Practitioners

Lisa Coffey

Lisa is the founder of Racing Hearts. Originally from Ireland, Lisa made the move to Australia in 2009. Lisa has worked in the racing industry in both Ireland and Australia.

It wasn’t until a riding injury that Lisa found her love of counselling; while recovering from her injury she studied counselling and psychotherapy. Naturally, Lisa combined her love of horses with her interest in therapy and discovered the benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy. Lisa’s passion is helping both people and horses.

Vanessa Keating with alpacas

Vanessa Keating

With over 20 years of experience in assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health concerns, Vanessa is a registered clinical psychologist who has completed a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Psychology followed by a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. Vanessa enjoys working in collaboration with each individual client and recognising their unique needs to develop a therapy plan that feels safe, supportive, and empowering. A true animal love, Vanessa has also been running her own farm for 10 years and is currently attempting to breed therapy-friendly alpacas.

Practitioner Jo Gil with a horse

Jo Gill

Jo started as a nurse at the Alfred Hospital in 1976 before going on to study as a midwife, which she went on to practice for 20 years before switching to mental health. Jo has completed a Graduate Diploma in Family Therapy and Mental Health Nursing, specializing in women’s health, perinatal mental health, family therapy, and youth mental health. She is also a Reiki 2 practitioner and a Stillness Based Mindfulness Meditation and Self Compassion Meditation Teacher. Jo has loved horses her whole life and owns her own horse named Ziggy. She likes taking Ziggy for rides around Red Hill and Main Ridge.

Effie Gray with her Saint Bernard and a pony

Effie Gray

Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Effie has been living in Australia for more than 6 years. Effie has been working with horses since she was 16, and quickly became aware of the importance of counselling in a stressful and injury prone industry. Effie became more interested in counselling after she completed training to become a therapy dog handler with her Saint Bernard, Dude, and went on to undertake formal studies in counselling and animal assisted therapies. Effie and Dude can frequently be seen around Graybrook brightening everyone’s day.

Sue Morgan posing with horses

Sue Morgan

Sue is a passionate educator who organizes our School Programs, Incursions, and other initiatives in Early Learning and Secondary Schools. Sue has over 30 years in education, both as a teacher and a principal. She has several degrees, with a specific focus on wellbeing, trauma-informed practice, and mental health. Sue has been around horses all her life, but was attracted to Racing Hearts after being frustrated by the limitations of traditional therapy for young people in the school system. When not riding a horse, Sue enjoys being active and spending time with her horses and dogs.

Shannon Metzget

Although not originally from a “horsey family,” Shannon got her first pony at aged 10 and quickly got into competing. From there, Shannon completed her Certificate III in Agriculture (Horse Breeding), which lead to her career in the horse industry. She got involved with Racing Hearts after meeting Lisa while completing her Certificate III in Racing (Trackrider).Shannon has been involved in almost all aspects of the racing industry, from jockeying to stable management, but decided to pursue other avenues in the horse industry in early 2021, which is how she came to racing hearts.

Horses enjoying the shade of a forest

Assistant Practitioners

Child hugging horse

Chatsfield

Chatty came to us via the Racing Victoria RESET program. We are unsure of his racing history but this beautiful soul spent some time at RSPCA Victoria before joining us. Although we sometimes call him fidget (because he likes to move around when everyone else is standing still!) he is always ready to offer support.

A horse named Goofy with a young girl

Goofy

Known as Green Trader during his racing days, Goofy was gifted to us by his owner Kathryn Syer. Goofy had a very successful eventing career before his old tired legs didn’t want to do it anymore. One of the oldest gentlemen we have in the team, Goofy always takes a very slow and steady approach to life and we love him for it.

Lager

Called Lagerfeld when racing, Lager was kindly gifted to us by Ciaron Maher Racing. Lisa actually rode Lager when he was a racehorse, fell in love with him and followed his career until he retired. We are so grateful to have him on the team. He absolutely LOVES cuddles and is quickly becoming a firm favourite!

Poh the horse with a young boy

Poh

Race name: Brookie Hill. Poh was bought by us at the Echuca sales where his owner was there to ensure he went to a good home. Poh never raced but had a life as a show horse. He is the oldest retired racehorse on the team born in 2000. Just like Goofy he enjoys life in the slow lane.

Sue Morgan posing with horses

Toby and Wildfire

Toby (race name Shamballs) and Wildfire are Sue’s two greatest loves in her life. Whilst Toby is very young, playful and a little mischievous, Wildfire has an old head on young shoulders. Toby’s favourite past time is grabbing things with his lips! Anything left lying around ends up in his mouth! Wildfire is certainly like a golden child, always eager to please.

School group interacting with a horse during an Equine Assisted Therapy session

Sid

Race name: Hissing Sid. Sid is a bit of a celebrity around the Western Districts where he won 2 Warrnambool Cups in a row and was also handy over the jumps! Sid is the kind of horse who just enjoys his own company however we notice he always steps in to protect the female horses in the herd! Perhaps he should be called Romeo!

Frankie the pony

Frankie

Frankie is our cheeky little monkey! Always found getting up to some kind of mischief, this little lady definitely has a very strong mind of her own. She loves a bath and will eat almost anything she can get her lips around!

Suzie the pony

Suzie

Suzie was kindly gifted to us by two of our best volunteers Darren and Sandra Barling. At the ripe old age of 23, Suzie is still an adventurer and loves to go for walks with our clients who are supported by wheelchairs and walkers. She is incredibly sweet and loves when our clients give her a fresh hairdo!

Katie the horse with kids

Katie

Katie is kindly on loan to us through Los Equidos Equine Assisted Therapy. Katie lives with Frankie and Suzie and is a little like a mother hen trying to keep them in line. Katie assists many of our clients who are a little nervous of getting on the bigger horses at first. 

Moorunda Miss being ridden by a woman

Moorunda Miss

Moorunda Miss came to us via the Racing Victoria RESET program. We call Moorunda our firey red head as she can be quite flighty when she needs to be but as gentle as a lamb with our clients. This pretty girl has also been a mum and she very much takes on this role with the horses and people she meets. She is quite the little protector.