Via Nova Lead Trainer and Barn Manager of Terra Nova Equestrian Center
For Training and Lesson information visit Gilly’s website Simply 3-Day and Dressage
Gilly Slayter brings her wealth of equestrian skills, education and competition experience along with her passion and energy to Via Nova’s training program. As a professional, Gilly stays on top of the dynamic world of competition and training by participating in clinics and other educational programs, and maintaining challenging upper-level competitive goals for herself. She’s witnessed the power of using positive reinforcement to bring improvement for both horses and riders, and looks for the most effective ways to incorporate R+ solutions into traditional training techniques for dressage and eventing. With a deep understanding of the nature of horses, and her love of interacting with people, Gilly is an ideal trainer for students at all levels of experience.
Gilly began riding at the age of five, competed in FEI-level Dressage as well as FEI-level Three-Day Eventing, and earned her USDF Silver Medal for achievement at Fourth and Prix St.Georges Level. She competed at the North American Young Rider Championships as a member of the 1992 Area X Three-Day team in Bromont, Canada, and again in 1996 with the Region V Advanced Young Riders Dressage team at Temple Farms. Gilly went on to develop her own Advanced Level event horse, Simply Larry, purchased in 1995 as an un-started three year old.
Gilly was also a member of the elite USEA Developing Riders squad in 2003, and in 2011 passed the USDF L Judging Program with distinction. Created by the US Dressage Federation Judges’ Committee, this educational training program teaches judges to evaluate the correct training of dressage horses.
Combining a business degree with a lifelong familiarity with stable management, Gilly is our knowledgeable and responsive Barn Manager at our Santa Fe Facility, Terra Nova Training Center. The well-being of the horses is her highest goal.
Via Nova Lead Trainer and Supervisor of Via Nova’s Priority to Positive® (PtP) Student Program
Via Nova’s Lead Trainer, Meredith Ritter embraces and practices Priority to Positive® in all aspects of her work. A self-proclaimed “barn rat,” Meredith was bitten by the horse bug early, never to recover. At the young age of six, she was already riding, training, and competing, which began her lifetime love of learning about horsemanship, animal welfare, and horse behavior. In her teens, she competed as an eventer while she received her C3 in the Pony Club.
At sixteen, Meredith’s equestrian path continued when she was given the opportunity to study and train at Simply 3 Day Dressage with Gilly Slayter (Via Nova Lead Trainer and Barn Manager at Terra Nova Equestrian Center). Here Meredith’s knowledge of horses and the sport grew, and she eventually began teaching dressage and jumping to amateur riders of all levels.
During this time, she discovered her passion for training and developing children, adults, and horses—becoming known for her talent for bringing out the best in them, especially quirky horses.
After college and becoming licensed as a registered nurse, Meredith’s heart brought her back to Via Nova as a Lead Trainer and Supervisor of Via Nova’s Priority to Positive® (PtP) Student Program. In this role, she leads and develops our next generation of PtP® trainers with the goal of increasing the use and understanding of positive reinforcement and behavioral science when training horses in the traditional equestrian world.
Meredith’s experience, knowledge, and vision continue to drive Via Nova’s success and future.
Via Nova Assistant Trainer
Via Nova Assistant Trainer Cami Hustead grew up in Northern Virginia and fell in love with the equestrian world when she was six years old after seeing a pony ride while driving with her parents. That six-year-old Cami demanded her parents pull over and allow her a ride; three rounds later, they dragged her back into the car and signed her up for lessons. She’s continued her equestrian career since, volunteering at summer camps, taking various barn jobs, competing as an eventer, hunter and jumper, and riding on her college’s dressage team.
Cami went on to receive her BS in Animal Science with an equestrian emphasis at Virginia Tech, where she also researched and practiced positive reinforcement, which impacted the equestrian community at her school. After graduating, she realized that horses couldn’t just be a hobby, so she searched out an equestrian career. Serendipitously, she came across Via Nova’s student trainer position and joined Via Nova in 2021.
I judge what I do [each] day based on how I made the horses I interacted with feel and if I left them better off.
Cami completed the inaugural year of the Priority to Positive® training program and has been integral in expanding and adding to the program. At Via Nova, Cami uses Priority to Positive® and Positive Reinforcement practices to directly improve the quality of training for Via Nova’s horses, develop R+ skills with our boarders, and educate new trainers.
Cami loves that Via Nova focuses on growth and learning and that when working with horses, “no two days are the same; when you have a bad day, you can be sure that tomorrow is a new start and anything could happen.”
Via Nova Assistant Trainer
Jasmine Piepho, Via Nova Assistant Trainer, joined Via Nova in 2021 as a Student Trainer. A valuable member of Via Nova’s team and program, Jasmine helps test new practices and methods, trains our collection of green to experienced horses, and works with our clients to teach the Priority to Positive® approach.
Growing up in Owatonna, MN, Jasmine’s family had a small hobby farm where she unearthed an aptitude and enthusiasm for animal husbandry. At 16, Jasmine began riding, discovering an equestrian calling, which led her to attend South Dakota University to pursue a minor in Equine Studies and a BS in Biology.
Between her careers as a riding instructor, barn manager, trail guide and wrangler, Jasmine also pursued and received her certificate in Equine Bodywork. During this time, Jasmine also acquired her horse Leia, an experienced western gaming mare, and began her path with Positive Reinforcement.
I never stop learning from horses! Their personalities are so fun to explore, and positive reinforcement work goes hand in hand with really getting to know them as an individual, which makes relationship building with them so much sweeter!
Jasmine found that Leia was experienced and reliable under saddle, but she was shut down and quick to react anxiously, so Jasmine used her self-taught knowledge of R+ as an opportunity to bring forward Leia’s personality and understand her motivations. Wanting to learn more about R+ and promote it in the wider equestrian community, Jasmine joined Via Nova’s Priority to Positive program as a Student Trainer. With new insight, tools, and dedication, Jasmine has continued her R+ journey with Leia at Via Nova. She loves to watch Leia’s personality burst through and explore Leia’s true personality!
Jasmine brings her love of learning, horse husbandry, and ambition to Via Nova to develop every horse, grow the Priority to Positive® program, and teach others about Positive Reinforcement. Along with building her own strong relationships with the horses, Jasmine enjoys coaching riders to develop successful relationships with their own horses.