Our Team

Helen Messenger, President, Founder, Manager

Helen Messenger, President, Founder, Manager

Helen's interest in horses started at the early age of 5. She graduated in 1972 from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital’s Nursing Program. Her nursing career ranged from General Surgery to Labor & Delivery to Infant Nursery. In 1977, she focused primarily on Pediatric care and that evolved into working with special needs children and adults in 1985.

Helen bought her first horse, Rum Rico Bars, in 1977 and started with trail riding. She began competing in shows with Sleepin Partner and breeding Quarter Horses in 1981. Mesa Vista Farm was established in January, 1995, offering breeding, boarding and lesson programs. Therapeutic riding was added in 1996. The farm evolved into Mesa Vista Therapeutics, Inc. (MVT) and became a 501(c)(3) organization in November, 2005, making its primary mission working with special needs individuals. Helen's passion for people and animals defines her goal of "bringing animals and individuals with special needs together."

Dr. Courtney Belden, Vice President

Dr. Courtney Belden, Vice President

Dr. Belden graduated from St. George's School of Veterinary Medicine in January 2006. Afterwards, she went on to complete internships in both equine ambulatory medicine/general practice and large animal surgery. Dr. Belden then worked as an associate for 1 year in equine practice followed by 2 years in small animal practice. During her internships, Dr. Belden was exposed to acupuncture as a treatment modality and was immediately impressed and determined to become certified. She completed her certification in veterinary acupuncture through the Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians course in Ft Collins, CO in 2008. In 2011, Dr. Belden opened her own veterinary and acupuncture practice, Central Virginia Veterinary and Acupuncture (www.centralvavet.com). Dr. Belden is also on the medical advisory board for Fetch A Cure and enjoys spending time with her dog, supportive boyfriend, family and friends in her spare time.

Andrea Cherry, Director

Andrea Cherry, Director

Andi is a Sr. IT Systems Analyst at Genworth. Her riding interests started in elementary school where she joined Pony Club. She has Been with Mesa Vista for over 5 years. Currently she is the Lead volunteer and schedule coordinator. She Became interested in therapeutic riding looking for options for son with ADHD, Sensory Processing issues and Aspergers.

Jim Rice, Director

Jim Rice, Director

Jim is a district sales manager with Armstrong Flooring. Jim came to Mesa Vista 10 years when his daughter Vivi came to ride at age 3 to help with her Rhett’s Syndrome. Vivi is now 13 and continues to ride at Mesa Vista. Jim enjoys spending time with his children, Vivi and Will, the beach and going fishing.

Neil Kauder, Associate

Neil is President of Visual Research, Inc., a consulting firm located in Midlothian, VA. He was married to Andrea Kauder until her death in 2004. The classroom is named in her honor.

Neil has 2 sons, Adam and Bryan. Adam is a graduate of James Madison University and Bryan is a student at Harvard.

He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has been involved in equestrian activities off and on for 35 years. Neil also enjoys many outdoor activities, including fishing. He is now married to Jane Kauder, a graduate of the University of Virginia who is an avid golfer and excellent tennis player.

Charlie Transue, Intermediate and Advanced Instructor

Moved to Powhatan on March 1, 2015, leasing old Mesa Vista on Genito Road. His orgnization is called CT Performance. He is originally from New Jersey. His prior achievements include Coaching Rutgers Western and Hunter Teams, Clients winning Championships in the Appaloosa, Quarter Horse and Paint organizations along with the Hunter world.

Since his arrival, he has successfully worked with our Mesa Vista Equestrians bringing home many Champion and Reserve Championships.

Sophie Girandeau, Beginner and Advanced Beginner

Started her riding career at the age of 7. She has done well showing in multiple disciplines and credits her excellent riding skills to the guidance of Gail and Helen Thompson, the orginial Swift Creek Riding Academy program. She has an excellent program for beginners and advanced beginners.

Louis Quarrles, Farrier

Louis is our farrier, bringing over 30 years of experience.