Thanks to the wonderful staff, Brook Hill Farm is able to provide rehabilitation focused services and safe haven for unwanted horses, while maintaining a unique opportunity for personal growth and equine education for area youth and adults.
Jo Anne Miller Executive Director
In 1991, Jo Anne Miller and her family bought a farm in Bedford County. They needed to add some grazing animals to the property in order to be taxed as a farm. Over dinner one evening, Jo’s veterinarian introduced the idea of taking on lame horses for rehabilitation and sanctuary. “What, take in lame horses, are you crazy?” Jo exclaimed, incredulously. Yet two years later, Brook Hill Retirement Center for Horses was officially founded. Her vet, and eventually she herself, recognized the need of the thousands of lame horses desperate for a place to recover. With her background in corporate management and dealing with lameness issues, Jo Anne and her vet established the rehabilitation and educational programs leading to the farm’s success.
During Brook Hill’s early years Jo Anne was amazed at how these rescue horses healed with the help of staff, volunteers and youth. The horses were able to go on and lead productive lives, and the children involved grew into strong, confident, caring adults. Combining rescue and therapeutic riding created a win-win situation for both horses and people. In 2011, Jo Anne joined with PATH International and became a Registered Riding Instructor and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, allowing Brook Hill to grow its educational and therapeutic programs. Jo Anne has spoken at many national and international industry conferences and provided webinars in both Equine Welfare and Equine Assisted Therapies. She has spoken at the Homes for Horses Coalition Conference, and has presented her research at the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations conference, the Horses in Therapy and Education in Dublin, Ireland, and at PATH International regional and international conferences. She has also served on many national committees, including the Equine Welfare Committee for PATH International, serves on the Virginia Horse Industry Board, the EQUUS committee for equine welfare, and co-founded the Virginia Alliance for Equine Rescue Organizations. Today, in keeping with the farm’s mission of education, Jo Anne is an adjunct professor of equine science at Randolph College, serves on the Virginia Tech Equine Education Advisory Board, and the Virginia Horse Central District Horse Council. In her spare time she coaches the Brook Hill Farm show jumping team!
Growing up on a farm, Tracy is a natural fit for the Assistant Director. A horse enthusiast with a BA in business administration, Tracy has been an important part of this organization since its beginning. She is in charge of the day to day operation of the farm, facilitating the Rockin’ Riders program, maintaining the website, creating databases, and assisting the staff where needed. She has her certification from PATH International as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, and helps Brook Hill by handling the administration work for the Brook Hill Farm 4-H Horse and Pony Club and is a Center Administrator for the Brook Hill United States Pony Club Center. She has spoken at the regional PATH conference and serves on the board of the Central District Horse Council. The staff could not function without her!
Tracy Russler Assistant Director
Anna Baucum Supervisor
Anna comes to Brook Hill from Alabama and started working with horses early in her childhood. She worked at another stable prior to joining our staff, and has a retired mare who lives back in her home state. Anna earned her degree in Psychology with a focus in counseling, and serves as Brook Hill Farm’s youth support during their riding lessons and in the classroom. She also works closely with the veterinarian and is in charge of all medical treatments at the farm. None of us could do our jobs without this wonderful asset to our staff, as we rely on her in so many places!
Jane Burks Licensed Counselor
Jane joins our staff as our licensed counselor. Retired from Bedford County Schools, and a past adjunct professor at Liberty University, she works with our youth in the United Neigh program, the pandemic POD School and with our participants in our Gaits for Change program.
Gayann Sperrazza Educator
Originally from New York, Gayann is a licensed educator with a Masters in Special Education, and is retired from Bedford County School System. She has been helping the farm since 2019, and now is part of our Schooling with Horses staff!
Maria joined the Brook Hill Family in order to care for the horses and the barn. She is a member of TRAV and PATH International. She is actively working toward her PATH certification as a Traditional Riding Instructor in order to help with the youth in the Rockin’ Riders program. Because of her hard work and dedication, Brook Hill’s horses are well fed and cared for, allowing Brook Hill to be fully accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
Veronika joined Brook Hill as a volunteer through the Bonner program at the University of Lynchburg. With a BS in Exercise Physiology, she is a perfect fit with our Rockin’ Riders program. She currently serves on the PATH International diversity committee and is a member of Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia. She is currently completing her PATH certification as a Certified Traditional Therapeutic Riding Instructor certification.
Jordan has joined our staff to help in the barn taking care of the herd. She is currently attending Post University online and working on her Bachelors in Equine Studies degree.
Dr. Martha Moses Veterinarian
Dr. Moses has been a valuable part of the team since its inception. A graduate of Virginia Tech, she brings her veterinary, acupuncture and chiropractic skills to help in healing the horses. We all have wonderful memories of Charlie, Martha’s canine companion.
Richard Nunnaly Farrier
Richard joins the team bringing consistent, quality hoof care to the horses. He is a graduate of the Eastern School of Farriery, and he did his internship with the best – Bud Caudy. He started his own business in 1994, and has been a reputable farrier in the Lynchburg area ever since.
Shawn Thacker Equine Dentist
Shawn joins Brook Hill Farm with his dental expertise. He completed his training at the American School of Equine Dentistry in Purcellville, Virginia. He is both a dentist and a farrier, and is a valuable part of the team.
Jay Miller Farm Support
With his wife in charge of the program, it naturally has become Jay’s job to look after the property and fields. He also assists in the general care of the horses. We cannot thank him enough for helping with all of the work that he does during his retirement!
Dr. Ronald Fessler Retired Veterinarian
Doctor Fessler is one of the main reasons for the success of Brook Hill Farm’s rehabilitation program. He is a graduate from Iowa State and has been a part of Brook Hill Farm from the beginning. He is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the Virginia Association of Equine Practitioners. In 2018, he was awarded the top AAEP/Merck Animal Health Award in recognition of his involvement with the unwanted horse, a program that has been in existence over fifteen years. Every horse that has come through the program owes their recovery to the brilliance of this man!
We have so many other dedicated volunteers that help us every day. A special thank you to these individuals for helping make Brook Hill run smoothly!
In Memory of Bud Caudy
Bud Caudy was a part of Brook Hill Farm since its inception. Bud completed his training at the Oklahoma Farriers College and had been a farrier for over 35 years. He was a member of the American Farriers Association and the Brotherhood of Farriers. The old saying no-hoof no-horse rings true – but with Bud on our staff, even the worst case foot scenarios would improve! Our horses and staff miss him terribly!