Meet Our Instructors

Jeannie Knowlton

Hope Springs’ programs are managed by Jeannie Knowlton, Executive Director/Senior Instructor. Jeannie is a member of PATH International and an accomplished horsewoman with over 45 years of experience teaching both able-bodied students and those with disabilities. All instructors report to Jeannie as our Executive Director/Senior Instructor and are listed below.

E. Dallas Knowlton

E. Dallas Knowlton, Program Director, has a Masters’ degrees in Counseling and Public Health, a graduate certificate in Autism Studies, and has completed Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) seminars. In addition to working as a part-time instructor at Hope Springs since 2008, Dallas works professionally with children with special needs.

Helen Garthwaite

Helen Garthwaite joined Hope Springs as a part-time instructor in 2012. She is an experienced Therapeutic Riding Instructor who lives just down the road from Hope Springs and also helps to care for our horses. Before joining Hope Springs, Helen taught riding for years at Thorncroft Equestrian Center, where she worked with individuals with many kinds of disabilities.

Melanie R. McCartney

Melanie R. McCartney, certified by the Huntlea Horse Center, has over 40 years of riding instruction experience, including four years as a part-time Hope Springs riding instructor. In addition to teaching blind and deaf riders at Hope Springs, Melanie operates her own equestrian center for able-bodied riders.

Lauren Eder

Lauren Eder joined Hope Springs as a part-time instructor in 2015. She has a Masters in Social Services and is pursuing her Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning PATH certifications. Lauren started teaching riding at age 15 and has a decade of professional experience assisting children with autism and other disabilities at the Devereux Foundation and the Chester County Intermediate Unit.

Jesse Bickel

Jesse Bickel joined Hope Springs as a part-time instructor in 2018 after working with our riders as a volunteer for several years. She has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Eastern University and has been involved with horses her entire life. Jesse looks forward to combining her two passions of horses and helping others by teaching riders with disabilities at Hope Springs.

Jan Brooks

Jan Brooks is a Hope Springs Board Member and retired special education teacher. Jan chairs the Hope Springs Program Committee and has overseen our “Strides to Success” special education program since 2010.


In addition, Hope Springs relies heavily upon nearly 60 volunteers to assist riders during weekly therapeutic riding sessions.  Volunteers also provide clerical help and staffing at special events.