Meet the Staff


Jane Strong, SEP, IFS Trained

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

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 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.

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 most important, how to recognize the nature of stories and 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 as contributors 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 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. I am so pleased that both government, non-government and municipal organizations are recognizing the value of this work.

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

Communications & Outreach Director
Volunteer Coordinator

Kelly’s experience spans three decades in the marketing and communications arena.  With a passion working for the greater good, she specialized in work for health, education and animal rescue nonprofit organizations.  

Kelly also brings horse experience from various modalities.  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, there was clarity in what the horses and clients had to say.  The subtle, yet powerful exchanges revealed through the Program made it clear that this is important work. 

Learning how restoring nervous system regulation through this body-based model helps heal trauma and chronic stress – from the inside out through the Facilitator Training Academy – brings new awareness and skills necessary in her communications role.

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 main focus 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.

Donna Larocque

Development Assistant
Donor Relations

With over two decades of experience in the non-profit sector, Donna brings a diverse skill set: donor relations, event coordination, database administration, financial budgeting.  She uses research and administrative insights to align donors with The Equus Effect’s mission, and believes that the right connections and relationships can inspire people who believe in causes about which they are committed to.

She served with the U.S. Coast Guard, worked with Marinette Marine, U.S, Census Bureau, and most recently she created, implemented and facilitated an award-winning Financial Independence Initiative curriculum for the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

As a veteran myself, I believe that my passion for this mission, the skills I bring to the table and my own resilience and adaptability are key to bringing success to the growth of The Equus Effect. Ultimately, I hope to make a sizable impact on the quality of life and advancement of the guardians we serve.

Patty Ganey, BA

Senior Facilitator
Facilitator Trainer

Patty grew up in a family of first responders, and now a Blue Star mother. She has witnessed the toll that their work can take on family life.

For over 20 years, Patty has been involved in the equine therapeutic industry, working in traditional mounted programs, and instructing. Then she found The Equus Effect which does not focus on ‘treatment goals’. Rather, to impart knowledge that reactions to traumatic events and chronic stress remain in the nervous system until they are metabolized and discharged. To help uncover and dissolve barriers that live on in their systems long after they return to their homes and communities.

Patty believes that proactive education leads to greater capacity to lead authentic lives. Her special interest is in assisting the families of Guardians: active duty military, first responders, medical professionals, veterans.

Also, as a competitive equestrian – experienced in eventing, dressage, fox hunting, and more, Patty brings connections and vast equine knowledge to The Equus Effect.

I knew there was something beyond the physical activity of riding at play … and then I found The Equus Effect. A sophisticated, real, subtle yet seismic curriculum which respects both participants and the horses. The horses have a lot to say, and once we learn to feel and come back to our senses, the “noise” fades away and we are left with more space in life to deal with what really matters. I am pleased to combine all of my worlds with this work, and help people find their way back home.

Donnaldson Brown, JD, RYT-500

Senior Facilitator
Facilitator Trainer

Donnaldson came to The Equus Effect as a longtime yoga and meditation instructor and a life-long rider, who knows first-hand the efficacy of body-based practices in helping to regulate a nervous system out of balance as a result of complex or situational stress and trauma. The wife of a veteran, she was eager to deepen her work with those returning home from long tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in 2015 trained with the Veterans Yoga Project to teach trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans.

Having ridden horses from the time she was eight with cowboys on a family ranch in Texas and going on to compete nationally in equitation and hunters, she has always been keenly aware of the connection between horses and humans and was thrilled to learn of The Equus Effect’s unique program of experiential learning to help bring those suffering with post-traumatic stress injuries back into relationship with themselves and their loved ones.

Donnaldson’s approach to facilitating incorporates her warmth, compassion and humor to support all participants in re-connecting with their essential selves.

The Equus Effect is a program like no other, with roots in the most current study of neurobiology and social science, it offers experiential learning that is both challenging and energizing. Watching the horses, who by virtue of their presence and honesty, support, and even accelerate, the process of restoring balance and connection into the lives of those who have given so much never ceases to humble and amaze me. I am profoundly grateful to be working with this talented and committed cohort—both equine and human!

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) 364-9985

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: