Meet the Staff


Jane Strong, SEP, IFS Trained

Executive Director
Co-founder, Lead Facilitator
Eponaquest Equine Experiential Learning Instructor
Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner
IFS Trained
Certified Enneagram Teacher

Jane began her relationship with horses as a competitive rider. When she left the world of traditional horsemanship behind, she never thought that horses would become an integral part of her life again. It was not until she rode a friend’s horse on miles of trails in Westchester County, NY that she realized there was something about this connection that reached far beyond competing for ribbons. She also began to study the principles and practices of natural horsemanship and it became clear to her that engagement with horses through finesse rather than force could have a tremendous impact on our ability to manage our physical, emotional and mental energy in ways that no other form of experiential learning could do. She was able to understand what horses had to teach us about how we come across to others, staying present while connected to another sentient being and how to recognize the nature of our triggers that take us out of the moment. The ability to recognize that in ourselves and acquire tools to ‘come back on line’ are some of the most important and impactful aspects of building authentic relationships with others.

She is an accredited Experiential Learning with Horses Instructor who graduated from the Eponaquest Program in Tucson, AZ in 2005 and became a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner ® in 2015 and completed her Level I IFS training in 2017.

Prior to returning to a life centered around working with horses, she was a professional coach and facilitator who has taught leaders and individuals how to ‘take back the reins’ in their own lives. She’s coached young people and adults through transitions from school to careers, recovery to sobriety, burnout, compassion fatigue and transitions at home and work.

In 2009, she and David Sonatore, LCSW learned about the rising suicide rate among veterans and decided to focus their attention on this group of men and women who were often resistant to talk therapy and whose symptoms were often only masked by medication. They based their program on what they had learned at Eponaquest Program, Somatic Experiencing® and work with Buck Brannaman, whose approach to horsemanship fits perfectly with the healthy, authentic relationship tools they teach at The Equus Effect.

Jane is a Certified Enneagram Teacher, has studied with the Coaches Training Institute, the Center for Authentic Leadership and the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.

Since The Equus Effect’s inception in 2012, Jane and David have broadened the reach of this work to include law enforcement, firefighters, frontline health workers and people in recovery from substance abuse. To date, they have seen over 2,500 men and women who understand the value of this type of empowering work that helps build capacity for healthy, authentic relationships.

In response to the success and advocacy from clinicians and veterans themselves, the VA and a team of clinicians and analysts at Yale have just completed a pilot study of this curriculum among a trans-diagnostic sample of veterans and results will be published in the fall of 2023.

I've worked in this way with horses contributing to the conversation around the right use of power and intention for the past 20 years. Because horses engage all of our senses and ask us to be as present as they are, they invite all of us to discover new ways of seeing ourselves in relation to others. This work is both serious and fun, energizing and relaxing, easy to understand and deeply meaningful. It is both profound and practical.

By teaching us to stay present in the face of dynamic change, horses can help us develop our capacity to navigate transitions from one phase of life to another faster than any other mode of experiential learning or treatment I know. They invite the deepest, most honorable and authentic parts of ourselves to come forward and meet life on life's terms.

I am so pleased that both government and non-government and municipalities are beginning to recognize the value of this work as well.

David Sonatore, SEP, LCSW

Program Director
Co-founder, Lead Facilitator
Eponaquest Equine Experiential Learning Instructor

Somatic Experiencing® Advanced Training Graduate
Certified Martha Beck Coach

David is a certified Experiential Learning with Horses Instructor. He also graduated from the Eponaquest Program in Tucson, AZ in 2005. He brings his inherent gifts of compassion, curiosity and intuition to this work and has an uncanny sense of identifying the human concerns that lie beneath the surface.

In his unique, gentle way, David is able to help veterans and others we work with learn how to make sense out of feelings and discover new ways of seeing through old patterns so that they can move from surviving to thriving.

He’s also a therapist with a private practice in NYC and Bedford, NY and is a certified Dr. Martha Beck Life Coach (frequent guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show and O Magazine columnist). David developed his clinical skills by working with inmates in the New York State Correctional system and outpatient clients at the psychiatric clinic of St. Vincent’s Hospital in NYC. David has also completed his final year of study at the Somatic Experiencing Training Institute where he is honing his skills as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.

David’s father served in World War II, so he also has a deep understanding of the impact that military service can have on relationships at home, work and school.

Inviting clients out of traditional settings and into this remarkably unique and natural environment expedites trust, creativity and freedom. People can explore their own true nature and discover their own best solutions more quickly and with meaningful results.

Kelly Hitt

Director of Communications & Outreach
Volunteer Coordinator

Kelly’s experience spans two decades in the marketing and communications categories.  As Creative Director within various design agencies, she has managed large teams of professionals and mentored many young staff members.  


With a passion for the greater good, she has always gravitated toward work with nonprofit clients.  And, pro bono consulting, advisory boards, and hands-on volunteering for therapeutic riding and animal rescue organizations are a consistent part of her schedule.



Kelly brings experience from a lifetime with horses from various areas and disciplines.  There came a time, during her avocation as an adult amateur dressage rider, showing her own as well as her trainers’ horses, she witnessed the emotional and physical challenges that the horses faced.  A culmination of events brought her attention back to natural horsemanship — then when introduced to The Equus Effect, things became clear in listening to what the horses and clients had to say.  The subtle, yet powerful exchanges give insight into what these amazing horses have to teach us.  Learning from the ground up about their’ behavior is a life-changing experience.

In working with Jane & David, founders of The Equus Effect Program, my goal is to leverage my knowledge and connections to bring the organization's work into the mainstream of Equine Assisted Services. And in training more facilitators, reaching across the US and beyond, we will bring the level of awareness further into the public eye — so as to impact more people’s lives to a degree that will make a significant difference in our society.

Veteran Mentors

Angel, Mike, Kathy, Stacia and Diane

Are you interested in helping us?


The Equus Effect® is a registered 501(c)(3) corporation. All contributions are 100% tax deductible. 



Navigation apps do not work to our street address!!!

PLEASE SET GPS to Sharon Town Beach, Mudge Pond Rd., Sharon, CT. 

Drum Road is a Y-intersection directly across from entrance to the beach. 

The facility is about 3/4 mile on the left.

Park in front of the red barn on the left or on the far side of the red cottage on the left.

NOTE: Please do not park or turn around in driveways on the right side of the road.

Call or text (203) 613-1107.

The Equus Effect

37 Drum Road, Sharon, CT 06069

Main Office  (860) 364-5363

Jane Strong, SEP, IFS Trained 
Executive Director
Co-founder, Lead Facilitator
(860) 364-9985

David Sonatore, LCSW  
Program Director
Co-founder, Lead Facilitator
(347) 439-1777

Kelly Hitt  
Communications Director
Outreach Coordinator
(203) 613-1107

For general information: