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Equestrian Staff

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Debra Schuessler

Barn Manager

Debbi grew up deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York near Lake Placid. At age 3, her parents decided it was time for her to have her own horse, and she got her first pony as a Christmas gift in 1979. From that day forward, she has always had a horse or three to ride and care for. She began showing extensively in every riding and driving class she was old enough to enter in the upstate NY area, soon after, in addition to being extremely active with her local 4-H group. Her 4-H club even had a polo team that competed locally, playing against high goal teams from as far away as Binghamton for fun. If Debbi wasn’t in school, then she most likely was on the back of a horse, somewhere in the Adirondacks. She would often be gone all day, riding old logging roads that crisscrossed the mountains near her home.

In 1992, Debbi’s family moved to Kansas, where she attended Kansas State University, majoring in Pre-Vet. She married her husband, Marc, in 1996, and became a “military wife.” She has lived all over the country with her family. Over the years, Debbi has worked as a small animal, livestock, and equine vet tech, in practices in Kansas, Oklahoma, and briefly in Alaska. She also co-managed a 24-stall boarding facility in Oklahoma, until it was destroyed in the May 3, 1999 F5 tornado. One of her favorite jobs has been working as a carriage driver in Bricktown, OK.

Debbi and her family currently live in Nanjemoy, only a few miles away from the Melwood Recreation Center. Debbi owns three horses; one she generously shares with Melwood! She also has four dogs, six cats, 12 goats, 17 hermit crabs, and 15 chickens! Debbi has been with Melwood since the beginning of 2013.

Caitlin Martin

Equestrian Program Coordinator

Caitlin Martin has been riding horses since the age of eight. While her family was stationed in Spain, she focused mainly on show jumping competitively up to 1.30 meters. When her family moved back state side, she started competing in local hunter shows. She earned her C-3 rating in the United States Pony Club with De La Brooke Pony Club. During high school, Caitlin began riding and competing with Sam Allan, a local eventer. Directly after graduating from high school in 2008, Caitlin was hired as a groom, barn manager, and rider for Matt Flynn of Flynn Sport Horses. As an instructor, Caitlin has taught youth and adults from beginners learning to walk and trot, to more advanced riders in the sport of eventing. Caitlin began working for Melwood as the Equestrian Program Coordinator in the summer of 2013. She acquired her PATH certification in 2014.

Caitlin has two young children who share her passion for horses. Caitlin gained much of her experience and knowledge of working with people with disabilities from assisting her mom, who is a Special Education teacher. She appreciates being able to share the inclusive environment of Melwood with her children.

2021 Registration Now Open!


The Melwood Retreat Center is open from late August until early June for private event rentals, to include family reunions, corporate trainings, team building retreats, weddings, church retreats, school groups, and more.


Equestrian Program: A program designed for riders of all ages and ability levels, including riders with special needs.


Campers enjoy a variety of different activities including swimming, wall climbing, ropes course, archery, creative arts, canoeing, horseback riding, campfires, talent shows and much more.

2022 Access Adventures

Access Adventures is Melwood’s Travel Program designed for people with disabilities who are at least 18 years old.

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