music video! Courtney has been a volunteer at Stockhands from the beginning and she loves watching our students and participants grow and learn. Helping create lesson plans to challenge them and spark their creativity is fun for both instructor and student!

Dusty Wachenschwanz

Instructor in Training

Dusty, born and raised in Millfield, Ohio, grew up showing horses at the Athens County Fair and other local shows. Graduating from Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute with Associate Degrees in Equine Science and Livestock Science, Dusty has ridden and shown horses in the Dressage, English and Western disciplines. After OSU ATI, Dusty obtained two Bachelor's Degrees: Animal Science - specialty in Animal Health, with a minor in Farm Business Management; Agricultural Extension Education, with a minor in Behavioral Psychology. After working various State and Private agricultural jobs, Dusty changed career focus and is now working as a Paramedic. Besides spending time at Stockhands volunteering with the Veteran and First Responder groups, Dusty enjoys spending free time playing with his Aussie Shepherd, Koda; competing in 3-Gun matches; and binge watching MASH and Hogans Heroes reruns.

Haley Haxton

PATH Instructor

Haley joined Stockhand’s in the Spring of 2022 upon moving back to her hometown of Columbus, OH. Haley began riding and volunteering in therapeutic lesson programs in elementary and middle school; that passion led her to complete the Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor in Training Program at Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, a therapeutic riding center at the Kentucky Horse Park. During her time in Kentucky, Haley worked as a scientist for a government contractor, supporting National Guard Operations; a position that allowed her to utilize her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. Having moved back to Central Ohio, Haley now serves as an account manager for RegattaCentral where she draws upon her passion for the sport of rowing to assist crew team operations. She is excited to be back near family, surrounded by buckeye fans and to become a part of Stockhand's team!

Michelle Lowe

Instructor in Training

Michelle began as a volunteer with a desire to turn her lifelong love of horses into an opportunity to serve her community. She joined the instructional team at Stockhands Horses for Healing in 2019 and is currently working on finishing her PATH instructor certification. She is an elementary school teacher and is the driving force behind the Read with the Horses program. When Michelle isn’t volunteering or teaching, you can find her spending time outdoors with her husband and daughter, or back at the barn riding horses with her daughter. Her dedication to the development of young riders and young readers makes her an asset to the organization.

Sara McNeil

Chemical Dependency Counselor, Equine Assisted Therapies

Sara graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Master of Science in Business Psychology. She began her career as a therapist in a local treatment center helping others on their path to recovery. As a therapist Sara uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques, Gestalt principles, meditation, and mindfulness techniques to assist her clients with maintaining sobriety and obtaining their optimal wellness. She will perform family therapy with clients who have been diagnosed with a substance use health issues. She values holistic approaches to wellness.

Sara was introduced to horses as a young child, and by 10 years old she realized she had fallen in love with horses and knew her relationship and work with horses would be life long. Her love of horses compounded with her passion for helping others drove her interest in Equine Assisted Therapy. She has been conducting Equine Assisted Therapies for over 5 years here at Stockhands.