Our Staff

Laurie Bryceland, CTRI, ESMHL – Founder/ Executive Director- Laurie is the head Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, as well as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. She holds ESMHL and CTRI certifications with PATH Intl and Natural Lifemanship Institute – Level 2. She conducts sessions of Equine Assisted Learning with a wide variety of clients and students including at risk youth, children and adults with special needs, veterans, active military families and first responders. Looking at both the neuropsychology of the horse and its human partner, she teaches the building of connected relationships using the principles of Natural Lifemanship. Laurie also teaches beginner riding skills in both English and Western disciplines as well as Horsemanship skills. She is passionate about helping her clients discover all that horses can teach us. She also enjoys being a PATH Intl approved mentor and assisting new candidates through the process of becoming certified instructors or equine specialists.

Ariana Vele, Program Director Ariana is a mother of two beautiful boys and the wife of a New York City Firefighter. She is passionate about helping First Responders and their families to find the help they need to deal with the stress and burn out many experience on the job. As a certified foster parent and mother of a special needs child, Ariana is focused on helping Victory Hill to maintain and expand their services for at-risk youth, children and youth in foster care, those that have been adopted, and children with special needs. Ariana attended Montclair State University. She is currently seeking her certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. She also has future plans to pursue her certification as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Working at Victory Hill has allowed her lifelong dream of working with horses to become a reality.

Linda Olivo, Bookkeeper – Linda began as a volunteer along with her son, Justin. Linda was inspired by her son’s passion for veteran causes to get involved with Victory Hill’s programs. She had previous experience volunteering at a nearby equine rescue and was excited to have the opportunity to work along side horses once again. After several months of volunteering, Linda stepped up to fill the role of Bookkeeper. Linda also volunteers with the Pocatello fire department in Middletown, NY as support personnel, fundraiser and parade coordinator. Her husband, David, also jumps in whenever we need an extra hand.

Dr. Teri Whynman, PT – Doctor of Physical Therapy – Certified by the American Hippotherapy Assoc. – Teri and Laurie have known each other for over 30 years. They met when they both volunteered as Emergency Medical Technicians for the South Orangetown Ambulance Corp in Rockland County, NY. Since that time, Teri has been a traveling physical therapist and has lived in N. Carolina and Alaska. Recently she returned to NY where she earned her doctorate and certification through the American Hippotherapy Association. Teri is passionate about the benefits of partnering with the horse as an effective Physical Therapy intervention to help young children reach their therapeutic goals.

Michael Soto, LMHC – Clinician – Michael is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, specializing in the areas of traumatic stress, and relationship counseling. He is the founder of BAVOY Mental Health Counseling PLLC, a professional counseling agency in Middletown NY. Having graduated from Alliance Graduate School of Counseling in Nyack NY, with a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling, he holds certifications in Critical Incident Stress Management, is a Certified Trauma Professional, a Certified Family Trauma Professional, is trained in the Gottman Method of Therapy, Heartmath and EMDR. Michael works with individuals, and couples specializing in the healing of traumatic stress injuries, and other emotional traumas.

Michael is a 10 veteran of the United States Marine Corps, started EMS in 1992 and joined the fire service in 2011. Michael also lectures discussing the topics of stress, trauma, and mental toughness. He also consults with agencies to build strong peer-support teams and trains personnel in peak performance and mental toughness, through mental performance initiatives for the first responder. His training focuses on the importance of maintaining mental health and building ongoing resiliency in this uniquely demanding profession, addressing issues such as the wear and tear on first responders and how to stay healthy from both physiological and psychological standpoints. Contact

Chris Bryceland, Barn Manager – Chris is a full time first responder in addition to managing the family farm where Victory Hill TH is located. He is quite skilled in all areas of farm and equipment maintenance and takes wonderful care of our herd and petting zoo. We could not do what we do without the many hours of hard work he puts in 7 days a week!