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Our Wonderful Staff!

  About T.H.E.
Debra Kaminsky
Executive Director

Debra came to T.H.E. Center as a consultant in October 2003. She was hired in January 2004 as T.H.E. Center’s 4th Executive Director. Though Debra brings her 20+ years of business experience to T.H.E. Center, she believes her love for children with disabilities and her passion and willingness to learn about horses also helps. Debra has experienced the fear and hesitation that students feel when they first get on a horse, but also the thrill and confidence when one small achievement is met (keeping your toes up and heels down!). " I feel blessed to be working with wonderful caring people and sharing with people and sharing the joy of the children and parents here at T.H.E."

Debra has lived in this valley with her husband and son for the past 8 years. She also has two older daughters and will soon be a grandmother (and I look so young!).

Sonya Haffner
NARHA Registered Instructor

Sonya Haffner first became involved with T.H.E. Center Inc. as a volunteer in the mid 80's. She worked with “T” (Teresa Wilhelm,our founder) at a convalescent hospital and when she found out “T” used horses to help people, ("2 of my favorite things") “I had to get involved. " I was one of her horse crazy teenage volunteers that initially came for the horses and fell in love with the students. I volunteered for approximately 3 years.”

Sonya has been a riding instructor since 1995 and a NARHA Registered Instructor since August 1998. She is comfortable teaching both riders with disabilities and those without. Over the years she has taught riders as young as 3 years old and up to seniors. While most of her therapeutic students have physical disabilities, Sonya has also worked with those that are mentally impaired, learning disabled, severely emotionally disturbed, sight impaired, hearing impaired, and many with multiple disabilities. " I have been blessed to instruct such a diverse group of students over the years." 

"Some of the greatest joys in my life have been being able to share my knowledge with others. I receive a huge emotional reward by being able to help people better their lives through therapeutic horseback riding. "








Kevin A. Yeckley, MA
NARHA Registered Instructor
EAGALA Instructor

Kevin began his professional career several years ago as a member of the law enforcement community. As the result of his desire for a career change, he graduated in 1999 with a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. Kevin currently is working towards his doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. 

Kevin's areas of expertise include: Autism spectrum disorders, childhood trauma and depression with a special focus on the interrelational dynamics of the family. He plans to specialize in the areas of child, adolescent and family psychology, as well as integrative psychological approaches. 

Kevin is a graduate of the 200-hour Registered Level Instructor Training Program presented by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), and is also certified as a Level 1 Instructor with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), an organization that deals primarily with mental health issues. Kevin came to us from the Shea Center in San Juan Capisrano in April 2004.



Amanda Prather
NARHA Registered Instructor

Amanda started with T.H.E. Center in 2000 as an instructor in training and then received her NARHA Registered Certification in December 2001. Prior to coming to T.H.E. Center, Amanda worked at Victory Ranch as seasonal staff member instructor for their general horsemanship camp and the Small Animal Hospital in San Jacinto. She is also an accomplished florist and musician as a member of the Mt San Jacinto Community Concert Band. Amanda has two children and just recently moved to Big Bear where she is Program Director of the YMCA Horsemanship Program. 

Sonya Pfeifer
Instructor Assistant

Sonya P. started with T.H.E. Center in 2004 as an instructional assistant. Sonya’s the first person here to get the horses ready for therapy lessons as well as coordinating the volunteers and providing her horse expertise for our Summer Horsemanship Program. 

Sonya P. has over10 years of experience with horses, worked on several horse ranches and plans to work towards her NARHA Registered Certification this year. Sonya P. also wants to pursue Equine Massage.

Sonya P. has one daughter and lives in Canyon Lake. 

I'll have a picture as soon as I can!

Joanie Guggenheim

Joanie started with T.H.E. Center in October 2002 as our Receptionist through the Office of Aging (now SER).

Joanie’s kind personality and wonderful phone etiquette provides an open door to students, parents, staff, volunteers, board members and guests who visit T.H.E. Center. Her willingness to learn new methods of office management, computer skills and her organizational skills are a blessing for the Executive Director and staff.


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