Meet Our Facilitators


Joanie Mankus

Program Director

Joanie Mankus is a professional Gestaltist who partners with horses to support individuals going through subtle or significant life transitions. Whether an individual is experiencing challenges related to family, relationships, career, or health issues, Joanie’s professional coaching leads clients to regain a clearer sense of their wholeness, purpose, and passion for living a fully expressed life. 

As an LCSW for nearly 10 years, Joanie counseled teens, families, and adults with a variety of life narratives including marital struggles and divorce, children of dysfunctional families, teen pregnancy, addiction, and trauma. She was a member of a first response crisis team at the Columbine high school tragedy. Throughout her professional career, Joanie has experienced firsthand how neglecting the inner human condition can manifest itself in tragic and negative ways. Deep introspection and self-study led her to examine the patterns, limiting beliefs, and behaviors that prevent people from moving forward in their lives with joy. Her extensive study in the field of Gestalt has offered both her and her clients’ solutions that break the cycle and allow change to happen organically. 

Joanie is proud to serve as the Program Director of Hope Held by a Horse. She continues to serve as Director and Secretary for Hope Through Horses, an organization dedicated to providing funding for organizations and individuals committed to and involved in improving the lives of individuals and horse partners through the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method. In addition, Joanie is a part-time instructor in the Touched by a Horse Equine Gestalt Coaching Certification Program based in Elizabeth, Colorado, and founded by EGCMethod® creator Melisa Pearce. Joanie also owns her own fulfilling private practice called Authentic Strides. She holds a Masters in Social Work from St. Louis University and is a Certified Equine Gestalt Coach.

Michelle Fillios Cox, MSW, LCSW

As a licensed clinical social worker, I worked in oncology for many years, helping people to “find their way” and cope with living with cancer. What they taught me, was that by being open to giving and receiving support, they were able to access a compassion for self and the strengths needed to take whatever next step they were facing.

Although I wasn’t able to connect with horses on a regular basis until adulthood, I was aware of the call to them from an early age. Horses now have a significant place in my life – both personally and professionally. And, I have experienced and witnessed the learning, healing and growth they so willingly facilitate and that is possible through relationship with them.

I am excited to participate in the opportunity for women with breast cancer to connect and establish relationship not only with horses, but also with a community who is open to giving and receiving support. It is an honor to come along side of each individual, to hold sacred space for them, and to support them as they embark on a day of reconnection with self, discovery and healing with horses and others.

Erin Keefe-Feinner,

Reiki Master, Animal Communicator

As a Usui Reiki Master and Practitioner for people and animals, as well as an Animal Communicator, I have experienced profound joy and comfort while working with horses. In my work with the horses, I begin with the intention to assist them, but I always notice this feeling of love coming from them right back to me, a symbiotic relationship of healing.

Horses have an amazing ability to tune into us and know when we are not feeling our best, whether emotionally or physically. They truly desire to support us to be our best selves, to let go of pain and to learn how to live as they do, in the moment.

I was drawn to Hope Held by a Horse due to my work with some of the program’s horses. While witnessing a program I noticed how compassionate the horses were and how drawn they were to the participants. The horses wanted to help and intuitively knew how to help.

I perform Reiki on each horse prior to the weekend programs. During the session the horse relaxes physically and emotionally, which allows them to fully offer their gift of healing. It truly is a magical and healing experience.

Ida Ridgeway

Reiki 1

As an intuitive and ordained minister, I joined Hope Held by a Horse with my gift for energy healing. I have been in training for over two years in intuitive and energy healing development. I am passionate about horses and recognize a common bond in their ability to help people heal. I actively incorporate the three elements – energy, intuition and horses – into my work and the combination of these three fields allows me to connect on a number of different levels with those I work with.

I am also a Reiki 1 practitioner. During my undergraduate work, I rode on the Fresno State Equestrian Team, taking first place at the regional horse show. My love of nature has landed me at the base of Pikes Peak in beautiful Colorado Springs, which provides me opportunities to compete in adventure races, play volleyball and breathe fresh mountain air on trail rides.

Jacque Maben, MA, LPC, NCC, EAP

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and certified as a Gestalt Equine Psychotherapist. In addition, I have a certification in Synergetic Play Therapy. My life’s passion has always involved horses. As a young person, my days were spent with my soul horse, Hiawatha, who taught me the healing powers of being in relationship. I have spent my adult life in the helping professions of teaching and counseling, incorporating horses and other animals into my practice whenever possible. Horses have proven to me time and again that connection to self and with others is the source from which all growth and healing occurs.

As a guide, it is a privilege to be a part of this incredible organization, Hope Held by a Horse. I am honored each time I work with the resilient community of women breast cancer fighters and survivors. Not only do I get to facilitate a connection with horses, I also have the opportunity to deepen into my own authentic self and continue to learn about the power of community.

Lynn Vester, EGCM

I am a certified Equine Gestalt Coaching Method, EGCM, practitioner. I work with my equine partner and soul mate, Dusty, at Majestic Pathways in the foothills west of Loveland, Colorado. I have been supporting the Hope Held by a Horse program since early 2017. As a horse owner and a cancer survivor myself, I specialize in working with cancer patients, survivors and caregivers in their healing journey. I work with the Hope Held by a Horse team and their equine partners to bring out the keen energy sense of the horse to provide healing and guidance to women who have been touched by breast cancer.

Rebecca Frank, MA, LPC, NCC, EAP

I have had the honor of working with Hope Held by a Horse since May of 2018. I have been so grateful to be a part of such an amazing program with such a powerful vision. I love being able to work with each person that comes through the program and watch how the horses transform and touch their lives. Horses have such an amazing and beautiful way of connecting and communicating with each person that comes into contact with them. The healing that can happen in a single day because of this program is beyond words.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in Littleton and work within my private practice, Courage to Connect Counseling. I work with people who have experienced trauma throughout their lifetime, and I have the privilege to support people as they heal past their pain and move into the present and actively work toward the things they want in life. I am an animal and equine-assisted therapist and have the pleasure of working alongside my two therapy dogs, Lula and Yogi. I also get to work with my three horses: Montana, Skyy, and Shiloh. Each of my co-therapists (dogs and horses) has something unique to offer to each person, and they love being able to work with people who come to them for healing.

Courtney McCall, MA, LPC, EAP/EAL

I am a psychotherapist practicing in the Boulder, Colorado area. I graduated magna cum laude from Regis University with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and am a certified Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy/Equine-Assisted Learning Facilitator. I have additional training in EMDR, Play Therapy and Family Therapy.

I believe that healing occurs holistically, through working with the triad of mind, body and spirit. I am particularly drawn to horses because I believe that horses speak to us in the language of the heart and spirit and mirror our true selves in an honest and present manner. Horses teach us how to be in the here and now and how to expand our awareness of our environments, our hopes and our truths, and they are always willing to offer genuine and honest feedback. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my partner, riding my two rescue horses, practicing archery, singing, hiking, kayaking, making art and snuggling with my two dogs, cat and pet duck.

Women and horse touching noses

Daelyn Marie Larché-Sigman

Equine Gestalt Coach

I have a passion for spreading positivity and inspiration to others I meet in my life every day. I was an elementary school teacher for 22 years but decided to leave the profession in 2019 in order to follow my dream of helping others heal. I became a certified Equine Gestalt Coach and started my coaching business called Joyful Spirit Coaching soon after leaving the field of teaching.

When my son, Austin, was diagnosed with cancer at age 14 in 2010, I knew I had to find something to do to care for myself so that I would be a good caretaker for my young son. I learned many forms of crafting and began a small business centered around sharing products that spread joy. I became a certified Reiki Master Teacher and completed Healing Touch training at Level 3. I know that the most important piece of my journey with my son was discovering my true purpose in life- helping others heal trauma and live life in joy.

I lost my son to cancer two weeks after he turned 17 in 2013, and felt it was important to learn everything I could about my life through the experience. I later went on to earn my 200 hr certification as a therapeutic yoga instructor in order to offer others another way to find healing, peace, and happiness in their daily lives. I also studied under Dr. Amit Sood, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, to become a facilitator of his Stress Management and Resiliency Training program.

When I’m not coaching, I enjoy being with my husband and oldest son doing fun things like paddle boarding, four-wheeling in our cool Jeep, and hanging with my horses. I love animals and spend a lot of time hanging out with my dogs. I am a wanna-be mermaid and dream of one day living in a house near the beach with my horses.

You were all so warm and compassionate and gently pushed me out of my comfort zone just enough, but not too much. It was a pleasure to spend the day with all of you and your equine friends.

Jen G.


Phone: (720) 316-6178
Email :

12035 N Piney Lake Rd
Parker, CO 80138
Program Location:
Happy Dog Ranch
7811 W Titan Rd
Littleton, CO 80125

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