Equuvation Inc.

Our Team

Erica de Flamand-Shugg


Founder and Executive Director, Equuvation
BFA Fine Arts in Design – University of Connecticut
PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning [ESMHL]
PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor [CTRI]
Trauma Focused EAP /
Natural Lifemanship and RhythmicRiding Certified
Stable Moments Certified
Horse Boy Method Certified
CPR, First Aid and AED Certified
Mental Health First Aid Certified
Project Learning Tree Certified


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 have never escaped her daily life.

A first generation American from Irish and Danish-born parents, Erica was raised in a culture of hygge; with a strong appreciation for simplicity, the outdoors, tea time and white space. Multiple generations within her family earned a living by designing, creating or cultivating beautifully-crafted things; a heritage that likely led her to pursue a fine art direction in college. Perhaps more importantly, they set a strong example within their communities of giving back and serving others.

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.

Upon graduation from UConn, her professional life took her in the direction of working a Designer and Creative Director in industries such as adventure travel, human resources, finance and signature event planning. In conjunction, she operated as a freelance designer and photographer, later establishing her own studio, which routinely offered reduced fee or pro-bono creative services to nonprofit organizations.

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.

A strong desire to collaborate with others presented an opportunity to launch a nonprofit that focused on advancing and supporting the equine-assisted therapy industry. Now, Erica's combined passions in both design and equine-therapy has offered her the experience to launch and cultivate Equuvation into an innovative “Think Tank” for the equine-assisted activities industry; as well as to create impactful therapeutic programs, connecting people to horses for the sake of education, wellness and healing.

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

Tracy Byrnes


Board of Directors, Equuvation
Program Director, Triple Play Farm
PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning [ESMHL]
PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor [TRI]
Trauma Focused EAP / Natural Lifemanship and RhythmicRiding
CPR, First Aid and AED Certified
Mental Health First Aid Certified

Fairleigh Dickinson University

A New Jersey native, Tracy grew up riding and caring for her own horses. Her first job as a teen led her to a role as a caretaker for a small, family-owned zoo, which further fueled her love for animals.

Years after moving to Charlotte, Tracy began volunteering with a therapeutic riding program in 2005, and earned her PATH Intl. Instructor Certification in the Spring of 2007. Her time in the arena was focused primarily on youth with special needs, including Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and other genetic or learning disorders. After spending 8 years on the therapeutic riding side of the equine therapy industry, Tracy was ready to expand her knowledge and experience toward mental health interventions.

Tracy believes in the effectiveness of equine-assisted and nature-based therapy because she feels the environment allows individuals to open up in a unique way, and that guided by the horse’s softness (and sometimes toughness), all ages are encouraged to be their genuine selves. Her favorite part of her job is observing a client’s connection with their chosen horse as it develops over time, and in turn, witnessing the changes they are able to make in their lives.

With the variety of experience that Tracy has had within the field, she is a natural fit to assisting in the growth of our organization. In addition to being an on-staff Equine Specialist, Tracy maintains a seat on the Board of Directors for Equuvation and is instrumental in guiding the direction of our programs and impact.

When Tracy is not working in the EAAT field, she is spending time with her family and two golden retrievers, Lucy and Rascal. Lucy is currently in training to become a Certified Therapy Dog. 

Kris Batchelor


BA English Literature – University of Virginia
EAGALA, OK Corral and PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist
PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor [TRI]
Trauma Focused EAP/Natural Lifemanship/Rhythmic Riding
Parelli Natural Horsemanship Level 2 graduate
CPR, First Aid and AED Certified
Mental Health First Aid Instructor
Certified HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response Canine/Handler team [with Cooper]
Certified Pet Partners Handler
Founder/Owner/Operations Director, Triple Play Farm  | 

Kris became involved with animal assisted therapy over fifteen years ago, starting with therapy dog visitation and teaching therapeutic riding to adults with traumatic brain injuries. However, the world of equine therapy as a mental health intervention compelled her to create and grow Triple Play Farm. Motivated by the fact that what a horse offers in relationship can be healing in all areas of life, Kris now maintains a herd of seven horses and a Premier Accredited facility offering equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning in Davidson, NC

Kris has seen firsthand that equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning creates a shift for clients that have felt “stuck” in more traditional therapy. Her goal at Triple Play Farm is to offer a peaceful, private environment where clients can work on goals with a supportive team and a group of animals that will always offer the unvarnished truth. Her favorite part of her job is watching clients achieve things that they didn’t imagine possible, and working with a team of colleagues who are smart, compassionate and dedicated to both the farm and the industry.

We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Kris, both for our clients as a highly experienced Equine Specialist, and also in collaboration with Triple Play Farm through the development of unique equine-assisted and nature-based programming for under-served populations.

Sarah J. Williams, LPC, NCC


Owner and Therapist, Spero Creative Counseling Center

A native of Statesville, Sarah holds a Masters/Education Specialist Degrees (MA/Ed.S) in Mental Health Counseling and is both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). She works with children, teens, and adults experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, and Autism; as well as with individuals and families whose lives have been impacted by negative and/or traumatic experiences.

The essence of Sarah's work is to facilitate self-growth by helping her clients identify the core challenges and setbacks in their lives, so that they can overcome them with confidence. She specializes in creating personalized plans and providing tools to guide her clients forward to achieve their desired goals.

As the name of her practice implies, Sarah combines evidence based psychotherapy interventions, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solutions-focused Therapy, with creative techniques including expressive arts therapy, nature-based therapy, and animal and equine assisted psychotherapy, that are proven to be effective. 

She considers herself to be eclectic in her therapeutic approach, utilizing a combination of many different theoretical underpinnings and interventions in order to create an individualized experience for each client. Most importantly, she is simply passionate about helping others, and seeing them live life to their fullest potential, experiencing genuine happiness and contentment.

Spero is an Italian word meaning "I hope" – and many have heard the Italian proverb "Dum Spiro Spero" which means "While I Breathe, I Hope."  Though the development of her practice, aptly named Spero Creative Counseling Center, Sarah believes that there is always hope, no matter where one might find oneself... that hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.

Through collaboration with Sarah and Spero Creative Counseling, we have been able to expand our programming to offer equine-assisted and nature-based pyschotherapy for clients of all ages. 

Rosie Molinary


Author, Educator
BA in African-American Studies and Urban Education Issues – Davidson College
MFA-Creative Writing – Goddard College

As a radical self-acceptance champion, Rosie uses profound questions and wholehearted connection to empower people to treat themselves well so they can connect with their talents and passions to authentically and intentionally live their purpose and help heal the world.

The author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self Acceptance (Seal Press) and Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina (Seal Press), Rosie teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, serves as a national Dove Self-Esteem Project educator, offers workshops and retreats, and speaks on self-acceptance, body image, self-care, media literacy, the Latina experience, and intentional living around the country. Rosie also serves as a creative catalyst to companies and brands that wish to provide a synergistic, empowered and soulful experience to their clients and employees as they serve the world through workshop and retreat facilitation and consultation.

A committed activist, Rosie helped found HAMMERS, a non-profit initiative to provide emergency home repair for low income families in her community, and Circle de Luz, a non-profit that radically empowers young Latinas by supporting their transformation through extensive mentoring, holistic programming and scholarship funds for further education.

When she is not busy affecting radical change, Rosie spends time white-knuckled at her son's baseball games, and at home with her family and hunky dog, Hank.

“Put quite simply, equine-assisted learning is profound. In the capable hands of an equine specialist, you are linked with magnificent equine creatures whose intuition is so astute, that through their reactions to you, you observe your own actions through a whole new lens. Each time I have witnessed or experienced equine-assisted learning or therapy, I walk away not just profoundly moved but also wiser and inspired with greater growth achieved in those simple moments with a horse in nature, than I might have been able to squeeze out in hours using other modalities.” – Rosie Molinary

Hunter H. McIntosh


Board of Directors – Equuvation
President, The Boat Company
Board Member, ClientEarth USA
Board Member, AFFTA
Board Member, Sacred Heart University
Board Member, The McIntosh Foundation

Hunter H. McIntosh is a true guardian of our natural world. Inspired by a family legacy of environmental education, philanthropy and conservation that protects our natural resources for future generations, Hunter is steadfast on working towards efforts to preserve nature and share it with others.

Where some kids dedicated themselves to baseball or football, a young Hunter committed himself to observing the annual nesting of sea turtles near his hometown of Palm Beach, Florida. His teenage and college years were full of outdoor activities and sports, including a love for horses and equestrian endeavors. As an adult, he worked side by side with his father to redefine sustainable tourism. It was not just enough to talk about preserving the environment, the McIntosh family created an intimate experience for The Boat Company guests that included education, awareness and the cultivation of passion for a special place on earth in desperate need of protection. 

Hunter is proudly carrying on the family legacy of conservation and philanthropy, with many of his endeavors focused on issues of health, conservation and education through his work as Trustee and Director of the McIntosh Foundation and as a longtime donor to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. He is also the founding supporter of the Florida State University women’s soccer program. 

When he’s not in Alaska or Washington D.C., Hunter enjoys fly fishing and exploring the world with his wife Amber and daughter, Aspen.

“Hunter's commitment to conservation and his leadership in the industry is proof of the incredible impact that one individual can have in making our planet a better place.” –Philippe Cousteau

Our Discovery Trail Team

Lisa Snyder  Ranch Manager  Read her full bio here.

Lisa Snyder
Ranch Manager
Read her full bio here.

Patricia M. Ray  Senior Ranch Care Specialist  Read her full bio here.

Patricia M. Ray
Senior Ranch Care Specialist
Read her full bio here.

Madison Simonson  Senior Ranch Care Specialist  Read her full bio here.

Madison Simonson
Senior Ranch Care Specialist
Read her full bio here.

Courtney Elledge  Animal Care Specialist  Read her full bio here.

Courtney Elledge
Animal Care Specialist
Read her full bio here.