Meet The Staff

Marya Pecukonis M.S., NBCT (Founder, Director, Lead Instructor)

  • PATH Intl., CTRI - Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor
  • PATH Intl., ESMHL - Equine Specialist Mental Health and Learning
  • President MCET Maryland Council Equine Therapies 2015-2017
  • Family Consultant, Adult Life Planner Autism Waiver
  • Master's Degree Johns Hopkins University - Post master's Administration and Supervision
  • Special Educator Transition Specialist -Howard County Public School System
  • State chair representative for PATH International
  • Communicative Disorders- National Board-Certified Teacher - Exceptional Needs Specialist.
  • Region 2 Representative PATH International 2018-2020
  • National Credentialed Professional of the Year 2020 Path International

Teaching children and young adults with exceptional needs over the past thirty years has given me great insight and extensive experience in working with all individuals. Having a diagnosis does not define a person. Understanding the characteristics or challenges that may exist in individuals who have been diagnosed with autism, learning disabilities, speech and language disorders, ADHD, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, emotional disabilities, deaf/hard of hearing, and visual challenges is essential for designing treatment and strategic instruction. Teaching from a strengths perspective model to enhance the attributes of all learners is essential. Add the powerful motivation of the equine and watch the learning unfold!

Edward Pecukonis, MSW, Ph.D. (Licensed Mental Health Therapist)

Dr. Pecukonis has worked in private practice assisting children, adolescents and their families since 1984. He is also a tenured full Professor, at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. the He is the Co-founder of LeCheval Stable, a therapeutic/ adaptive riding and counseling center in Howard County Maryland providing Equine Assisted Services. His skills in Family Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing as well as decades of experience teaching master level courses in each of these methods are well documented. His training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from the Beck Institute in Philadelphia, PA. supports his treatment. He has extensive work with children and adolescents experiencing significant anxiety and/or depression with treatment methods based on research and empirical validation. At the same time, he understands that each family has unique needs, and that any effective intervention must meet these needs of the client and their family.

Meredith Pecukonis, CTRI, Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (PATH Instructor)

Meredith is a graduate from the University of Maryland. She was awarded PATH Registered Instructor in 2014 and CTRI, Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor in 2018. Her early history as a 4H Centaurs club leader, State of Maryland and National Horse Bowl competitor, volunteer recruiter, instructor and past member of the University of Maryland Equestrian Riding Team, have given Meredith useful equine knowledge and riding experience. Meredith is currently completing her Ph.D. at Boston University in Developmental Psychology specializing in autism.

Lisa Baker-Burford - (Guest Instructor)

We very much appreciate her talents and love seeing her as substitute and guest riding instructor.

Vanessa O’Connor, LCSW-C, CTRI, ESMHL, EAGALA certification

Vanessa started riding horses after taking a weekend job as a farm hand. She earned her Masters in Social Work at University of Maryland, Baltimore and later merged her two passions getting certified as a PATH riding instructor, equine specialist in mental health and learning, and also EAGALA certification. Vanessa has worked with adolescents, children, and their families in the Anne Arundel County school system as well as the Department of Social Services. In addition, she is certified in Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) program and has provided supervision for other clinicians, and worked with adult clients in an outpatient setting. She currently provides equine assisted psychotherapy at LeCheval Stable.


LeCheval Stable has a great cadre of volunteers who are committed to supporting participants in equine assisted learning and therapy as leaders, side walkers, mentors and peers. These amazing volunteers provide a reciprocal relationship as seen in their commitment to community learning services. Ranging from middle to high school to college careers, military service veterans, mentors, they share their talents and support the sustainability to the mission of this non profit organizaiton.

LeCheval Stable is an equestrian training site Volunteer training required to work with athletes and participate in Special Olympics state games. Contact for more info.


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