Our Staff

Danielle with Dandie

Danielle Coburn – Program Director
Danielle grew up in Danville, attended Seven Hills, Athenian and Pepperdine University.
Prior to being involved with therapeutic riding, she spent many years working in the fashion industry at Nordstrom, followed by working as a sales rep and then in management for international watch companies. Danielle began riding at the age of 6 and was instantly bit by the “horse” bug. She took riding lessons and trained as Hunter Jumper in the Tassajara Valley. Danielle first became involved in therapeutic riding in 2006 when she began volunteering and teaching at SonRise Equestrian Foundation. Seeing the magical connection special needs children had with the horses was magnetic to her, and from then on she was hooked on the concept. She began at Xenophon in 2010 and received her PATH Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification in 2011. Being a part of Xenophon combines her two passions – children and horses.

When Danielle is not at Xenophon, she volunteers as a Wish Grantor for Make A Wish, is a volunteer mentor at SonRise and is also a member of Soroptimist of the San Ramon Valley and San Ramon Valley Horseman’s Association. Danielle enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, friends, her dog “Mattie” and her horse Dandie who retired from Xenophon in 2014.

Linda and Pepper
Linda and Pepper

Linda Parsons – Barn Manager is a local girl. Born and raised in the Bay Area. She grew up from an early very early age riding and showing horses. She was a Deputy Sheriff working for Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. There she was a K-9 patrol officer. One of her assignments was a Community Relations Officer working with kid in need along with her K-9, Bandit.

Wanting to do something meaningful in retirement, Linda found Xenophon a place where her love of horses and her affinity for helping special needs kids and their families was just what she was looking for. Linda currently lives in Orinda with her husband Scott and their demanding cat Jessie. When not at the center she enjoys gardening, hiking and entertaining with her husband around the backyard pizza oven and barbecue.

Mari with Wimbeldon

Mari Parino – Executive Director
Mari graduated from UC Davis in 1981 with a degree in Animal Science, working on horse breeding farms, in small animal medicine, and finally exotic animal medicine with Marine World/Africa USA. In 1993, after a transfer through her husband’s job to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mari taught science in middle school, grades 6-8. Another move took her family to Singapore where she began teaching for The Riding for the Disabled Association, a job that combined her love for children with her passion for horses. Upon returning to the USA, Mari began teaching for Xenophon, ultimately working as the Program Director until 2005 when another overseas transfer took her to Thailand. That move provided Mari with the opportunity to introduce the benefits of therapeutic riding to the disabled community in Rayong, where she started a center. In 2010, with a final relocation back to the Bay Area, Mari took over as Executive Director of Xenophon. In 2016, Mari was awarded the PATH International Professional of the Year Award, both for Region 11 and nationally.

Outside of work, Mari enjoys time with family, training her dog, Piper for Search and Rescue, and working with her 3 Friesian horses. She has competed successfully in dressage and Obstacle Challenge at the state level, does carriage driving, and loves exploring the trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains both on horseback and mountain bike.

Rebecca and Ruthven

Rebecca Wernicke – Office Manager/Volunteer Coordinator/Instructor Rebecca grew up riding in L.A. and Orange County, showing in hunters and equitation. She competed for the UC Berkeley IHSA team while working as a catch rider in the East Bay, rehabbing older horses and bringing along green horses. After graduating with a B.A in History with a focus on environmental history, Rebecca continued on to train horses and teach professionally, teaching hunter/ jumpers riders up to 3’6”. She has dabbled in many disciplines including dressage, endurance, eventing, western, trail, vaulting, sidesaddle, and natural horsemanship. Rebecca volunteered at Ride Your Horse! TRC in Cerritos, CA, while in high school and returned to her passion in 2019 at Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center. She then followed her dream of becoming a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor with PATH Intl., teaching at both Xenophon and Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Petaluma, CA.

On weekends you can find her obsessing over her cat, Connie, reading vampire novels, and looking for the best cheeseburger in Oakland. 

Lindsay Hendricks – Instructor
Lindsay grew up on an island…Alameda! Lindsay graduated from California State East Bay with a BS in Kinesiology, followed by the achievement of a Single Subject Teaching Credential for grades 1-12 and adult school.

In 2011, a friend introduced Lindsay to Xenophon. The idea of a program that used horses as a therapy model for students with disabilities spoke to her. Lindsay has been with Xenophon ever since. She started as a sidewalker, became a groom and then moved on to horse handler. In 2016, Lindsay was awarded the Jean Schaffner Spirit Award for outstanding volunteer at Xenophon, and then was recognized by PATH International as the Volunteer of the Year for Region 11.

In 2017, Lindsay decided to become an instructor under the mentorship of Mari Parino, Xenophon’s Executive Director. Lindsay not only teaches Therapeutic Riding lessons, but also works every Monday with our Alumni Camp. Lindsay can also be found volunteering on other days with Xenophon and is an integral part of the center. Xenophon holds a special place for her.

Jen with Kiwi

Jen Wineman – Instructor
Jen grew up in the central valley of California on a vineyard. After graduating from nursing school and then nurse practitioner school, she worked for 20 years as a primary care pediatric NP in Alameda and Oakland. Jennifer found her way to Xenophon in 2017 in pursuit of a deeper understanding of adaptive riding as a therapy modality for neuro diverse children. She began volunteering, first as side walker, then groom and horse handler. She loved the work so much that in 2018, she quit her job as a pediatric nurse practitioner and decided to become a therapeutic riding instructor. In 2020, she completed the certification process and began teaching at Xenophon. As a child, Jen rode a beautiful Palomino named Gypsy and all these years later, she found horses again. She says that Xenophon combines her two great loves, children and horses, “It was like coming home”.

When not at Xenophon, Jen can be found running, riding her bike, riding Dandelion at Summit Ranch, or walking her dog Wally with her husband Matt.

Laura Fend – Instructor

Laura Fend – Instructor
Laura graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Child Development. She went on to get her teaching credential from St. Mary’s College, and spent 15 years teaching elementary school in both the Mt. Diablo and Walnut Creek School Districts. Laura began volunteering for Xenophon over 15 year ago and it was here she found her true love. Teaching therapeutic riding combined her love for horses and children.

Laura has been involved in the horse world for over 40 years. She is an active competitor in endurance riding, along with her husband, Gary, of 42 + years. She currently serves as the pasture manager for the Moraga Horseman’s Association, having served as president for both that organization and the San Ramon Valley Horseman’s Association. Laura enjoys working in the yard and restoring her house of 100+ years, as well as spending time with her 2 children, grandchildren, dogs and chickens. When not at the center she enjoys camping in the mountains and spending time at the beach.

Tineke with Go-Go and Ozzie

Tineke Jacobsen – Physical Therapist
Tineke was born in The Netherlands, and came to the United States in 1965. In, 19—she graduated from and became a licensed Physical Therapist, working with children in a clinical setting. In 1995, she attended a seminar on Hippotherapy and realized this was the perfect opportunity to combine two things she loved, her career and horses. Tineke began as a volunteer for Xenophon in , obtaining her instructor certification with PATH International. When a hippotherapy program was started at NCEFT (National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy) in Woodside, she began practicing with them and then was instrumental in getting a hippotherapy program started at Xenophon. In addition, she helped develop a therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, and therapeutic driving program at Access Adventure.

Tineke has been involved with horses for over 20 years. She loves dressage and has competed successfully at 1st level. Tineke and her husband, an orthopedic surgeon, are very active in Healthcare Volunteer Overseas, an organization that offers education to professional healthcare workers in foreign countries. Their travels with HVO have taken them to Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Cambodia, Uganda and Haiti. Amidst all of this, Tineke still finds time to spend with her 4 daughters and grandchildren.

Lisa Dominiak – Occupational Therapist
Lisa grew up in the Bay Area and attended San Jose State University.  She graduated with a degree in Occupational Therapy and has worked as an OT for over 20 years.   She was drawn to pediatrics early in her career and has worked in local hospitals including UCSF Children’s Hospital Oakland and John Muir Medical Center.  Lisa currently works in a pediatric outpatient setting, in addition to Xenophon.

Lisa discovered the “magic” of horses in more recent years and is so glad she did.  “To combine the movement of these beautiful animals with the work that I love is very special.  I am so happy to be a part of this program.”   

Lisa is also a certified yoga teacher and enjoys bringing her mindful movement training into her therapy sessions.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, yoga and Taiko drumming.

Melissa with Dandie and Starlight

Melissa Maker – Physical Therapist Assistant and Instructor
Melissa is a true local girl, having grown up in the Orinda area. She has been volunteering/working at Xenophon for 18 years. Melissa began as a volunteer, first sidewalking, then becoming a horse handler. She began teaching for Xenophon in 2000 and became a PATH Certified Registered Instructor in 2003. She is currently in a physical therapy assistant program and looking forward to completing that in May of 2015. Melissa has been riding most of her life, participating in pony club and then going on to compete in dressage and 3-Day Eventing. Her talented equestrienne skills led her to become a riding instructor in her teens and she has continued since that time.

Outside of Xenophon, Melissa enjoys playing tennis, skiing and running agility with the Australian Shepherds in her life, Luke and Blue.

Haley with Ruby

Haley Mathews – Instructor
Haley grew up riding horses on her family’s cattle ranch in San Ramon, California. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Agricultural Science with a concentration in horses. Right out of college she worked with at-risk high school students in various countries and Hawaii for three years. Haley worked for 12 years as the assistant director of Shepherd’s Gate in Livermore, a homeless shelter for women and children.

In 2008, when her 3 children were in High School, Haley became involved with therapeutic riding at SonRise Equestrian in Castro Valley where she continues to teach riding lessons. She received her PATH certification in 2014. The beautiful connection between the horse and the child is what Haley loves most about therapeutic riding. She joined the Xenophon team in January 2015.

When not teaching riding lessons, Haley works at her family’s commercial real estate business and manages the cattle ranch in San Ramon where she and her husband, Brian, live. She loves walking on the ranch with her two dogs Max and Zorro.

Misha Jacobs – Instructor

Misha Jacobs – Instructor
“Michelle (aka. Misha) grew up in the Bay Area and has loved horses from an early age. She was certified as a PATH Instructor in 2010, while attending CSU Chico. She graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Recreation Administration – Therapeutic Recreation. After being awarded a merit internship, she interned at the National Ability Center, in Park City, Utah. Misha has always been passionate about working with people with different abilities, animals, and being outdoors!

In 2013 she passed her national exam and became a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. While she is grateful for a wonderful range of learning experiences she has had (preschoolers, youth who are blind/visually impaired, adults with developmental delay, prison inmate/patients in mental health, and seniors in memory care), Misha especially enjoys community recreation and working with children. She has a certified therapy dog that she enjoys taking to work to provide animal-assisted therapy to her clients.

Misha began riding at the age of 4 and has competed in english pleasure as a youth, but now prefers western pleasure riding, as well as natural horsemanship, and attending clinics around the bay. She is also passionate about animal rescue and rehabilitation. Getting outdoors as much as possible, swimming, hiking with her dog Sheila, camping, and backpacking are favorite leisure interests of Misha’s as well. She also enjoys spending time with her family, close friends, and two horses Klassi and Cassidy.

Misha does not believe in “dis”abilities, but rather “different” abilities.”