Victoria Nodiff-Netanel has been a horsewoman all her life. From pretending to be a horse as a kid in Wisconsin to painting photorealistic horses at California Institute of the Arts, from toy horses to competing in dressage at the Intermediaire level, Victoria has always known the magic of horses. In 2007, after many years of competing in dressage, Victoria shifted gears when a little horse came into her life. She realized that she wanted to help people with this miniature horse and she immediately started training Pippin, putting all her years of horsemanship to work. Sadly, Pippin passed away and Quicksilver’s Black Pearl came into her life. Pearl became Victoria’s first therapy horse. In 2008, Victoria established Mini Therapy Horses, which has grown into an incredible charity: helping over 50,00 children and adults a year with highly trained teams of handlers and miniature therapy horses.Victoria and her teams inspire children to volunteer and help others, bring joy and relief to children and families staying at Ronald McDonald House, help veterans in the Intensive Care Unit at the Veterans Hospital, and comfort survivors of traumatic events. She is so proud to be an integral part of Mayor Garcetti’s Crisis Response Team and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department with her partner Steve Sullivan. Mini Therapy Horses is available 24/7 with their teams of highly trained mini horses and handlers.
Steve Sullivan has been a horseman, horse owner, exhibitor, vaulter, and trainer during his lifetime. He devoted 10 years in the competitive horse show arena. Steve focused on vaulting (gymnastics on horseback) for the next 15 years, achieved a Gold Medal rating and was a member of an “A” level team that held a five consecutive year reign as national champions. He placed third in vaulting pairs (pas de deux) competition in the 1980 World Cup competition in Paris, France and was a member of the exhibition team at the 1984 Games of the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles before retiring from competition. Steve is a graduate of UCLA where he researched innovations in learning and memory. He has spent nearly four decades in the public safety field and teaches in the California State University system. He volunteers his time with Mini Therapy Horses in support of a number of programs including the Los Angeles City Mayor’s Crisis Response Team and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
After a movie career working in the art department, Elizabeth has been an active volunteer at LVUSD schools since her oldest son started Kindergarten. She’s held various school board positions including VP of Fundraising, Parliamentarian and Theater Arts board member. Meeting Victoria and her magical minis in 2018 was a life changing experience for Elizabeth. Working with the Mini Therapy Horses and its incredible team of volunteers has been one of her most rewarding and fulfilling experiences.
Upon graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Rochester, Kate Vadehra worked at the Mt. Hope Family Center, an early intervention program for at risk and abused children and their families. She received her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago and completed her pediatric residency and chief residency at the University of Southern California. Kate was an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center from 1997-2006. During that time, Kate was an attending in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Inpatient Unit, Pediatric Emergency Department, the Pediatric Well Baby Clinic, and site director of Reach Out and Read. Kate’s passion has always been caring for at risk and underserved children and families. Taking a leave of absence from medicine to raise her two children Kate became a very active leader in the LVUSD public schools and PFA. She served as President of the PFA at multiple schools where she oversaw both fundraising and expenditures, event planning, and site improvements. Kate is thrilled to be part of Mini Therapy Horses. Her experience of caring for sick and stressed children and families has taught her the need for these therapeutic interventions. Being able to bring joy and hope with these little horses is rewarding beyond words.
I was a television producer for 20 years on a variety of shows. During my summer hiatuses, I volunteered at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times – a camping program designed for children with cancer that builds courage, fosters hope and promotes healing. Several years ago I spent time volunteering with Create-A-Smile animal therapy group. We took dogs to various hospitals, foster homes and mental health facilities to visit with the patients. I have since moved on from television and have started studying early childhood development, focusing on children with special needs. From the two rescue dogs in our family, to the kittens I foster on their way to permanent homes, animals are my passion. I love pet therapy and am excited to help Victoria with her incredible miniature horses.
Jamie has been a nature and animal lover since she was a little girl. At 3 years old, as the youngest child at summer camp in Massachusetts, she discovered her passion for horses. While Jamie rode Western for fun, she competed in English and Dressage horse shows. In college, Jamie worked as a volunteer for the Ronald McDonald House. She helped organize fundraisers throughout the year for the children and their families receiving services from this wonderful organization. In addition, Jamie has been actively involved in fundraising and special events for the Leukemia Society. Recently, Jamie has participated in two LA Marathons and used these events as a platform to raise over $10,000.00 for Children’s Hospital LA. In the past she has been a wardrobe stylist, then started her own company designing and manufacturing women’s contemporary clothing. Holding a California Real Estate License, Jamie has been busy helping her clients buy and sell homes and with the interior design of their new homes. Jamie met Steve Sullivan, and after a brief conversation about Victoria and her Mini Therapy Horses she knew she needed to be a part of such an amazing charity. To be able to make a positive impact on the lives of others with such gifted animals and people is a dream come true!
Briana joined Mini Therapy Horses in 2018 after being introduced to the organization by LA County Sheriff and MTH volunteer, Jenn Seetoo. Always looking for opportunities to serve her community, especially when it comes to helping children, Briana knew right away she wanted to be a part of this very special team. Originally from San Diego, she now lives in Los Angeles where she is a working film/television actor. Briana attended California State University Northridge where she played Division I soccer and earned her degree in Broadcast Journalism. When she is not acting, Briana enjoys traveling with her husband, eating great food, volunteering and spending time with her family and friends.
Volunteering and animals have pretty much been the thread of Patty’s life—from raising two children and serving in just about every capacity on Parent Boards in their schools to collecting blankets and towels to deliver to animal shelters. As a relocation specialist she assisted families moving from Europe and Asia to the United States in establishing their new life and assimilating into our culture. Most recently she volunteered for eleven years as a patient/doctor liaison in the Emergency Department of a local hospital. After having competed in dressage for 10 years she now enjoys riding and camping with her current equine partner, Rocket, a Rocky Mountain gelding.
Yehuda Netanel has been a Real Estate Developer/Builder for 40 years and brings his business background and expertise to help solve logistical challenges. Yehuda also helps with fundraising for Mini Therapy Horses. Yehuda participated in the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade and is an active MTH volunteer
Tara Lyn Strong is a Canadian–American actress who has done voice work for numerous animations and video games and performed in various live-action productions. She is known for voicing Raven, My Little Pony’s Twilight Sparkle, Bubbles and 70+ more beloved animated characters. She loves supporting Mini Therapy Horses and is looking forward to being more involved in this incredible charity.
Ané Vecchione is excited to be a handler for Mini Therapy Horses, forever learning from the seasoned handlers and horse experts of Victoria’s wonderful charity. Ané believes in the power of equine assisted therapy and animal therapy. One of the most beautiful things she has ever witnessed is the interaction of a child and a miniature horse for the very first time. A child may be sick or in extreme emotional pain, but for that brief moment they leave their little body and become one with the horse. It’s a spiritual experience that is full of love and peace. There is nothing else like it. With a solid foundation in crisis intervention as a responder for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Crisis Response Team, and a trained and credentialed NACP certified Victim Advocate through National Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA), Ané utilizes her skills to assist surviving victims and children and adults in crisis on scene. In 2016, she introduced Victoria and Mini Therapy Horses to the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team while she was serving as Program Manager. She invited them to participate in a volunteer appreciation event she was hosting, and shortly after MTH joined the team and was incorporated into the CRT training academy curriculum. In addition to her volunteer work in the compassionate field of crisis intervention and advocacy, she enjoys bedazzling, and demonstrated her true love of the craft during the detailed construction of the ribbon and roses for the MTH horse tails and forelocks, for the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade. Ané’s favorite mini is a stunning dapple gray named Willow Blue, and her favorite MTH dog is the affectionate and loving King Charles Spaniel named Violet. To learn more about her day job go to www.anevecchione.com
Sophie Netanel is an actor based in NYC and a recent graduate of the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA acting program. Sophie grew up following her mom, Victoria, around horse shows (always with a book in hand) and spent a ton of time in her mom’s art studio drawing horses and other creatures. When Sophie was younger, Victoria took her to Quicksilver Ranch to visit the new-born mini-horses and she fell in love. Victoria said, ‘One day we will take one of these babies home with us.’ When Sophie went away to college at Brown University, Victoria finally brought home a mini. Over the last few years, Sophie has acquired a batch of horse sisters who bring joy and magic to thousands of people. Sophie is so proud of all that her mom has accomplished. Whenever she is home from New York, she loves to volunteer with Mini Therapy Horses.
David has been an animal lover his entire life. He devotes 6 days a week to riding and training his horses and travels often to compete in hunter/jumper horse shows around the country. His love for horses comes from his Uncle who plays Polo and his Aunt who rode on the Unites States Equestrian Team competing in Nations Cups around the world.
David first discovered Mini Therapy Horses on Instagram and contacted Victoria shortly after to inquire about volunteering. He knows first hand just how therapeutic horses are and is honored to be volunteering for a charity which he feels so passionately about. David’s ultimate dream is to have a yard full of dogs and minis just like Victoria.
Julia Vadehra is an Honors student at Calabasas High School. She started her journey in the equestrian community at age 4, when she began taking leadline lessons at the Acres farm in Moorpark. Ever since, Julia has been a committed horse lover, participating in the hunter, equitation, and most recently, the jumper ring. With her horse Posh, she rides almost every day and understands the love and therapy these animals can bring. She began volunteering with the minis in early 2018, going on numerous visits and even participating in the 2019 Rose Bowl Parade. Julia looks forward to continuing working with the minis and touching the hearts of many people.
Heidi Jensen was introduced to Mini Therapy Horses in 2018, when she met Victoria at a Westlake Rotary Club meeting where Heidi was accepting a check for her school’s business academy. She has had a huge heart for animals and service ever since she was a little girl. Her grandmother started the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Ventura County and is an inspiration to Heidi. She is currently a leader in the Camarillo business academy and plans on attending Pepperdine next year in the fall, majoring in business and focusing on nonprofit organizations. She enjoys playing club soccer in Thousand Oaks and spending time with her English Mastiff and Newfoundland. Heidi is thrilled to be Mini Horse Therapy’s intern and is excited about what the future holds!
Rocky graduated from UCLA summa cum laude and also earned her MSN at UCLA and became a certified pediatric nurse practitioner. She practiced in the Conejo Valley until her recent retirement. Rocky is a founding member of a local hiking club, which now has approximately sixty members. They meet regularly to hike the local trails in the Conejo Valley and beyond. Rocky is a Los Angeles Sheriff Department reserve deputy, and has been an active member of the Malibu Search and Rescue Team since 1990. The Malibu Search and Rescue Team is an all-volunteer team comprised of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department reserve deputy sheriffs and specialist civilian volunteers. Rocky takes the greatest joy in her family, including her five grandsons.
My name is Liam Mogan, a senior at Pepperdine University in Malibu. I have been around horses for most of my life, starting out by learning horsemanship on my dad’s friend’s horses. Over the years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with horses of various breeds and temperaments. From my own experience, there is an extraordinary therapeutic nature to horses. As soon as I saw the pamphlet for Mini Therapy Horses, I decided to reach out and apply for a volunteer position. I am honored to be a part of the team!
Chuy Alvarez has been a horseman since he was 17. He has been working with Olympic level Dressage, Jumpers and Arabians horses his entire career. Currently he is Head Groom at David Murdoch’s Ventura Farms and also starts the 3 year old Arabians under saddle. Chuy has known Victoria as a dedicated horsewoman since 1995 and was excited to join in volunteering with Mini Therapy Horses. Chuy was proud to walk Stormy Blue in the 2018 and 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade.
Lauryn Hill has always held a huge space in her heart for horses. As a child her family had a pony named Comanche and her favorite subject to draw were horses. She grew up in the Napa Valley where she raised sheep in 4H and went on to study Illustration from California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco. Moving back to Napa after receiving her Bachelors of Fine Arts, she worked as a fine art consultant for 6 years at Aerena Galleries and Gardens. She now lives in Los Angeles working for TASCHEN Publishing as the West Coast Sales Representative. She is devoted to living a wholehearted existence and sharing the message of compassion and joy with all.
Pam Cameron is a serial entrepreneur, having owned and operated an indepenvnt commercial/ residential design firm for 25 years and a retail design store for five years. She is a former Editor in McGraw-Hill’s architectural division, and holds a BA in Broadcast Journalism from Pepperdine University. Pam is also a board member of Hearts for Hope, a CASA advocate, and a member of ISID and LACMA Arts Council. She cares for ELSA’s equine staff, Riley, Chase and Oreo.
Deborah has been a volunteer for Mini Therapy Horses for the past three years and is currently the president of Roth and Associates Brokerage Company since 2008. Deborah has also volunteered with Elsa, Inc., which works with horses and young adults with special needs, and for the past 13 years she coordinated all volunteers for the Day of Service at the Self Realization Fellowship. Deborah is a horse enthusiast with two Arabian horses of her own. She designed and developed the Freedom Belt, which she is now marketing to the equestrian community. Her dedication and experience brought her to join the board for Mini Therapy Horses.
I like helping kids because my brother has autism and I have a lot of experience helping him. This makes me want to help other kids. I know what it’s like to feel compassionate for someone that has a disability. I like to help with the therapy horses and go to places where kids need a laugh or a smile, and that is my reward.
Horses have been in Megan’s life since she was born and the equestrian gene has been passed down several generations to her. She is currently working towards her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University in order to use horses in therapy. She has seen how powerful horses can be in connecting with people who need it the most and wishes to dedicate her life to help ‘forgotten’ populations. Every day, she looks forward to spending time with her horse, Dino.
Danielle Palmieri is a registered nurse at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where she has worked for 15 years on the Perinatal Unit. In addition to caring for critically ill moms and babies, she also devotes her time to helping others through her love of animals. Danielle has been a devoted volunteer with UCLA’s People Animal Connection for the past 11 years with her therapy dog Gracie, who weighing only two and a half pounds, was the light of not only her life but so many others. It was through Gracie and the PAC program that Danielle had the opportunity to meet Victoria and Blue Moon. She instantaneously knew that she needed to become a volunteer with the Mini Therapy Horse team. Danielle grew up with a menagerie of animals, including horses, which she began riding at the age of two. She went on to compete in show jumping in both the hunter and jumper rings for 20 years. Danielle is most fulfilled when her two passions collide, helping people and saving animals. Spending time in Africa with the non-profit Medicine for Humanity was one of her favorite experiences. Besides being a nurse, Danielle is also a former vet tech and an avid animal rescuer, you name it and she’ll save it. As a vegan, she has a reverence for all life and firmly believes that through compassion and education we can open people’s hearts and change the world.