Foothills Veterinarians

Donovan DagnerDVM, managing partner of Blue Ridge Equine Clinic, grew up on a training farm in New Jersey where he gained an appreciation for horses and the people who work with them. He graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1995 and completed an internship at Apex Veterinary Hospital in North Carolina before joining Blue Ridge Equine Clinic in 1996.

His current interests include dentistry, lameness and reproductive services, such as embryo transfer. He provides these services as well as all routine health care to the clients of Blue Ridge Equine Clinic at their farms as well as at the clinic. His wife Anne is also a veterinarian. They live in Crozet with their daughters, Cecelia and Calla. They all enjoy hiking and camping as well as any excuse to go to the beach.

Steve Trostle, DVM, ACVS, ACVSMR was born and raised on a dairy and livestock farm in York, Pennsylvania. He received his DVM from the University of Tennessee in 1990 and completed a surgical residency at the University of Wisconsin achieving his board certification in surgery in 1996, and Diplomate status in the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (Equine) in 2013.  After a year as a Clinical Instructor in surgery and nuclear medicine at the Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center, he returned to Wisconsin to assume a faculty position at the veterinary teaching hospital in 1995.

In 2001 he decided to leave academia and joined the San Diego-based referral practice, San Luis Rey Equine Hospital. In 2004 he returned to the East Coast to join the staff at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic. Steve served on the Board of Directors for the AAEP from 2012 – 2014 and currently sits on various committees and sub-committees. For ACVSMR,  Dr. Trostle has served on the Examination Committee (2013-2018) and also sit on the Board of Directors (2018-2022).  He and his wife Cheryl, a small animal veterinarian, live in Earlysville with their son, Justin, and their daughter, Kelsey. He enjoys sports and the family likes all forms of outdoor activities.

Kelly Giunta, VMD, DACVSMR is originally from southern New Jersey where she grew up riding hunters and jumpers. Prior to attending veterinary school, she obtained a Master’s degree in Genetics and performed biomedical research. Her passion for horses led her to pursue a veterinary degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, she completed an internship at Southwest Equine Medical and Surgical Center in Scottsdale, AZ. Next, she joined Equine Sports Medicine in Texas, where she focused on sports medicine and lameness and followed the AQHA and NRHA circuits as a horse show veterinarian. She joined Blue Ridge Equine Clinic in 2010. In 2021 Dr. Kelly Giunta received her Diplomate in Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (equine) from the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Giunta’s professional interests include lameness, sports medicine, and diagnostic imaging. She also practices acupuncture and completed her training at the Chi Institute in Florida. Her personal interests include travel, hiking, foxhunting and eventing.

Susanna Charland, DVM grew up in Sunshine, Louisiana and was always surrounded by animals. She attended UVA for her undergraduate degree and enjoyed riding and competing her horse Hank in the area during that time. She received her veterinary degree from Ross University and completed her clinical year at UC Davis. Following school she completed an equine internship at Ocean State Equine Associates in Rhode Island before joining the team at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic.

Her professional interests include emergency work, preventative medicine, and reproduction. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband Lucien and her dog Beast, doing anything outdoors and cooking.

Valley Veterinarians

Marissa Bennett, DVM, grew up on a small family farm in Northern New Hampshire. She spent her time showing her All-Around pleasure horse on the APHA circuit. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science at the University of Findlay in Ohio and then moved to Alabama for veterinary school. After obtaining her DVM from Auburn University in 2018, she traveled to Washington to complete a year-long equine internship at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Bennett has special interests in reproduction, sports medicine, and general preventative medicine. Both Dr. Bennett and her husband are outdoor enthusiasts and are excited to explore all that the Valley has to offer.

Julia Hecking, DVM, CVA,  is originally from Richmond, VA but has lived and worked in the Valley for many years at a busy breeding farm. She completed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech and then received her DVM from the University of Minnesota. After graduation she completed an equine internship at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic. After finishing her internship, she was thrilled to come work in the valley and is currently working part time  She enjoys working on a variety of breeds and disciplines of all different levels.

Her special interests include reproductive work, lameness/sports medicine, dentistry and preventative medicine. She is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and completed her training at the Chi Institute in Florida,  a member of both the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the Virginia Association of Equine Practitioners, and an FEI Eventing Official Veterinarian. Dr. Hecking lives in Lexington, and in her free time she enjoys foxhunting and working cattle, along with anything outdoors.


Dr. Raechelle Dietsch, DVM grew up south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She discovered her love of horses at a young age, growing up riding and competing through 4-H and Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), on the hunt seat team. Raechelle has a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Animal Science from Delaware Valley University.  After graduation, she attended the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. While in veterinary school, Raechelle served as President of the student chapter of American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). Raechelle’s veterinary interests include internal medicine, sports medicine, and preventative medicine. In her free time, Raechelle enjoys spending time and riding her horses, Que and Misfit, whom she has had since she was a child. She also enjoys spending time with her German Shepherd, Kai.  Raechelle is looking forward to living in Virginia and is very excited to be a part of the Blue Ridge Equine Clinic team!

Dr. Megan Gallagher grew up in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. At an early age, Megan discovered her love of horses and veterinary medicine. She learned to ride Saddleseat at 10 years old and competed through high school. Megan is now pursuing a future in low level Dressage. Megan has a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Animal Science from NC State. After graduation, she stayed in Raleigh and attended the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine with a focus in equine medicine. While in veterinary school, Megan served as Large Animal President of the Surgery Club and secretary of the Student Chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Megan‘s veterinary interests include surgery, ophthalmology, and sports medicine. In her free time, Megan enjoys riding and training her horse Legacy or taking a drive in her Mustang.  Megan is looking forward to living in Earlysville and is very excited to be a part of the Blue Ridge Equine Clinic team!

Licensed Veterinary Technicians

Malorie Kemmerer, LVT began riding at the age of 5, worked on an Arabian farm through high school, and worked for a hunter/jumper operation during college, at which time she retired her Arabian mare from competitive riding.  She graduated in ’08 from BRCC with an Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology, and began working at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic that year.  She enjoys everything about Veterinary medicine, but mostly helping the hard-working horses.  Her favorite thing about work is experiencing firsthand the bond between a good horse and a good owner, and also getting to be part of some pretty miraculous medical and surgical interventions.  Malorie’s hobbies include running, camping, sailing, waterskiing, and spending time with her husband and family.

Anne Merritt, LVT grew up in Indiana, just south of Indianapolis. Riding sporadically as a kid, she was always animal crazy. This eventually led her to Purdue University to pursue a degree in Animal Sciences. It was at Purdue that she started riding regularly with the equestrian team and then the Polo club, as well as working for local barns. She found a new passion in eventing, and dabbled around in it when possible. Following graduation, she worked with Ossabaw Swine at a research facility in northwestern Indiana. After several years, she made the decision to go back to school for her veterinary technology degree. It was at the end of her schooling that she heard of Blue Ridge Equine Clinic, and was luckily accepted to do her externship here. She fell in love with the area, making the decision to move to Virginia after graduation. Anne worked in northern Virginia for a year before a position became available in the Valley division of BREC. She was very lucky to be able to balance work with riding, and thoroughly enjoyed getting out in to the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley with the wonderful vets she worked with. She now works in the Earlysville hospital and loves hiking with her dog.

Kenzie Smith, LVT

Kenzie Williams, LVT grew up on the south shore of Massachusetts where she was a working student at a dressage barn. In 2011 she moved to Denver, CO. for some new scenery and enrolled in the vet tech. program at Bel-rea Institute of Veterinary Technology in 2013. She completed her technical internship at the Littleton Equine Medical Center in Littleton, CO and graduated in 2015. She moved to Virginia and started at BREC in 2016. She enjoys making farm calls in the beautiful Charlottesville area and caring for patients at the clinic. Outside of work Kenzie enjoys hiking, cooking and hanging out at home with her dogs Romey and Zissou.

Veterinary Assistants

April Truxell was raised in a very small town called Doe Hill, barely within the Virginia line. She was fortunate to begin riding when she was eight years old at Rocking A Ranch, 3 miles from her home. There, she learned to start young horses and engaged in working cattle on horseback for ten years. After graduation, she completed basic training in the Virginia Army National Guard, then studied Business Management at Blue Ridge Community College. In 2006, she began an eight year stint as Head Trainer at Cedar Creek Stables in Staunton, where she started countless young horses, and managed broodmares and stallions. Her employment there was briefly interrupted when she was deployed to Iraq as a truck driver. She’s been fortunate to work with great trainers such as Allison Brock, Matt McGlaughlin, Jim Kofford, Scott Hassler and Peter Atkins. April has trained horses up to Fourth Level, competed through PSG, and presented many mares and stallions for  inspections and performance tests. After 20 years of starting horses, she made the much needed decision to step down from training young horses and join the BREC team.

Cheyenne Ferrier, Veterinary Assistant and Social Media Coordinator 

Cheyenne grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and has spent her entire life being a crazy horse girl! Growing up Cheyenne spent as much time as possible riding with her aunts, she continued working with horses while away at college at Radford University where she volunteered at a local horse rescue where she fed and helped take care of over 20 horses. After returning home from Radford, Cheyenne took veterinary assistant courses at Blue Ridge Community College and eventually took the position as a receptionist at the Earlysville Main Hospital. After spending a year at the Main Office, Cheyenne accepted the position as a Veterinary Assistant for the Valley Division. She also currently attends Purdue University and is on course to become a Licensed Veterinary Nurse. When Cheyenne is not working or doing school work, she is at the barn with her Chincoteague pony, Pia, or hanging out with her 3 dogs.

Felicia Shifflett, Veterinary Assistant

Office Staff

Alice Phinizy, Office Manager

Dana Kline, Front Desk/ Office Support

Dana grew up in the valley on a small family farm in Folks Run, Virginia. In 1995 Dana purchased her first horse, Cimmie, who she still has today, along with her other older horse, Hoop Shooter.  She spent many years trail riding and pleasure riding both horses.

Dana started working at Blue Ridge Equine in 2001 as a hospital barn assistant. Throughout her years at BREC, Dana has been a veterinary assistant, pharmacy technician, and is now currently a front desk receptionist. She now lives in Crozet with her husband, 3- legged dog, Joe Bird, Moluccan Cockatoo, Louie, and cat, Koonie.

Brooke Sigrist, Front Desk/ Office support

Sandy Whorley, Front Desk/ Office Support


Sabino DeDios, Facilities Manager