Stars and Strides 

Our mission is to help individuals overcome challenges through the integration and use of horses in a therapeutic environment.

Stars and Strides was founded in September 2014. The main facility is located in Bridgeport, West Virginia. 

Stars and Strides is a nonprofit organization founded to provide a therapeutic environment in which persons dealing with emotional, physical, cognitive and social struggles can find hope and healing through an equine partnership. Stars and Strides falls under the council of a wide field of experts who serve as advisory board members: therapists, special education educators, certified equine assisted learning facilitators, attorneys, medical personnel, certified public accountants, and horse trainers.

Rebecca Flanagan
Executive Director

Rebecca has been a horse lover all her life. After graduating from WVU with a degree in Agriculture and starting her career, she was able to purchase her first horse. Following through with her love of all things equine, Rebecca has done extensive study of horse behavior and became certified as a Horse Specialist in Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies. She spent time volunteering at a therapeutic riding center before deciding to open a place in her own community. She says that helping others through the use of horses is the best life she could ever imagine.

Amanda Stewart
Equine Operations Consultant

Dr. Stewart, is arguably one of the most highly qualified equine specialist in the state of West Virginia. She has served as the Director of Equine Studies at Bethany College and holds two degrees from West Virginia University and one from The University of Tennessee. Her entire career has been focused on horsemanship and training. She has served as the Equine Studies and Facility manager at Oglebay Resort and has published articles in Endurance News Magazine. Dr. Stewart is a Level II ARIA certified instructor in both recreational and endurance categories. She also holds an AERC master certification. She has a lifelong passion for helping and teaching others about the magic of horses.

Rebecca Wentz
Board Secretary

Rebecca Wentz is a civilian employee with the West Virginia State Police where she serves as Troop 1 Clerk and administrative support for the Captain. Rebecca has served as a member of the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Directors for the City of Bridgeport and the Barbour County Horseman’s Association. Rebecca is a member of the Diamond Council of America and has numerous accreditations in the hospitality industry from over a decade of management experience. Rebecca currently volunteers with Stars and Strides Therapeutic Equine Center and serves on their board of directors. Rebecca holds an Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies from Alderson-Broaddus University with a curriculum encompassed in the areas of Sociology and Biology.

Steve Swiger

Board of Directors

Steve Swiger is a graduate of Doddridge County High Scholl and the West Virginia State Police Academy. He is a 22-year veteran with the West Virginia State Police stationed at the Bridgeport Department. Steve is a member of the Harrison County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) as well as the Task Force to Stop Domestic Violence. Steve was deputized as a member of a special task force for North Central West Virginia. Steve volunteers with Stars and Strides Equine Therapy and serves on the board of directors.

Alicia Ziman

Alicia Ziman is proud to serve as President of the board, therapeutic riding instructor, equine activities facilitator, and to wear whatever hat Stars and Strides needs her to wear. A native of WV, Alicia loves providing a service that she knows can benefit every member of community in both riding or volunteering. Alicia is 2006 graduate of WVU with a bachelors degree in MDS and a Masters in Elementary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. Alicia is a Behavior Support Specialist for West Virginia’s Behavior and Mental Health Technical Assistance Center at Marshall University’s Autism Training Center. She has previously been a PreK teacher for 12 years and remains passionate about early childhood education, children with special needs, the importance of mental health and how trauma effects our lives. Alicia is a dedicated lifelong learner who loves the challenge of discovering more about equine therapy, horse training and care, and how to better serve our clients and the challenges we all face.

Dawn Light

Dawn grew up with a childhood dream of owning a horse, and when the stars were perfectly aligned she was able to make that dream come true. She now owns a farm in rural Harrison County and not only does she now have horses but she has a working farm with multiple breeds of livestock. She considers herself a farmHER living her dream. Dawn is a 2006 graduate of West Virginia University with a bachelors degree in nursing. Dawn has done extensive study of horse and animal behavior. She also holds a certification in equine assisted activities and therapies. Most recently Dawn has began to study Reiki, which she is hoping to incorporate into equine activities for even greater benefits.

Sandie Wells

Board of Directors

Sandie grew up in Salem, and Fairmont is her home. After retiring from a 40-year occupation as Chief Nuclear Medicine Technologist (at Fairmont General Hospital), she became a volunteer with SAS. Through some twists of fate she, became reacquainted with the first foal she raised and showed. When she discovered Zoey was one of the original SAS therapy horses, Sandie joined the program. Besides having a passion for helping people, a love of horses and being a political news geek, her way to slow down is through oil painting.


Lyndsay Jackson

Board of Directors

Lyndsay is excited to join the board of directors for Stars and Strides. She graduated from WVU with a bachelor degree in animal and veterinary sciences and then earned her doctorate in physical therapy. She was able to realize her passion in the field and work as a pediatric physical therapist while living in Oklahoma. After starting her family and moving back to West Virginia, she shifted her focus toward her two young children. She became acquainted with Stars and Strides when her older son became a rider with the program. She was thrilled that he was able to reach some of his goals while having genuine fun with the horses and fantastic volunteers. She hopes to give back to others in the community and to the program that has been such a blessing to her family.