Sarah Armentrout

Co-Founder & Head of School,

As co-founder of Carlisle Academy, Sarah manages curriculum development and strategic oversight while also still teaching a student base of para-equestrians and recreational riders. She has been in the field of equine-assisted therapy for over 25 years and is a PATH, Intl. Advanced Riding Instructor, a PATH, Intl. Mentor, and a USEF Certified Silver Level Para-Dressage Coach. In the 1990’s Sarah worked at the National Center for Equine-Facilitated Therapy in Woodside, California under the tutelage of the late Barbara Heine, early visionary and founder of the American Hippotherapy Association. She then moved onto a management term at the Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped in Hailey, ID with husband Nick, while also acting as a working student for Connected Riding Founder, Peggy Cummings. Prior to Carlisle Academy, Sarah was the Group Team Leader of Corporate Communications at Tom’s of Maine, managing brand identity, marketing and corporate giving. Sarah currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Maine Community Foundation, is an active member of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Para-Equestrian Sports Committee, and sits on the National Advisory Council of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. Between 2016-2019, Sarah served as National Coordinator for the Veterans Paralympic Equestrian Sport Initiative through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Adaptive Sport Grant, performing the role of Curriculum Coordinator for the new USEF Para-Dressage Coach Certificate Program under Head of Coach Development Michel Assouline. Sarah graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity College in Hartford, CT with a B.A in Religion.

Nick Armentrout

Co-Founder & General Manager,

Nick has a professional background in small business and supply chain administration, sales, land and livestock management. Over the course of his career, Nick has managed four small businesses for others, and two of his own, throughout start-up phase to maturity. Prior to working for Carlisle Academy he spent 10 years sourcing and supplying raw materials for the manufacture of 100% U.S.-sourced and constructed knit-wool clothing fabrics, as well as goods certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard – “GOTS,” and Cradle to Cradle Certified ™ for the company Ramblers Way. He holds a BA in English from Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland, where he went to play lacrosse but studied Romantic Poets instead. He is University of Maine Master Gardener, and a Saltwater Institute Values-Centered Leadership graduate. Nick has spent most of his adult years engaged with animal agriculture and organic farming. Initially ranching in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, he then returned home to start Spring Creek Farm with Sarah in 1998.  Nick manages Spring Creek Farm, a mixed-power, organic horse, sheep, hay and grain farm that also serves as the host facility for Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy & Sports.  He is most happy behind his 3 draft horses getting a job done.

Irene Steltzer

Director of Finance & Human Resources,

Irene began her 33 year financial career in the advertising world after graduating from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, in the print and promotional fields. In advertising, Irene created, executed and reported the financial aspects of all promotional campaigns. After a few years, Irene moved into the manufacturing industry to learn computers, and worked as an Assistant to the CPA and Computer Manager. While raising a family, Irene volunteered in her children’s schools through fundraising efforts, helping children with computers, math, and teaching the children to run their school store. Irene returned to the working world by being an Assistant for a Controller; running a Computer Lab for an Elementary School; and finally being an Accountant for a General Contractor’s small business. From here, Irene began her own business as a Bookkeeper in 2009, and met up with Carlisle Academy in 2011 as its Finance and HR Director. 

Janet Smaldone, PT; HPCS (Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist)

Director of Integrative Therapies, PATH Registered Therapist, Certified Physiotherapist for US Equestrians Network,

Janet joined Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy and Sports as a physical therapist in 2011, is a Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist credentialed by American Hippotherapy Certification Board, and an active dressage rider. At Carlisle Academy, besides providing HPOT services to all ages, she is on the faculty for Para-Dressage Clinics. She has over 30 years of experience as a physical therapist in primarily pediatrics, in a variety of settings, including 10 years at National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy located in Woodside, California, and has also worked in adult rehabilitation. She was appointed 2018 USEF Para Dressage Team Physical Therapist and worked with the athletes in training and at the World Equestrian games that year. She is currently training to become a USEF licensed official as a classifier for Para-Equestrian Sports. In addition to being employed at Carlisle Academy, Janet works in elementary schools for SAU16 in NH, and provides consultation for Richie McFarland Children’s Services (early intervention) in NH. She is also certified in Pediatric and Baby NDT (Neurodevelopmental Treatment), and has varied training including craniosacral therapy, myofascial release, and yoga.

Rebecca Henry, MS, OTR/L, AHCB-CT

Staff Occupational Therapist

Rebecca Henry is a Certified Therapist through the American Hippotherapy Certification Board and practices occupational therapy at Carlisle Academy using hippotherapy as a treatment strategy; as well as at Southern Maine Health Care in the inpatient department. Rebecca is also Adjunct Faculty at the University of New England teaching an undergraduate course, developed by Carlisle Academy entitled: Introduction to Equine-Facilitated Therapy & Wellnessand offered within the Department of Health, Wellness, and Occupational Studies. Rebecca completed most of her undergraduate coursework at Worcester State College and transferred to The University of New England for her graduate degree. While at UNE she both competed on the Cross Country Team as well as filled the role of assistant coach for Cross Country. She maintains memberships with several professional organizations including: AOTA, MEOTA, AHA, and PATH Int.. Rebecca graduated with her Masters in the spring of 2005. As a licensed Occupational Therapist for over 15 years, Rebecca has experience working with children and adults with physical, developmental and mental health disabilities within acute care hospitals, a school for children with Autism, skilled nursing facilities, and a private clinic focused on Sensory Integration. Rebecca’s passion to help others and a long time love of horses fuel her work at Carlisle Academy.

Joyce Brown

Certified Instructor

Joyce began at Carlisle Academy in 2007 as a horse handler and instructor, holding various administrative roles as well through early 2014. She continued to volunteer as an apprentice and joins Carlisle staff again for the 2020 season as an instructor. Joyce is a PATH Int’l Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning.

A confirmed horse lover from her first Shetland pony ride at 3 years old, Joyce finally had her first “official” riding lesson in her mid-30s and has been riding and studying all things equine ever since. With all she learned through her relationship with her first horse Lady, she was inspired to develop Hands to Horses, an unmounted therapeutic horsemanship program for the experiential learning program at Sweetser which she taught for many years. Joyce studies the art of dressage and remains in awe of the gifts horses share with us in every single interaction.

Kate Goldwyn Musk

Director of Inclusive Sports, Certified Centered Riding Instructor/Pony Club Instructor,

Kate Goldwyn Musk has been a professional riding instructor, trainer and horsewoman for more than 20 years. She is certified as a Level 2 Centered Riding® Instructor, and was also certified as a CHA Instructor in 2003. She founded and developed her own farm, Strawberry Fields, where she taught hunter seat, jumping, basic dressage, recreational riding, and Centered Riding® to riders of all ages.  Kate competed from childhood in local to national level horse shows. Coached by Gary Duffy, she competed in Equitation and Junior Working Hunters, from Wellington, FL to Saratoga, NY, including the Washington International Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show and the Devon Horse Show. She has extensive experience coaching and preparing horses and riders for hunters, pony hunters, equitation, junior and adult amateur classes. Kate initiated the SUNY Cortland Equestrian Club and has also taught children and adults with special needs. It is Kate’s belief that while competition can offer fun and achievement for many riders, good horsemanship, sportsmanship and the love of the horse must always come first.

Matt Day

Veterans & Military Liaison,

Matt grew up on a small farm in Maryland with cattle and a few horses.  He was very active in 4-H, particularly in beef production and livestock judging.  He raised several state, and national grand champion steers, and also represented the state of MD at theEastern National Livestock Show in their livestock judging national championship. 

After college Matt served in the Air Force and Navy in Special Operations/Warfare capacities.  Multiple deployments throughout the world built the foundation of a great deal of pride.  Typical for so many other veterans, his service was also the basis of some physical and emotional wounds.  Through thick and thin, Matt had a great deal of support from the Veterans Administration, and from his remarkable family.  All was good, but there were still daily challenges.  

In 2017 Matt came to Carlisle Academy as a participant in a half-day clinic for veterans. He immediately knew he wanted more.  His continued participation grew into a Farm and Equine Management Internship that was funded by the Carlisle Charitable Foundation. His reconnection with horses, livestock and with the good honest work that farming demands, lent itself to an increased sense of connectedness, confidence and self-worth.  His relationship with Carlisle Academy grew, and now Matt is proud to serve as the Military and Veterans Liaison. 

Please get in touch if you are a veteran or an active or reserve member of the military, and you are looking for a place to land, either for just a visit, or for something longer term. Matt is committed to bringing more people like him here, and is confident this place might be what you are looking for.

Matthew Franklin

Equine & Facility Manager

Matt is the Equine & Facility Manager at Carlisle Academy. Born in Texas, and raised in Kentucky, Matt is a life-long horseman. For the past 20 years, he has worked on race tracks and thoroughbred breeding farms, as well as hunter jumper show barns in Lexington, KY. Matt is a certified farrier, and graduated from the Kentucky Horseshoeing School in 2013. He had the good fortune to apprentice with Peter Fanahan McGraith, a top show jumping farrier in Lexington. Matt is a U.S. Army Veteran with tours in Afghanistan, and made a recent move to Maine to work at Carlisle Academy.

Cynthia Paquette

Certified Instructor

A lifelong equestrian, Cynthia studied hunt seat from age 6 -17 with James Kennedy in Saddle River, NJ and went on to Mount Holyoke College where she rode under the tutelage of John Moffatt, a student of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Cynthia joined Carlisle as an exercise rider and horse handler. Cynthia attained her CHA Level 1 Riding Instructor Certification in 2011 and assists in Carlisle’s recreational riding program. Cynthia is also a board member of the Carlisle Charitable Foundation, which raises scholarship funds for students of Carlisle Academy’s equine-facilitated therapy and sports programs.


Instructor & Pony Club Assistant

Olivia is a life-long horse person having grown up on her family’s Hundred Acre Wood Farm in Jefferson, Maine where they hosted both Pony Club and 4-H programs. Olivia has achieved her C-3 Eventing Pony Club Certification, has taught lessons at Camp Medolark, and currently teaches recreational students at Carlisle as well as the Pony Club Horse Management Curriculum. When not teaching or training, she is busy at the University of Southern Maine pursuing an Art Education degree and performing on the track team.   

Morgan Beech

Horse Handler, Office Assistant

Morgan has had a love and bond with horses since she was born. Raised on a ranch in Montana with 6 older siblings, they showed pigs, horses, and rabbits in 4-H, while her grandmother bred and trained Norwegian fjords to be used for farming on the ranch. For the past few years she spent time on her father’s farm in North Carolina where she developed a horse training business of her own. Her father suffered a catastrophic accident, and it was the hope and healing found with the horses that helped him recover, impressing upon Morgan their therapeutic benefit. When she decided to move to Maine, she wanted to keep equine activities a part of her life and discovered Carlisle Academy, where she is now helping with farm chores, in the office, and as a horse handler.

Sarah Belanger

Horse Handler

Sarah grew up working with draft horses on her family’s farm in Maine. She is an experienced horse woman with miles of driving singles and teams. Sarah completed a Stable Management Internship at Carlisle Academy in 2016, after which time she joined the staff as a Horse Handler. Sarah continues to advance her riding skills in dressage, enjoys all aspects of horse management at Carlisle, and hopes to own her own draft horse farm in the future.

Guest Instructors:

Diana Gallant

Certified Equine Experiential Education Facilitator

Diana Gallant is a learning and performance development consultant with over 20 years’ experience analyzing workplace performance issues and developing solutions aligned with strategic business goals. She has broad industry experience across financial, automotive, transportation, healthcare, telecommunications, sales, customer service, engineering, government, higher education and non-profit organizations. A life-long horsewoman, Diana recognizes the benefits horses bring to teams and leaders in the workplace as safe, entertaining, and nonjudgmental “simulators” of common group dynamics. Her unique combination of professional and equine experience forms the basis of her team building and leadership programs. Diana earned a B.S. in Rehabilitation from the University of Maine at Farmington and an M.A. in Educational Technology from the University of Northern Colorado. She is also a certified facilitator of equine experiential education programs designed specifically for team and leader development in the workplace.

Scott Monroe

Para-Driving Coach, Level 2 PATH Driving Instructor & USEF National Combined Driving Single Horse Champion

Scott Monroe, National Combined Driving Single Horse Champion in 2005, 2006 and 2011, has represented the United States three times internationally at the USET level as well as once for Canada as a navigator. He has been honored with USEF Horse of the Year twice as well as Reserve HOTY twice and Morgan Horse of the Year with Shadow, a stunning black Morgan. Scott has more than 25 years of driving and training experience and uses many methods of Natural Horsemanship. He is an ADS “R” Combined Driving Judge, ADS “r” Technical Delegate, USEF ”r” Combined Driving Judge, USEF “r” Technical Delegate and a PATH Level 2 Therapeutic Driving Instructor. As a PATH Instructor he enjoys working with para-drivers and has a special connection with Veterans as he is a United States Marine Corps Veteran.

Deb Dean Smith

USDF Gold Medalist, Professional Dressage Instructor

Deb is a guest instructor focused on teaching able-bodied and para-dressage riders during her monthly visits to Carlisle Academy. Deb has been the trainer at Huntington Farm in Vermont since 1994. She is a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalist who has received many top placings and high score awards in USDF shows on various horses. Deb has trained many horses from youngsters through to the FEI levels. A former high level event rider, Deborah teaches many event and dressage students throughout the New England area.

Richard Watson

Grand Prix Jumper & Trainer

Richard Watson is one of the industry’s most well-regarded horse professionals. For the past 60 years, Richard has ridden and trained cutting horses, polo ponies, eventers, and now Grand Prix Jumpers. Richard lives in Alachua, Florida and travels all over the country giving clinics and lessons from walk/trot to grand prix jumping. Several of his students at the Grand Prix level have competed against the best in the business and consistently finish in the top 10. Richard specializes in helping riders at all levels develop greater feel and believes this is at the heart of promoting good horsemanship, whatever the discipline. Among Richard’s achievements is the creation of a horse bit that promises control with a lighter touch. Now owned by the Mikmar Bit Company, it can be found today in many tack shops and catalogues listed as the “Watson Snaffle”.