Meet Our Team


 Learn More About Our Professional Staff


Horse Powered Reading sessions at Cross P Ranch are based on the EAGALA model of equine assisted learning. Please see our About Horse Powered Reading page to learn more. 

Using EAGALA model Horse Powered Reading, both a registered credentialed Mental Health Professional and a certified Equine Specialist work collaboratively at all times to assure clients get the therapeutic attention and support they need. 


Michele Pickel, Ph.D.

HPR Founder, Equine Specialist 



  •  Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • MN Licensed PreK-8 Teacher and K-12 Reading Specialist
  • Early Childhood and Elementary School Classroom Teaching Experience
  • EAGALA Equine Specialist Advanced Certification (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association)

Michele Pickel, Ph.D. created EAGALA Model Horse Powered Reading Instruction in 2012, as an experiential strategy to help struggling readers not only learn missing reading skills, but also to assist them in overcoming the social-emotional challenges interfering with their learning. 

Dr. Pickel is an Associate Professor at Concordia University, St Paul, MN.  Her specialty is literacy education.  She has experience teaching in early childhood and elementary schools and is a licensed PreK-8 teacher and K-12 Reading Specialist.  Dr. Pickel holds Advanced Certification as an Equine Specialist through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).

Due to the success of Horse Powered Reading, and hoping to change the lives of children across the nation, she developed an online class to teach other Mental Health Professionals, Equine Specialists, and Educators who would like to learn how to use Horse Powered Reading to help their clients and students.

Horse Powered Reading
is not just a Program

who struggle every day

Who we have the POWER to help,
the POWER to make their life easier,
and to make it more HOPE filled!
— Michele Pickel, PhD

Sally A. Baas, Ed.D.

Mental Health Specialist



  • Professor at Concordia University, St Paul, Minnesota
  • Directs the Southeast Asian Teacher, Hmong Culture and Language, and English as a Second Language Programs at Concordia University, St Paul, Minnesota
  • Has worked in cross-cultural Preschool-12th grade settings
  • Past President of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
  • EAGALA Certified Mental Health Professional (Equine Growth and Learning Association) 
  • Advanced Trainer for the Nurtured Heart Approach®

Sally Bass, Ed.D. is a licensed school psychologist who has spent many of her professional years working cross culturally in Preschool-12th grade settings.  She is past president of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Her areas of expertise include:

  • cross cultural models
  • child and adolescent development
  • social emotional learning
  • children’s mental health
  • crisis response
  •  leadership
  • advocacy
  • training

She is certified in the EAGALA Model and serves as Dr. Pickel’s Mental Health Professional for Horse Powered Reading Sessions. 

gives children
a chance to
what they are
— Fred Rogers

"Cowboy Steve" Pickel

Lead Wrangler And Chuckwagon Dinner Chef



  • Director of Christian Education 
  • Member of National Versatility Ranch Horse Association
  • Our Ranch Roping Specialist
  • Owner/Operator of Cross P Ranch

"Cowboy Steve" and Dr. Michele Pickel, fell in love and married while they were students at Concordia University located in St. Paul, Minnesota.  After graduation, Steve served for 23 years as a Director of Christian Education serving several states.  Eventually, the couple moved back to Minnesota.

Steve now works as a Financial Advisor for Thrivent.  Throughout their marriage, horses have always been an important part of their life and ministry.

"Cowboy Steve" enjoys teaching children how to use a lariat to rope steers during Wild West Field Trips at Cross P Ranch.  He also has an authentic chuck-wagon, where he delights in serving hearty cowboy meals for equine facilitated retreats, gatherings, and leadership training events.

Solutions to problems often come from knowing when to ask for help.
— Buck Brannaman

Do You Have Questions?

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