Colleagues

MiMer works together with other devoted people, organizations and businesses worldwide, who share our visions, missions and goals, to gain and share more knowledge about equines, to implement better equine welfare and ethics, to be able to offer better and more sustainable results from equine assisted therapies, to be able to offer treatment for more people in need, with the help of equines, to better understand the impact of trauma on equines and humans, to be able to offer better education for Equine Professionals who want to work in the field of EAI.

Emily Kieson

Emily KiesonEmily Kieson M.S., PgDip, ESMHL, PhD (Oklahoma, USA)

Emily is a member of the Board in MiMer and serves as our secretary. She is the director or our research department, which she leads together with Francesca Gatti. Emily is also our contact person and program director in US (together with Kate Causbie), Together with Katarina Lundgren she is also responsible for creating and developing our educational material.

Emily has a PhD in Comparative Psychology from Oklahoma State University, a MS in Psychology from Oklahoma State University, a B.S. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Equine Science from the University of Edinburgh. She is currently working as a teacher at….. Her passion is researching equine behavioral psychology in the context of the horse-human dyad with specific application to equine-assisted therapies.

Emily has spent almost 20 years as a multi-disciplinary trainer and instructor in both Texas and Oklahoma and became interested in equine-assisted activities and therapies about ten years ago. She has been trained in EAGALA, Natural Lifemanship, and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) in which she is certified as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. It was during these trainings that she discovered the lack of research in horse-human interactions and became interested (honestly, obsessed) with developing the science in this field. Specifically, Emily is interested in understanding how horses interact with humans in ways that mimic social bonding to help develop better models of equine-assisted psychotherapy that use equine interactions to parallel interpersonal relationships. She also has ambitions of using this to help individuals create better relationships with their horses at home and create more centralized educational resources for horse owners and equine practitioners.

In addition to working on her doctorate at OSU, Emily is a therapeutic riding instructor at a PATH facility in Stillwater and collaborates with various equine therapy facilities in Oklahoma for both research and therapy for all sectors of society.

You find Emily at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sonja Lairila

Ballou&SonjaSonja Lairila, Equine ethics and -relationship consultant & yoga instructor (Finland, Germany) 

Sonja is a board member in MiMer. She is responsible for our information and communication (with a special focus on our website and blog) together with Kate Causbie and Katarina Lundgren. Sonja is also our overall European contact person and program director, together with Katarina Lundgren.

Sonja has 20 years of experience in different disciplines with horses. Her passion to truly understand equines was evoked by working with many traumatized horses over the years. By being close to horses that had suffered lead her to study equines, and equine-human interaction intensively from different perspectives.

Besides horses, Sonja is a Dynamic Mindfulness yoga instructor, and her passion for movement and mindfulness reaches over to the equine world as well. She is curious about mindful movement experiences, and how that connects to the relationships/interactions with horses. She believes in the power of just being and observing in order to understand, both ourselves, and our equine partners better.

Sonja’s interdisciplinary approach aims to bring a wider understanding and better welfare to the world of equines. Her aim is to help people improve their relationships with their equine partners through mutual understanding and to improve the general welfare and wellbeing of equines (and humans) by education.

You find Sonja at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Francesca Gatti

Fracesca GattiFrancesca Gatti (Norway, Italy)

Francesca is a board member in MiMer and is responsible for our research departement together with Emily Kieson. 

Francesca is a biologist (PhD in biotechnology) who has mostly worked in basic and clinical research of animal models of human diseases. Her last research was a randomized clinical trial for complementary horse assisted therapy for the treatment of addictions.

Her scientific interests include human health and wellbeing, biomarkers of stress and disease in human and animals, One Health, animal welfare and wellbeing, animal assisted interventions, innovative and sustainable approaches for experiential learning and personal development.

Promotion of research and knowledge dissemination of equine assisted interventions that look at both human and animal health and wellbeing, through project proposal, interdisciplinary and international collaborations, and organization of trainings and workshops, are her main goals, as board member of MiMer!

Francesca is mostly active in Norway and Italy, but very happy to collaborate with the rest of the world!

You find Francesca at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kate Causbie

Kate CausbieKate Causbie (Washington, USA)

Kate is a member of the board in MiMer and is resposible for information and communication (with a special focus on our newsletters) together with Sonja Lairila and Katarina Lundgren. She is also a US-based contact person and supports programs in the US, with Emily Kieson.

Kate holds a BA in Interdepartmental Studies - Critical Social Psychology from Wittenberg University, and works in a variety of emotional support roles including as a birth doula and trauma-informed mindfulness and yoga instructor. She started spending time with horses as a young teenager, volunteering at a therapeutic riding center as well as exploring various approaches to understanding equine cognition and movement science. During her research for her BA she saw deeper nuance in the power and practices of equine human interactions, and works to find the guidance that ecological thinking, and in particular ecopsychology's ethos, can add to our paradigms in these practices.

You find Kate at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Maja Tarka

Maja TarkaMaja Tarka (Sweden, Poland) - currently on maternity leave

Maja is a member of the board in MiMer and is our Treasurer.

Maja Tarka is an evolutionary biologist with a PhD in animal ecology. Originally from Poland, she has spent most of her life living in Sweden and is currently holding a researcher position at Lund University. She is investigating how wild animal populations differ in their ability to evolve, depending on specific traits, selection types, life histories and ecological settings. Maja is an avid spokesperson for bettering the living conditions of equines, by spreading knowledge and a better understanding of their needs. She has had a great interest in horses for her entire life, and prefers to spend her time walking side by side with her horse, and the other members of the herd.

You find Maja at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (when she is back form her maternity leave)

Jessie Sams

Jessie SamsJessie Sams, Animal Behaviourist (UK)

Jessie is MiMer's UK contact person.

Jessie is an animal behaviour consultant who completed a degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at the University of Greenwich in 2012. She is also currently undertaking her Certification with the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour to become a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist. She has been around horses since a young child and prior to working as a behaviour consultant she worked with a wide range of horses in different settings and circumstances including work with showjumpers and racehorses. Jessie competed up to young riders level and produced her pony as a Junior from British Novice to JA.From here she grew a passion for giving horses the very best start regardless of discipline using a holistic approach of the horses psychological and physical wellbeing. After completing her degree she then developed an interest in positive reinforcement training. She also works in a mixed general practice with horses and dogs, many of whom have suffered trauma. Jessie has a special interest in trauma in non-human animals and incorporates trauma informed care principles, neuroscience, Polyvagal and attachment theory into her work. Her approach is integral and focuses on the whole animal with the aim of improving animal – human relationships by facilitating safe relationships and experiences from which a solid foundation and relationship can be built.

Her own business, Animal Trauma Recovery Service in UK you find more info about here: https://www.facebook.com/Animaltraumarecoveryservice/

You find Jessie Sams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sharolyn Wandzura

Sharolyn2Sharolyn Wandzura (BC, Canada)

Our contact person and program director in regards to trainings in CANADA.

Sharolyn Wandzura holds a BFA from the University of Saskatchewan and currently offers Equine Guided Leadership & Relational Development programs at Ears Forward Coaching (www.earsforward.com) based out of Azadeh Acres located in Maple Ridge, BC. As a long time student of the horse, she blends Liberty Horse Training, Equine Guided Development & Life Coaching to help clients find their voice, become compassionate leaders and have courageous conversations.

Since first beginning her studies in the field of Equine Assisted Learning & Equine Guided Development in 2006 she has been continually exploring and wanting to learn more to support practitioners and horses working in this field. Promoting education, standards and scope of practice that focuses on the well-being of the entire team, particularly equine welfare is a deep passionate goal of hers. She is thrilled to be supporting the growth of EiT so the latest equine behaviour research and best practices may be available coast to coast in Canada.

You find Sharolyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.