Hope Haven is a specialized equestrian centre offering adaptive riding and horsemanship as well as therapy programs for individuals who have intellectual, physical, social and/or emotional challenges.
We connect horses and individuals with challenges to improve physical, emotional and cognitive health in a positive and safe learning environment.
Our equine and therapeutic programs enrich the lives of our participants, their families and our volunteers in a community of hope and healing.
We have a passion for results.
We promote teamwork.
We celebrate fun.
We are committed to safety.
We are committed to the well-being of our horses.
We are accountable to our participants, families, and donors.
We strive to help and improve the communities where we work and live.
We promote wheelchair accessibility.
Hope Haven is a special place where individuals of all abilities can explore their potential in an encouraging, safe and professional environment.
Meet the Team
Benoit Dube | Executive Director
Benoit’s love of horses and a desire to give back lead him to join Hope Haven as a volunteer in the Spring of 2017. Seeing firsthand the benefits of Hope Haven’s Therapeutic Riding Program he was driven to contribute further by joining the Board of Directors in November 2017.
In May 2018, he was honoured to be named Executive Director where his abilities honed over 25 years in the corporate world leading initiatives through project management & strategic planning supported by solid financial acumen will help grow and sustain the success of Hope Haven.
Benoit lives with his wife Michelle, Indy their Great Dane and cat in the wonderful town of Meaford.
Barb Sheperd | Development Officer
Barb was delighted to join the Hope Haven Board in April 2016 and has now stepped into the role of Development Officer. After 16 years of leading the charge as Chief Marketing Officer for law firms, Barb now combines her decades of business, marketing and coaching experience with her lifelong passion for horses and equine therapy to help enrich the lives of people with challenges.
When she’s not building fund raising campaigns, Barb can be found riding the trails with her handsome Tennessee Walkers, Archer and Kit or hiking with her Great Dane Oliver.
Robyn Allen | Program Manager & Physiotherapist
Originally from London, Robyn grew up riding horses competitively in Hunter-Jumper until she attended McMaster University, obtaining degrees in both Kinesiology and Physiotherapy. Robyn currently resides in the Georgian Bay area with her husband and three boys and enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle with her 2 dogs Rosko and Ruby.
Robyn started at Hope Haven as a volunteer and consulting Physiotherapist. She went on to receive her certificate in Hippotherapy and then proceeded to come on board as our Program Manager. She is enjoying being able to wear both her Physiotherapist and Program Manager hats as she helps to Make Hope Happen! Outside of Hope Haven, Robyn is one of 6 National Para Equestrian Classifiers in the disciplines of Para Dressage and Para Driving.
Emma Houser | Volunteer Coordinator & Instructor (PATH Intl. CTRI)
Growing up in Lion's Head, Emma had a passion for horses from a young age. After graduating with a degree in Equine Management from the University of Guelph, Emma went on to an administrative role at a local tractor dealership where she continued to increase her knowledge of the agricultural industry.
Emma has always had a passion for working with people (and animals)! She has previously worked at African Lion Safari as a tour guide and has volunteered her time in adaptive riding in the past.
volunteer until her school's placement with us in winter 2020. After graduating from her Therapeutic
Recreation program December 2020 she was quickly hired on to the Hope Haven Team.
Shannon also enjoys all kinds of outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, kayaking and hunting. She
has always loved working with individuals and animals ever since she was younger. When she is not at
Hope snuggling with the horses and engaging with staff and volunteers you can find her with her millions
of rabbits, chickens, turkeys, dogs and cats at her home in the Hopeville area.
Ann-Ida Beck | CanTRA Senior Instructor (CTRSI) & PATH Intl. CTRI
Ann-Ida Beck is a certified Canadian Therapeutic Riding Senior Instructor and brings her amazing experience and attention to detail to her role. Her love of horses and equine activity guided her to therapeutic riding in the early 90’s. Her commitment to the riders and nurturing their development and success is what keeps her coming back.
Ann-Ida also enjoys cross-country skiing and hiking the picturesque trails of our community, but she is best known for her amazing artistic abilities and a keen eye for colour. She and her husband Richard are an amazing team at Hope Haven on Saturdays, but when not grooming and navigating horses together, they can be found gliding gracefully in one another’s arms on the ballroom floor.
Gillian MacNeill | CanTRA Intermediate Instructor (CTRII) & PATH Intl. CTRI
Gillian an Intermediate Instructor, certified through the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association was raised in Scotland where she learned to ride and develop her skill. Following high school, she completed her British Horse Instructor /Masters Program and worked at an Eventing/Hunter facility in Scotland before moving to the London, Ontario area.
Gillian attributes her current riding style and ability to her long-time mentor and coach Rennie Zimmer, who passed on his skills from the well-known Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Under Rennie’s tutelage, Gillian learned to train and school horse to compete at a basic Dressage level.
After raising her three children with her husband, she started volunteering at a Therapeutic riding facility and in 2011 achieved her CTR Intermediate Instructor certificate.
Danielle Rose | Horse Manager & Instructor (PATH Intl. CTRI)
Danielle has been involved in the equine industry since 2010 and has enjoyed every minute of it! She started out at pony camp but quickly realized her passion for horses and that the barn was where she belonged. She has spent many years working as a stable hand, working student, and has even started her own equine grooming and exercising business. As a 2021 graduate of the BBRM Equine Management program at the University of Guelph, Danielle is now focusing on training horses and helping others enjoy them as much as she does through coaching.
When she isn’t riding and teaching at Hope Haven, Danielle can be found riding her own horse, O’Malley, who she is currently training 3rd level dressage and hopes to take to the Grand Prix level!
Gretel Stanish | Property and Barn Manager
Anita Moldovanyi | Barn & Property Assistant
Anita grew up in and around the GTA but has always known one day she’d be a country girl. Anita started volunteering at Hope Haven in 2014 which evolved into a part-time job as a Barn and Property Assistant.
Anita inherited her love for horses from her father who was a horse trainer in the Canadian Military. He encouraged and supported Anita in all her equine adventures. She started riding at a young age, stopped for a few years when life in general interrupted and now is getting back into the swing of things. She began studying wild horses in Nevada with equine biologist Craig Downer and continued her equine studies under Dr. Leonard Blach in New Mexico before returning to Canada.
When not at Hope Haven, Anita can be found on her own farm pampering her own horses including one of Hope Haven’s retired equine friend, Cutter. He is in good hands.
Hope Haven has over 70 amazing volunteers that help keep our programs running smoothly. Each volunteer brings their unique background and talents which contributes to our team. Our volunteers help groom the horses, prepare them for lessons, lead and side-walk during lessons, and exercise our herd. They also help with assisted activities and general maintenance around Hope Haven. Hope Haven is very thankful to have such amazing volunteers.
Pam Kinzie | Chair
Pam answered a small ad in a local paper soliciting volunteers for Hope Haven about four years ago and has never looked back. She joined the Board of Directors at Hope Haven in 2013.
Pam has extensive experience on volunteer boards, serving on the Collingwood General Marine Hospital where she chaired the Governance and Quality Committee and Georgian College, as Chair of the Board. She also served on the Boards of Georgian College Foundation, the Muskoka Lakes Golf and Country Club and the Bent River Road Land Corporation.
Currently, Pam is the Principal of Firstbrook Strategies; a consulting firm that specializes in organizational evaluation, project management and consumer service in community health and social service organizations. She resides in the Pretty River Valley, Grey Highlands with her husband, a black labrador and a barn cat.
Ann Jackson CFA, MBA | Director
Ann is a University of Western Ontario graduate and the Founding Partner of Jackson/Martin Reimagine Investments. She worked in the investment management business for 30 years as a financial analyst and sales professional and as a portfolio manager at Phillips, Hager & North Investment Management. As a portfolio manager, she specialized in providing a unique client service model to non-profit/charitable clients.
Ann has served on several Boards and advisory and investment committees. She is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Director’s Governance Essentials Program for Not-for-profit Organizations in Rotman.
In her spare time, Ann enjoys traveling and the odd round of golf.
Mary Thomas | Director
After having grown up on a farm and riding as a youth, Mary was thrilled to become a volunteer with Hope Haven. Initially engaged with the riders and horses, and more recently as a member of the board.
After early success in the technology sector, she decided to follow her heart and employ her sales and management skills in the charitable sector. Now, with more than a decade of volunteering and work experience at some of Ontario’s largest public and non-profit organizations. Mary enjoys traveling and spending as much time as possible in nature.
Dawn McConnell | Director
Dawn has recently retired from her law practice in Toronto where she specialized in the fields of civil litigation and employment law for over 35 years. She was a Partner with the law firm of Day, Wilson Campbell and later started her own law practice in association with other employment law specialists.
Riding has been a special pastime, as well as her involvement over the years with her daughter’s show jumping events and the family horses. She also enjoyed competing
in the Adult Hunter class in Palgrave. As a new Board member, Dawn looks forward to supporting the Centre’s inspiring work.
Peter Heinke | Director
Currently with Heinke Consulting Inc, Peter has served as a consultant, advisor and C-level executive for a myriad of businesses, in the start-up phase through to maturation in both the tech and non-tech sectors. With his diverse experience in industries ranging from finance, healthcare, aviation and technology, Peter is esteemed for his strategical approach to business development and leadership. He has successfully aided numerous companies in the transformation of raw entrepreneurial ideas into strategic business plans - all the way from inception to execution through project development, financing and finally successful implementation with his most recent initiative reaching unicorn status.
Peter holds an HBA from Wilfred Laurier University in Finance and Business and obtained his CA with KPMG. He just recently completed an online program in the Said Business School at the University of Oxford for Strategic Frameworks for the Blockchain.
Peter has a farm in the Blue Mountains and his daughter is an equestrian competing in the 1.3m jumper division.
Solo is our newest addition. He is a 5 year old registered paint horse. He has a heart of gold with the patience and wisdom of an older horse. He was originally trained to event but has since adapted to his new job as an adaptive riding horse.
Blizzard is a 12 year old quarterhorse with a loving personality. She arrived at Hope Haven in October of 2019 and quickly became a favourite for many or our riders. She is an experienced and very reliable schooling horse with beautiful movement which she brings to our ridership here at Hope.
Arwen is a 16 year old quarter horse who used to be a drill riding horse. She competed at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in her younger years. She arrived at HH the summer of 2017 and quickly proved to be an amazing teacher and reliable school horse.
Kit is a 15.2 hand, 17 year old Tenessee Walker. He has spent his days trail riding in the western mountains, doing overnight trips in the Rockies. He is owned by our very own Barb Sheperd who has graciously donated the use of Kit for Hope Haven programming. Kit is a big, gentle guy who is extremely comfortable to ride and does a remarkable job with taking care of his riders.
Gaben is a 9 year old, 14.2 hand Norwegian Fjord. He is our peferct horse for beginners, balanced, smooth and sweet disposition. He also struts his stuff in Para-dressage video competitions for some of our more advanced riders.
Taylor is a 9 year old, 14.2 hand Norwegian Fjord who is full of personality. She is curious, playfull and fiesty yet knows when it's time to work she puts on her best show will take care of her rider up on her back.
Lilly is a beautiful and sociable bay quarter horse with a calm disposition, making her very popular with our riders and school groups.
Abe is an 11 year old Norwegian Fjord and social butterfly! He is eager to learn and has a sweet disposition.
"Midnight in Paris" is a 15.3 hand, 12 year old Thoroughbred Hanovarian cross. Paris is an elegant mover just like her name implies. She is the sweetest, most loveable creature that will do anything to please her human friends.
It's not hard to miss our 18.3 hand Clydesdale "Bob the Builder", who was graciously donated by the Thornbury Builders and Trades Association in 2020. At only 6 years old, Bob is truly the gentle giant of Hope Haven and will be with our program for many years to come!
Gigi came to us in the Spring of 2015 and is a beautiful (and she knows it), copper-coloured Haflinger/ Draft cross with a white mane and tail. Approximately 13 years old.
Princess is our princess! Like her brother Fred, she is also a Norwegian Fjord. She has a lovely gait making her ideal for our hippo therapy and adaptive programs.
Our wonderful, steadfast Fred is a Norwegian Fjord, stands 14.3 hh and is in his mid 20s. Due to his age, he has retired from our riding programs and is used primarily for our horsemanship programs.
George is a 14 year old hackney cross pony and the newest member of our team. He arrived at Hope Haven at the end of January 2021 and was instantly noticed for his silly, outgoing personality and for his size in comparison to the others. George loves to trot and he can even do small jumps with his riders. He used to pull a cart early on, but has spent most of his career teaching individuals to ride.
Red is our therapy cat at Hope Haven. We call him "the boss" and you can usually find him socializing with clients and supervising the staff. He also sleeps a lot.
Located on 142 acres of beautiful farmland, Hope Haven is situated on the top of Beaver Valley, just northeast of Markdale Ontario.
Hope Haven includes two barns containing eighteen box stalls and thirteen paddocks for our fabulous herd of horses. We have an indoor riding arena with a fully accessible bathroom that permits our programs to occur year round. Our beautiful outdoor dressage ring as well as our extensive trails through our feilds and forests are enjoyed in the warmer months and allow participants to take in the picturesque surroundings of Hope Haven. Our office and spacious activity centre are located in an adjacent building which houses our second fully accessible bathroom.
Benoit Dube - Executive Director
Barb Sheperd - Development Officer
Robyn Allen - Program Manager & Physiotherapist
Brooke North - Interim Volunteer Coordinator
Emma Houser - Volunteer Coordinator & Instructor (PATH Int. CTRI)
Danielle Rose - Equine Manager & Instructor (PATH Int. CTRI)
Ann-Ida Beck - Instructor (CanTRA CTRSI, PATH Int. CTRI)
Gillian MacNeill - Instructor (CanTRA CTRII, PATH Int. CTRI)
Shannon Speer - Recreation Therapist
Gretel Stanish - Property & Barn Manager