I am the founder and president of Bridle Paths and am a PATH Advanced Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor with nearly twenty years of experience in facilitating sessions for clients with a wide range of physical, cognitive, psychological, and emotional challenges. I am certified as an Equine Specialist through EAGALA, and am a PATH Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. I am also certified as a Masterson Method Equine Specialist. I hold a certification in Equine-Facilitated Learning from the HERD Institute, where I have recently joined the faculty. I have presented on various aspects of equine-assisted services at national, regional, and local conferences. I hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from Georgetown University and Columbia University, respectively.
Partnering with horses affords us the unique opportunity to come as we are, and be who we are, without expectations or judgments. It is my hope that everyone at Bridle Paths experiences moments of communication, connection, and trust that build authentic relationships and stronger community.
I’m a therapist in private practice in Leesburg and am a certified mental health professional through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). I came to Bridle Paths in 2015 because I was looking for an equine-assisted psychotherapy option for my clients. I quickly figured out that there was something unique happening at Bridle Paths and knew I wanted to be a part of it. My work with clients at Bridle Paths has had a deep impact on their healing and recovery. And it has done the same for me. I’m honored to get to be a part of the unfolding story of Bridle Paths.
Outside of work I enjoy all things barn related, including scooping poop! And I love going on adventures with my rescue pup, Maisie.
I grew up in FL and graduated from the University of Florida. I spent 30 years supporting the Space Shuttle program at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. During that time, I graduated with an MS in Accountancy, obtained my CPA license and became a minor partner in a CPA firm, working there part-time. I moved to Virginia after the Shuttle program ended and worked in contract finance from which I retired in July 2021.
I have loved horses all my life, but didn’t really discover them until age 60. I took my grandniece to her riding lesson, walked into the barn, and felt like I had come home.
It was here in Virginia that I truly learned the wonder of horses and the benefits they provide – more than just riding. I have my own horse and because of various physical issues, my riding instructor recommended Adaptive Riding at Bridle Paths to augment my regular riding. I was so impressed as a client with the benefits I received, I started volunteering and then later joined the Board to help promote the wonderful support that Bridle Paths provides.
Outside of horses and barn work, I am a Visitor Services/Docent at the Air and Space Museum, and active with the Arthritis Foundation. In addition to my horse, I have a rescue dog, two cats, and two chickens.
I am a Veteran of the US Navy, discharged in 1997, and am now a student at Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence RI. Up until a year ago trauma, depression, and anxiety made life for me groundless and unstable. Working with Bridle Paths and the horses who work for them has introduced awareness, balance, and body to life. The dimension of what I do as a board member expands deeply into developing connection through story. Using film, collaboration, and a lot of trust I offer pathways between the more nuanced work the horses do and the naturally human traits of meaningful brokenness. This is important because the pieces don’t have to fit back together; rather they in part possess significant value, as they reveal a more authentic whole.
In my free time I enjoy hiking, traveling through distant places like Norway, and catching up on news at a local coffee shop.
I received a Bachelors degree in Mineral Economics from The Pennsylvania State University and was commissioned in the U.S. Army immediately upon graduation. I am a decorated combat veteran who served with distinction for 20 years in heavy and light units at every level to include Battalion Command. I am both Master Parachutist and Ranger qualified. After retirement from active duty, I spent another 20 years developing a diverse business background that includes positions in strategic planning, business development and business operations. I earned my Masters degree in Administration from Central Michigan University and am a Covey Trained Facilitator (7 Habits of Highly Successful People and Principled Centered Leadership). Just to stay busy, I serve as an independent consultant.
As the eldest son of a career soldier and veteran myself, I retain a strong desire to continue to serve in areas where contribution is impactful and fulfilling. Bridle Paths provides a safe, non-judgmental environment and a compassionate staff with unique skills and clinical expertise and a deep desire to serve suffering/disassociated people of all ages and backgrounds to including veterans and their families. Bridle Paths’ mission is a perfect fit for my passion and purpose.
I met this unique organization called Bridle Paths and Katie and crew close to five years ago. Through conversation and producing hay on the property I became aware of the unique service they provide focusing on our military, their families and beyond. With an opportunity to join the board and with my organizational background, I knew there was a way I could contribute to the program.
After more than 30 years as a government contract employee working in Configuration Management (process & procedure), I retired to the idyllic village of Lucketts. My husband and I have always been involved in community service serving on the boards of our local church, the Lucketts Community Center, volunteering for the local Ruritans & local elementary school. In 1998, we co-founded the local Boy Scout troop and are still active with this youth organization to date. We have three children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Life is good, and Bridle Paths helps in so many ways to make it better for many.
Ruth Boyer O’Dea
I have known Katie since our undergraduate years at Georgetown University. It was Katie who invited me to volunteer with a therapeutic riding program in Great Falls many years ago. I remember my time with the clients and horses as highlights of my time volunteering with the program. Now with Bridle Paths, I am proud to serve as a member of the board of the program Katie has founded. I feel strongly about the program’s mission and the population it serves.
In my professional life, I am a Senior Vice President and Director of Professional Development and Operations with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. I lead my own highly successful real estate team and am an integral member of the TTR Sotheby’s leadership team. I am passionate about nurturing others, using my energies to share real estate knowledge and strategies. I am also an executive leadership coach, seeking to help others unlock their possibilities. It is here that I see the alignment with Bridle Paths – as it does the same for the population it serves.
Katie and I met because we boarded our horses at the same barn for a number of years and became friends riding together. Bridle Paths drew me as an organization because they serve the entire family, not just the service member. After multiple deployments, I can attest that they affect the entire family, not just the family member deployed and many services are offered only to the veteran. I found myself asking Katie for advice for handling the difficulties of post-deployment family life and wished that more military families knew about Bridle Paths. When the opportunity to join the board arose, I jumped at it in the hopes that I could help Bridle Paths the way Katie had helped me and my family.
I have worked in the private wealth management industry since 2003, and for the past six years have been a portfolio manager with West Financial Services. I have an MBA from Virginia Tech and a BA in Economics from William & Mary. I live in Great Falls with my husband, Mitch, who is a consultant and retired Army Major, two children, Finn the dog, and two cats. I have been an avid equestrian my entire life and own a Hanoverian mare named Waitara, who I am training for a career in dressage. I also enjoy gardening, Pilates, and barre.
I discovered Bridle Paths while joining a friend who happened to be volunteering there one weekend, and I never left! Horses have been a part of my life since I was a kid, and I’ve volunteered for a few other equine assisted learning programs, all of them wonderful, but Bridle Paths stands out as unique for its wonderful work helping those who are struggling with challenges you can’t see. I joined the board to get more involved with the other, behind the scenes aspects of the program such as marketing. I’m a working journalist at Energy Intelligence in Washington, DC, and I spend my downtime cuddling with my two cats, pretending to do yoga, and riding my off-the-track thoroughbred, Irish Whiskey.