Athelas Therapeutic Riding, Inc. is a 501 c(3) non-profit agency located at Northfield Farms in Otsego County, in scenic upstate New York. Athelas offers various equine assisted activities to individuals with physical, mental and emotional challenges in a caring, relaxed atmosphere.

Athelas provides opportunities for people with varying ability levels to challenge themselves physically and emotionally and to set goals to improve their quality of life through activities with horses.

Athelas Therapeutic Riding Inc. operates under the direction of Program Manager and Lead Instructor Anneliese Gilchrest, (BA, Therapeutic Horsemanship, St. Andrews Presbyterian College). All lessons are conducted by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) certified instructors or instructors in training, a team of dedicated volunteers, and using horses selected for their dispositions and training to accommodate the special needs of our clients.

See Path International for more information

Our therapeutic riding instructors design lessons that foster responsibility and independence, build self-esteem and teamwork, improve social skills, eye-hand coordination, balance, muscle tone, posture, speech, communication, physical strength, horsemanship skills, and relieve stress and anxiety.

Board Memebers

Jocelyn Mash, President

Tish Roach, Vice President

Elaine Poulin, Secretary

Abby Costello, Treasurer

Tiffany Perillo

Catherine Livsey

Grace Larkin

Anneliese Gilchrest

Anneliese Gilchrest - Executive Director, Program Manager and Lead Instructor

Anneliese Gilchrest was born in Upstate NY and has been surrounded by horses since she was a little girl. In High-school Anneliese was showing at A rated shows and breaking and training young horses professionally. Her senior year she taught her first summer camp to special needs children from a local community home. In 2004 Anneliese graduated from St. Andrews University in NC with a BA in Therapeutic Horsemanship and became a PATH Certified Instructor. At St. Andrews Anneliese competed on the University's IDA team.

In 2007 Anneliese started Athelas Therapeutic Riding, a therapeutic riding program and Northfield Farm LLC, a lesson, boarding and training farm. After Athelas' incorporation in 2009 Anneliese stayed on as head instructor and program manager and continues to host Athelas at Northfield Farm LLC. Anneliese has since mentored several new instructors through their PATH Certification and enjoys sharing her passion for people and horses with new Athelas instructors.

Over the years Northfield Farm LLC has been home to many local riders/boarders as well as an IEA team. The farm hosts many clinics and horse shows and Anneliese has recently started a new warmblood breeding program. Anneliese continues to compete in Dressage on her home-bred Oldenburg mare, Rubinstein's Farewell as well as her Oldenburg gelding, Mozambique. She also enjoys coaching her daughter and other students at horse shows. During her free time Anneliese enjoys spending time with her husband and their four children.

Cheryl Parisian

Cheryl Parisian - Instructor

Cheryl Parisian was born and raised in Otego, NY and has always had a passion for horses. She began taking horseback riding lessons at the age of 11 and soon after began competing with her quarter horse gelding in the local show circuit. Cheryl's background in hunter/jumpers has grown through her many years of competitive showing throughout the region. After graduating high school from Unatego Central School, she attended her first year of college at SUNY Oswego where she realized another passion was with Psychology. Cheryl's dream has always been to combine horses and psychology to help better the lives of others the way horses had done for her. With every horse Cheryl rides she focuses on listening to what they are trying to say in order to gain a greater relationship with each individual horse.

Cheryl transferred to SUNY Oneonta for her sophomore year of college and graduated in December 2013 with a B.S. degree in Psychology. During her time at SUNY Oneonta, Cheryl began a work study job at the Career Development Center. Thanks to her supervisor, she was offered a work study job transfer to a local therapeutic riding facility, Athelas Therapeutic Riding Inc. Cheryl took the work study job and then continued on to complete two internships at Athelas under the mentorship of Anneliese Gilchrest. She worked hard to complete her PATH International certification to become a certified instructor and passed her certification in December of 2014. Cheryl has since continued teaching with Athelas.

Aside from teaching for Athelas, Cheryl also teaches horseback riding lessons for Northfield Farm LLC and assists in the training of different horses/clientele with Anneliese. She is also the Barn Manager for Northfield Farm LLC and enjoys spending the majority of her time with all of the horses.

Since starting at Northfield, Cheryl has continued to expand her riding and has recently started training in dressage. Within the last year, Cheryl has purchased a horse of her own. Adorning Autumn, "Addy", is a young thoroughbred and with Addy, Cheryl plans to continue her training in dressage which is new to both of them. They also plan to continue with jumpers and hope to be back competing in the jumping ring soon.

Abby Costello

Abby Costello - Volunteer Coordinator

Hi, I'm Abby Costello the volunteer coordinator for Athelas Therapeutic Riding. I grew up taking riding lessons and participating locally at Chensego Hunter shows, but took a long hiatus from horses while I went to college and started my career. A few years ago I realized how much I missed it, and in 2016 found Athelas. I've always enjoyed working with and taking care of the horses over riding them, so I knew I'd love that aspect of Athelas. I also selfishly thought that participating in Athelas would help my career as a teacher since I felt I lacked knowledge in working with special needs populations. However, as much as I came to Athelas for selfish reasons, I very quickly felt the importance of helping others experience the joy of being around horses. Working with the wonderful clients, staff, and other volunteers, drew me in right away. The feeling of helping someone get out of a wheel chair, experience the freedom of a horse's movement, and to see a horse and rider who are happy to be doing so together, is amazing!

When I'm not volunteering with Athelas I'm a high school biology teacher at Unatego Central School. I'm also an adjunct professor in the education department at SUNY Oneonta, which is where I also earned my B.S. and M.S. in adolescent education. When I'm not working I enjoy playing golf and spending time with my animals. Whether it's curled up on the couch with Kat Von D, my little gray cat, taking long walks with my Siberian husky, Aurora, or pursuing the challenge of developing a partnership with my horse Billy, you can usually find me with at least one of my animals.