NMET STARTED WITH ONE THERAPIST,
ONE HORSE AND ONE CLIENT
Occupational Therapist Courtney Sumpter and her horse, Tank, were determined to make a difference in their small community by offering an alternative treatment utilizing a horse‘s movement to enhance therapy. With their first physician-prescribed client, Northern Michigan Equine Therapy began work out of Shadow Creek Stables in Petoskey.
Word spread quickly about NMET‘s success with occupational therapy using horses. The demand prompted Courtney to seek out a facility that could be dedicated to “Horses Healing Humans.” NMET has now evolved into a fully functioning 32-acre farm named “Winnie Acres” in honor of Courtney's grandmother.
Today, NMET provides over 1,000 therapy sessions each year with
therapy wins and treatment goals accomplished on a weekly basis.
To harness the healing power of horses to improve lives
Courtney Sumpter, M.S., OTR/L
Executive Director and Occupational Therapist
A Detroit area native, Courtney began her career with horses teaching therapeutic horseback riding lessons at the nationally recognized Cheff Center, one of the founding centers for equine assisted activities and hippotherapy. During this time, she focused on her riding and teaching skills, while finishing her Masters in Occupational Therapy at Western Michigan University.
After completing her masters, she immediately started utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment tool for her patients with Stable Possibilities, LLC of Southeast Michigan. She continued to gain horse and treatment experience with a wide variety of disabilities and ages, such as: Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, CVA/stroke, neurodevelopmental disabilities, SI (sensory integration), identifying barriers and providing services in support of mental health and many others.
Courtney is a level one therapist with the American Hippotherapy Association and a certified equine specialist with EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association). Courtney is a passionate therapist who truly believes the horse is the best therapeutic tool for most disabilities. In her spare time, Courtney loves to spend time with her family and friends and continues to improve her riding skills.
Holly Henagan, LMT
Holly grew up riding and caring for horses, as well as being of service to her community. A longtime volunteer and supporter of NMET's programs, we were thrilled when Holly signed on to be the first participant - and graduate!- of our HorseSense® training program in the spring of 2022.
Since completing her certification, Holly joined NMET as a HorseSense® program facilitator. In addition to her training under NMET founder Courtney Sumpter, Holly also holds a B.A in Exercise Science from Spring Arbor College and is a licensed massage therapist. As a seasoned personal trainer and leader of community and faith-based groups, Holly's extensive and diverse background in both the physical and mental health space inspires and enriches her equine-assisted work with the healing horses of NMET.
An avid fitness enthusiast, Holly enjoys spending time outdoors with her family in Harbor Springs and on the farm with her beloved steed, Marcus.
Jenn Lorence joined the NMET team in Spring of 2023. After starting her teaching career in the city of Detroit, Jenn returned to Wayne State University and earned her Master's Degree in Special Education (with an emphasis in individuals with Cognitive Impairment). After teaching special education to students in Kindergarten-eighth grade, Jenn joined a team at Children's Hospital of Michigan's Program for children with Traumatic Brain Injuries. In this role, she supported students ages 1 to 18 with their rehabilitation and transition back to school.
Jenn shifted back to the school setting as an assistant principal in a school in Taylor, MI. After more graduate work at Eastern Michigan University in Administration and Special Education Supervision, Jenn began supervising special education programming for 10 schools in Detroit. With a passion for social and emotional health, Jenn created training for Social Workers in over 100 schools across 9 states. She provided training to social workers and building administrators on topics such as Trauma Informed Schools, Reducing Staff & Student Anxiety, and Crisis Prevention.Jenn is now the Coordinator of Special Education with Petoskey Public Schools and is honored to be able to serve and advocate for students and families within the local community.
Jenn's love for horses developed later in life, after attending a horseback riding camp with her daughter. She began taking lessons as well and fell in love with being around horses. In December of 2020, Jenn and her husband, two kids, and two dogs moved north to Petoskey. Jenn's become an addition to the HorseSense® program and is so grateful to be a part of the NMET family.
SAVA HorseSense® Facilitator
Larissa Boyce joined the NMET team in 2021 as a SAVA HorseSense® Facilitator. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University and is a Professional Life and Mindset Coach. Larissa has worked as a Sexual Assault Advocate with Courage First, Rise, and Child USA to share her own story of abuse nationwide in order to support victims of sexual assault and promote awareness. Her story was also featured in the HBO Documentary “At the Heart of Gold.” Larissa’s testimony has helped change the sexual assault laws in Michigan as well as pass the World Wide Survivor Bill of Rights.
Larissa is EAGALA certified and has a passion for “Horses Healing Humans” as they have her. She hopes that sharing her own experience will help encourage others to know that they are not by themselves, there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that healing is a journey — one that does not have to be done alone.
Advanced HorseSense® Facilitator
A Bay City native, Laurie has never known life without horses. A third generation horsewoman, she has endowed the family passion to her two daughters and a generation of 4H kids, serving as club leader and member of the Charlevoix Emmet Horse Council for nine years. Laurie and her 4H club were also members of the US Pony Club, an international nonprofit youth organization that promotes leadership through horsemanship. The club hosted the Great Lakes Region Pony Club Games Rally in 1996.
A born educator, Laurie enjoyed 28 years as a special ed teacher with Char-Em ISD. Recognizing the extraordinary benefits horses can provide to those with special needs, she attended the Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center and volunteered as an instructor with the Exceptional Riders Program in Charlevoix for many years. Laurie was EAGALA certified in 2018 and also teaches basic riding at other local equestrian centers. As eager for learning as she is for teaching, Laurie attends clinics and workshops with professional horsemen at every opportunity.
A seasoned trail rider, Laurie rode the Michigan Shore-to-Shore in the 90s, and continues to relish the trails today with her beautiful buckskin, Gator. When not riding or teaching, Laurie loves the outdoors, dabbling in fine arts and music — playing several instruments — and time with her beloved two- and four-legged friends and family.
Courtney Sumpter, OTR/L
See Courtney’s Bio Above
Financial Advisor, Charlevoix, MI
Ruth is a life-long resident of Northern Michigan. She and her husband Dave are the owners of Mitchell St. Frameworks in downtown Petoskey, which is in its 27th year of business. In 2007, Ruth decided to pursue a new career at Edward Jones Investments, and currently manages the Boyne City office as an Edward Jones Financial Advisor.
Ruth has a long history of community involvement. She is currently President of the Boyne City Kiwanis Club and a proud founder/director of the Kiwanis Boyne City Turkey Trot. She works with Team Boyne via the Boyne City Main Street Economic Development Program. Ruth is also committed to educational growth. She has mentored high school students in the East Jordan High School Strive Program as a Rotarian, coached young athletes on the Petoskey Middle School cross country team, and Petoskey’s Girls on the Run program for several years.
In her spare time, Ruth takes full advantage of the great outdoors. She is a passionate runner and has completed 11 marathons, which included the Boston Marathon. She also enjoys road biking, mountain biking, downhill, classic or skate skiing, snowshoeing/hiking with her dog Jack, and is a new back country backpacker.
Instructional Technology Coordinator, Petoskey, MI
Erin is an educator and community health coordinator who joined NMET as the fund development coordinator in 2020. She has experience designing learning and professional development for youth and adults. She also is an experienced group facilitator and believes that intentional design can provide opportunities for greater learning, chances to get curious, and ultimately, clearer processes and innovation.
CEO & Founder, Base 10 Consultants, Petoskey, MI
Dave is a technology, business and engineering consultant specializing in process & design automation and creative technology solutions for small to mid-sized manufacturing companies. Making companies and their products, processes and people are efficient as possible is what drives Base 10's success.
In his spare time Dave enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, soaking in Northern Michigan summers on his boat and enjoying the outdoors hiking with his dog.
Megan Morrill, OTD
Doctor of Occupational Therapy - Grand Rapids, MI
Megan is a pediatric occupational therapist and has been involved with NMET since 2016. Through Megan’s time at NMET she has had many different roles including volunteer, occupational therapy intern, girls group instructor, and occupational therapy capstone student. It is safe to say Megan truly knows the ins and outs of what it takes to run NMET!
In April 2023 Megan graduated from Western Michigan University with her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy and is currently practicing as a pediatric occupational therapist in the Grand Rapids area. Megan brings to NMET a wealth of knowledge including extensive advocacy and leadership skills, expertise in hippotherapy, and 20+ years caring for and riding horses.
In her spare time Megan enjoys riding her horse Amigo, doing yoga, and completing advocacy work with the Cystinosis Research Network to promote health equity with the rare disease population.
Bank of America -St. Clair Shores, MI
Kate is based in St. Clair Shores, MI; Though she graduated from Wayne State with a Fine arts degree (and is a watercolor artist on the side) She has worked for Bank of America for the past 14 years; currently in the Retail, Preferred and Small Business Conduct space. Her expertise is in regulatory exam management, project management, and process design. She is active in her local and northern Michigan communities and has a passion for supporting leaders, business’ and community services that excel in areas she does not!
Kate is a lifelong Northern Michigan lover, having spent much of her childhood in the Gaylord area at her family cottage.
Kate, her husband (Who she met through a mutual friend & NMET Founder- Courtney Sumpter), their two elementary age boys & two dogs, spend as much time as they can outdoors, on Harsens Island & visiting the NMET farm whenever they can!
Lawyer, Grosse Pointe, MI
Alesia Dobbins is based in Detroit, MI and is an assistant general counsel at Ally Financial Inc. in the Auto Finance line of business. She advises marketing, corporate and dealer communications clients on consumer regulatory matters. Prior to joining Ally, Alesia was a judicial law clerk for the Federal Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan where she assisted Judge Steven Rhodes in presiding over the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in history, one of the highlights of her career to date. Before that, Alesia began her legal career as an associate attorney at the Bodman law firm in Detroit. Alesia received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA and graduated magna cum laude from Michigan State University School of Law.
In her free time, Alesia focuses on her family – including her husband and her elementary-age triplet boys – and enjoys skiing, boating and other outdoor activities in northern Michigan, getting to the NMET farm whenever she can!