Equine Collaborative International, Inc.
Board of Directors
Lori Shank, President email@example.com
Barbara Moore, Vice President firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary McNall, Treasurer email@example.com
JoAnne Bonsack, Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara Coyote email@example.com
Christine Gierlinger firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Hall email@example.com
Phyllis Jensen, Membership Chair firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Szarek email@example.com
Meet our 2022 Board
Born and raised in Niagara Falls, NY, JoAnne’s love of horses started, like many little girls, with the reading of Misty of Chincoteague Island. Her first experience on a horse was when she was 12; a neighbor took a bunch of kids to a local hack barn to ride… and so the addiction so began.
Moving to Buffalo, she attended Buffalo State College and joined the Equestrian Club, taking lessons at the Buffalo Saddle and Bridle Club in the heart of Buffalo, and was lucky enough to have been taught by Mrs. Alexander, one of the original directors, for a couple of lessons.
From there, JoAnne took riding lessons over the next decade, from a variety of instructors and bought, along with her cousin, a 3 year-old Morgan from the old Ranch in Colden, NY. Little did she know that gelding, BNR Major Motion was royally bred, whose father and grandfather were both national Park champions.
JoAnne went on to compete in English Pleasure for 12 years, them competitive trail riding. JoAnne obtained her CHA (Certified Horsemen’s Association) certificate to teach riding and taught for a year at her home. She also taught riding for a summer at the Girl Scout’s Camp Seven Hills, in Holland, NY.
When Major aged out, she began again riding her husband’s grade quarter horse, Ebony, who she retired at age 32, still sound and can still out pace most horses in the pack. She currently rides an Amish retread – a former buggy horse, whose bad feet were healed after a year off. This horse has some of the same bloodlines as her first Morgan (government bred), and according to JoAnne, has the get up and go of a freight train.
JoAnne, lives in beautiful Boston, NY on a small farm with million dollar views, with her two horses, a Shetland pony named Midnight, barn cat Noelle, and two senior dogs, Sky and Shamus, both formerly therapy dogs. Her husband of 33 years, passed in 2021.
Tara is the owner of a horse retreat center, Wind Horse Sanctuary in Kaua’i, Hawaii, which was formally located in Northern CA. She is a certified Equine Facilitated Learning teacher and a life coach. Over the years, she has guided hundreds of people with private sessions, group workshops and ‘Grief Rituals with Horses’.
Tara’s memoir ‘Grace, Grit & Gratitude: A Cancer Thriver’s Journey from Hospice to Full Recovery with the Healing Power of Horses’ is a #1 bestseller on Amazon in eight different categories! Her book is about overcoming adversity, a deep dive into the challenges that come from loss, her own harrowing health journey and how her horses have played a significant role in her miraculous healing with cancer.
She recently published a bestselling children’s book ‘Comanche the Wild Mustang’ and ‘Comanche the Wild Mustang’ coloring book, which highlights the healing power of horses and spreads awareness about the dire situation of wild horses in North America.
She happily lives in Kaua’i with her two horses: Comanche, the mustang, Blue the paint horse, Xaria, the Australian Shepherd and one cat. She believes it is always possible to find beauty within the greatest tragedy and that every challenge is present to serve us for our highest growth!
Phyllis has been involved with horses her whole life. Her uncle was a trainer, owner and driver of Standardbred racehorses and as soon as Phyllis was old enough, she started working with him, between the two of them they worked with up to twenty four horses at a time. She remained on the farm for about fifteen years then went on to work at several different jobs, but the horses were always in her life.
At eight years old she finally pestered her uncle enough and he put her up on old Thunder and said ride. The horse knew more than the girl and refused to move. Despite the poor start to her riding career, she ended up with first a pony and then her uncle gave her Red Treasure when he retired from racing. What a thrill to ride that beautiful animal. Through the years Phyllis has had several horses and participated in trail, camping and showing.
She is proud to be serving as the President of ECI for the past two years and looks forward to continuing being active in the organization.
Mary & Jim have owned & operated “Trilogy Farm, Horsepower & More!”, for over 30 years, while raising 4 boys, Alex, Sean, Brendan & Gannon, who all took part in running the farm. The focus was on raising & training horses & ponies to ride & drive & working with clients & their horses in for training.
Currently, with Gannon, they board, give lessons & are raising & training Mediterranean Miniature Donkeys for show, pleasure & therapy. They offer “Mane Encounters” Equine Assisted Therapy for Veterans & others, using horses & mini donkeys as partners in the program. Sean is also certified for this program. For more info: www.trilogyfarmhorsepower.com
Mary has recently patented the new “No Falter Donkey Halter” & “Handy Horse Halter” marketed as M & M Halters LLC. Try them: haltering is “a Snap!” That website is: www.mnmhalters.com
Being raised in a country town in western New York State gave Barbara early exposure to and love of animals. A pony named Stardust came into her life when she was 9 years old and became her partner and teacher. Stardust was purchased from and boarded at a Standardbred breeding and training farm which was owned and run by an extraordinary horseman with an abundance of patience and willingness to share knowledge, answer questions and tolerate an interested 9 year old being in his way at any given moment. He freely and openly gave her all she needed to survive in the business of horses.
Involvement in 4-H and college all centered around developing a career related to horses. Following college graduation teaching all the equine academics at a small college in central New York State while running a boarding farm increased her desire to move around the Country a bit but stay in the horse business. A winter where the temperature never went above freezing for 6 weeks, and for 3 of those weeks, it remained below 0 degrees convinced her to get a move in the works and educated her in treating frostbite!
New York State to Louisiana and Thoroughbred breeding farms in that State provided a continuation of education in horsemanship of all kinds. Other stops along the way included Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Delaware (that is a story), and back to Kentucky before returning to New York.
A non-profit’s request that she last minute pinch hit for an announcer that had to cancel brought her in contact with the business of horses in a different way. Horsewoman of the Year from that organization was followed by a County Friend of 4-H award and a chance to help change and grow a major equine event that was waning.
As a founding member of ECI, Barbara sees limitless possibilities and has been rightfully accused more than once of having a major case of “busy brain”. Having lived in different parts of the Country she recognizes the value of sharing information and makes sure that our webinars and publications express the diversity that defines involvement with horses. In both the business and the pleasure ends of the horse business there is always something to be shared.
In the words of her early mentor, “You will never meet a horseman that you can’t learn something from; it may be as simple as- I don’t want to do it that way!”
Dr. Lori Shank is a life-long horse enthusiast, and proud to be serving as a board member for ECI. For the past 11 years she has been the owner and solo practitioner at the Fort Meade Animal Clinic in Fort Meade, Florida. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ross University, in 2005 after completing her clinical year at Oklahoma State University. She started her vet career at the Orchard Park Animal Hospital then the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital before relocating to Florida in 2007 to work at the Lake Wales Veterinary Hospital prior to purchasing her own practice.
While in Western New York, she spent over 15 years as a respiratory therapist, most of that time at Buffalo General hospital. She was accepted into the very competitive physician assistant program at Daemen College before switching to veterinary medicine. She was the first female firefighter of the Franklinville Volunteer Fire Department, of which she later served as secretary.
She lived on a small horse farm in the Boston hills, and now resides on a 16-acre ranch in central Florida along with her husband Brian, five horses (Tony, Buckshot, Dixie, LaBamba and Sunday), six cattle, five cats, four pigs and two dogs. She enjoys trail riding, horse camping, agility with her dog Sheldon, and reading. She is a past member of Lou Eibl Corral in western New York and a current member of the Florida sport horse group in Central Florida.
She is also an independent distributor for BEMER USA, a USDA approved Pulse Electromagnetic Field medical and wellness device designed for both horses and humans which is improving lives and performance worldwide.
Mary Sullivan Szarek
Mary, a ‘city girl,’ grew up in Buffalo, NY where horses are pretty scarce. Loving horses as far back as she can remember, she rode any chance she got, and was involved in the horse community even before she had her own horse. Since acquiring her first horse over 20 years ago she's participated in trail rides, clinics and shows and has been involved in several equine organizations, from local to state to international, where she’s held various board and committee positions. In 2011 she was named New York State Horse Coluncil’s “Horseperson of the Year” and 5 years later was elected Regional Director. Mary is one of the founding members of ECI and currently serves on its Board.
Early in her involvement with the Horse Council Mary was outspoken about the lack of local equine expo-type event which included ‘actual live horses’ and she was instrumental in developing the highly successful WNYEquiFest where she played an integral role for 8 years.
One of her favorite memories is a fun show where she (the only English rider) and her OTTB won the Barrel Race - beating all the other Western competitors!
She blogs as The Old Grey Mare at 'Tales of a City Horsewoman', where she recounts the challenges of living in the city while her horse lives far away in the country as well as other adventures and thoughts.
She also curates the resource site wnyHorse.info.