The Horse Portal Team

Instructors – Equine Guelph

Gayle Ecker – Gayle is the Director of Equine Guelph and played an instrumental role in its birth and ongoing development as a Centre for the horse owner at the University of Guelph. She has dedicated her energies to advancing the equine industry through education and communications on health, welfare and safety. Gayle continues working on a ‘pyramid of education’ model – an educational approach that provides learning pathways for career development at all levels (youth education > industry skills > Equine Science Certificate and Diploma >leading to higher education) in the equine industry. In collaboration with the Office of Open Learning, Gayle developed the Equine Studies program targeted to the equine industry to provide over 20 online courses that can be combined for Business, Science and Welfare Certificates or an Equine Studies Diploma. Gayle is the Course Instructor for: Horse Care & Welfare, and Gut Health & Colic Prevention.

Susan Raymond – Since 2003 (Equine Guelph), Susan has been involved in the development and delivery, both online and in-person, of educational and skills training programs. The focus of these programs is to improve welfare and safety of both animals and people on the farm during day to day activities and emergency situations. Susan’s PhD research involved investigating the effects of exposure of horses to mycotoxins, as well as, examining stable design and management as they affect air quality. Susan has completed Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Operations, Rescue Ropes/Rigging courses and Animal Technical Rescue Awareness Level Course (University of Florida). Susan has also completed Colorado State University – Equine Investigations Academy Level 1.  Susan is the Course Instructor for: Fire & Emergency Preparedness, Horse Behaviour & Safety, and Sickness Prevention in Horses.

Jackie Zions – Jackie is a certified Equestrian Canada Dressage judge and a competition coach specializing in eventing. She is also the communications manager at Equine Guelph – writing for equestrian magazines as well as coordinating special events. Jackie came by her passion for horses at the young age of nine – much to the surprise of her ‘non-horsey’ family. That love of horses has been a driving force taking her all over the globe in varied capacities, including: teacher, trainer, stable manager and competitor. Jackie brings over 25 years of experience in the horse industry and is passionate about educating our youth about horse behaviour, using common sense and staying safe.  Jackie is the Course Instructor for: Horse Behaviour & Safety (Youth Course).


Administration and Development

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Matt-photo.jpgMatt Houlahan – Matt is the Administrator of The Horse Portal, and is a trained educator with experience in online education and knowledge transfer using advanced computer technology. Matt’s role is to assist instructors with course development and learning materials, and provide technical support for prospective and current students on The Horse Portal.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 120509DLP_171-1024x683.jpgHenrietta Coole – Henrietta Coole has 25+ years of agency-level experience in marketing and communications specializing in agriculture and the equine industry. Henrietta grew up in the harness racing industry (her father was an owner/trainer), currently owns a Standardbred horse and acted as Customer Service Coordinator at the Ontario Jockey Club, overseeing programs at Woodbine, Greenwood, Mohawk and Fort Erie. Over the years, Equine Guelph has contracted Henrietta Coole Enterprises as a consultant for specialized skills in project management and corporate sponsorship within the equine industry.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 120509DLP_232-1024x683.jpgDavid Finlay – David is the Media Content Developer at Equine Guelph. He assists in design and production of The Horse Portal’s visual and interactive components. David has broad-based experience in the area of online and offline delivery with a specialization in video production and digital presentation.

Guest Instructors

Laura FrostLaura Frost  – Laura Frost, partner Halton Equine Veterinary Services, is a graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College class of 1999 and is certified in Equine Chiropractic. Dr. Frost was born and raised in the Burlington area and has competed locally in a variety of equestrian disciplines. She is a past Dental Committee member for the American Association of Equine Practitioners and Dr. Frost was previously on the Advisory Committee for the Ontario Veterinary College and Secretary for the Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners. Laura is also the past Vice President of the Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre and can be seen at many fundraisers for this organization.  Laura is a Guest Instructor for: Equine First Aid.

Kristen FrederickKristen Frederick – Kristen earned a B.Sc in biological anthropology from the University of Toronto in 2008, and a DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2017. Kristen completed a 12-month internship in equine surgery & anesthesia at Milton Equine Hospital before joining Hagersville Veterinary Services as a small animal practitioner in June, 2018. Kristen is currently working at the Oakville and Southdown Animal Clinics. Kristen’s professional interests include anesthesia, diagnostic imaging, emergency medicine and preventive healthcare.  Kristen is a Guest Instructor for: Equine First Aid.

Janet Beeler-MarfisiJanet Beeler-Marfisi – Janet is a researcher, assistant professor and a diagnostic Clinical Pathologist at the Ontario Veterinary College. Her research is on equine lung disease including mild equine asthma (fka inflammatory airway disease) and exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. She’s particularly interested in the role of air pollution (smog) in causing these diseases, as well as unravelling the relationship between barn dusts and lung inflammation. Dr. Beeler-Marfisi has always had an interest in horse health, having grown up around her father’s Standardbreds and having married a Standardbred racehorse trainer.  Janet is a Guest Instructor for: Racehorse Respiratory Health.

Darryl Bonder –  Darryl graduated with honours in 1977 from the DVM program at the Ontario Veterinary College, and was the recipient of the Fowler award for highest proficiency in equine medicine and surgery.  He is a past president of the Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners (OAEP) and a member of the Federal Drug Advisory Committee to Racetracks Canada. Dr. Bonder has a longstanding commitment to equine welfare through his continued association with the Long Run Program. He has constantly striven to expand his knowledge base by completing certificates in internal fixation, arthroscopic surgery and nuclear medicine.  Darryl is a Guest Instructor for: Lameness/Injury Prevention and Care

Melissa McKee is a founding partner of McKee-Pownall Equine services. Before attending the Ontario Veterinary college she was an international level three-day event rider, worked in a saddlery, and apprenticed with a farrier. She discovered a love of the Standardbred athlete while attending veterinary school. After working as a veterinarian in New Jersey and Alberta, Dr McKee returned to Ontario in 2002 and now focuses on helping race and performance horses reach their potential. Her interests include lameness, diagnostic imaging, MRI, spinal manipulation, and sports medicine.  Melissa is a Guest Instructor for: Racehorse Respiratory Health



Nicole Weidner – Nicole is a PhD candidate at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. Nicole’s MSc and PhD work have focused on animal nutrition, with a focus on links between nutrition and disease. She has been fortunate enough to be mentored by board certified veterinary and PhD animal nutritionists during her time at the University. Nicole is also interested in education. She has experience as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer with courses offered by the University, and has taken several certificate programs centered around developing an understanding of various educational strategies and approaches. Nicole is the Course Instructor for: Gut Health and Colic Prevention.


Guest Experts and Course Contributors

Orlaith Cleary graduated with a veterinary degree from University College Dublin, Ireland, in June 2003. She then completed a Large Animal Medicine and Surgery internship at the University of Georgia, followed by an Equine Medicine and Surgery internship at the Equine Medical Center of Ocala, Florida. She moved to Ontario to join the teams at Milton Equine Hospital and Allen Equine services in July 2010. From 2017-2018 she worked doing elective and emergency large animal surgery at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She joined the Ontario Equine Hospital team in April 2019. Dr. Cleary’s special interests are in advanced imaging (MRI, CT, scintigraphy), as well as all aspects of soft tissue and orthopedic surgery.

Kyle Goldie

Kyle Goldie is a veterinarian with McKee-Pownall Equine Services. As an undergraduate student, Kyle worked in the Comparative Orthopedic Research Lab at the University of Guelph, studying the factors that contribute to catastrophic breakdown of racing horses.
Kyle graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2011, and he has been working in equine ambulatory practice since.While Kyle is enthusiastic and passionate about all areas of equine medicine, his practice interests thus far have focused on lameness, racing, dentistry, reproduction, and preventative medicine. 

Patricia Hogan has turned a lifetime love for horses into a successful career as an equine surgeon attending to some of the most valuable Standardbred and Thoroughbred racehorses in the country. Dr. Hogan is originally from New Jersey and obtained her veterinary education at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1992. After an internship at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and a 3-year surgical residency at Texas A&M University, Dr Hogan returned home to New Jersey to practice.  The majority of her patients are referred for fracture repair, arthroscopy, or upper airway surgery. Although the bulk of her caseload consists of Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses, some of her most memorable patients have never set foot on a racetrack and are just as valuable.

Rebecca Husted, a volunteer firefighter in Gray, GA, is doing R&D work with University of Edinburgh (UK), EKU (KY) and several veterinary schools. An internationally sought speaker and instructor, she edited the only textbook available to the fire service and veterinarians on technical rescue of large animals. Rebecca holds a BS (Wofford College) and PhD (Clemson University).  Current scientific research interests include a national survey of trailer accident causality and a study of physiological responses to Technical Rescue procedures and equipment in large animals. A past Logistics Officer for FEMA’s Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT -2), decorated combat veteran and a Major in the US Army Reserves, she is active in various organizations related to disaster preparedness.

Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the “Performance Electrolyte Research” team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on “Applied Nutrition” for the authoritative veterinary textbook: “Equine Internal Medicine”, 2nd edition.  Don is now retired after 35 years of helping owners, trainers and veterinarians understand their feeds and feeding, to improve the health and welfare of their horses.

Mike King

Mike King  – Mike has been a leader in the equine insurance business for more than 25 years’ operating from his offices in Aurora Ontario. Mike is a Partner in CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd., a national brokerage. Mike has been involved in the horse industry for most of his life having participated at one point or another as horse owner, pleasure and competition rider, coach, judge, and facility manager. Today, various insurance programs under his management and oversight serve over 80,000 equine enthusiasts from coast-to-coast.  As a specialist, Mike is regularly invited to speak to groups on topics related to risk management and insurance in the equine industry across Canada. Mike participates as a guest instructor twice a year in the Equine Business Management certificate course at the University of Guelph to share his insights with an International student body and is proud to be a long standing Education Patron at Equine Guelph.

Troy Moffatt started his policing career in 1994. In 1999 Troy attended Texas A & M and was later certified as a Fire and Arson Investigator. He is currently a South West Oxford (SWOX) Fire Fighter and Fire Instructor. Troy has been involved with numerous Investigations over the years including barn fires that have resulted in large losses of horse lives and has been a guest speaker in both Canada and the USA regarding Investigations and Barn Fires.   In 2017 Troy attended both the Fire Prevention and Emergency Rescue Training for the horse racing industry as well as the Operations Level Large Animal Rescue Course for Fire Fighters offered by Equine Guelph.

Alison Moore is a veterinary specialist from Cambridge, Ontario who holds double Board Certification in both Equine Internal Medicine and Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. She has been involved in the performance horse industry since a young age and has been active in the Standardbred racehorse industry as an owner, breeder and veterinarian. Over the last 14 years she developed a specialty practice that focused on performance problems in racehorses and sport horses. Over the years, she has been appointed to a number of provincial and national equine working groups, task forces, Boards and committees concerning equine veterinary issues and has been committed to ensuring that practising veterinarians remain at the forefront of regulatory decisions regarding the health and welfare of horses. Recently, she joined the Animal Health and Welfare Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture where she continues to provide veterinary expertise to the Province.

Jessica Peatling – After graduating from the Science and Business program at the University of Waterloo, Dr. Peatling completed the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the Ontario Veterinary College in 2009. She then travelled to Lexington, Kentucky to pursue an internship at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Following her internship, she joined the Toronto Equine Hospital in 2010 where she worked with thoroughbred racehorses on the grounds of Woodbine Racetrack. Dr. Peatling has also completed her certification in equine chiropractic. Professionally, she is a member of the Disease Surveillance Team of the Ontario Animal Health Network (OAHN), and has served on the Executive Board of the Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners (OAEP) in the past. Dr. Peatling has mentored a number of students in the past, which is one of her most fulfilling accomplishments.      

Dr. Jeff Thomason

Jeff Thomason is well-known for his ability to bring anatomy to life. Dr. Thomason teaches anatomy to veterinary students as Professor at the Ontario Veterinary College.   Dr. Thomason is a researcher conducting internationally recognized research on the equine hoof, and teaches veterinary anatomy to first-year veterinary students. He also conducts research focused on hoof biomechanics.