Team Members

Gayle Ecker, Director

Gayle Ecker

“I am honoured to be part of an organization in which the health and well-being of horses is the number one priority. Equine Guelph brings together diverse facets of the equine industry in one venue. In an environment of open dialogue, we discuss challenges facing the equine industry and how we can be of service in addressing these issues through research, performance, education and health care.”

– Gayle Ecker

At Work: Gayle was initially the Senior Manager of Equine Guelph when the centre was opened in 2003, and played an instrumental role in its birth. After promotion to Managing Director, Gayle continued to develop new programs and bring in new partners. She has dedicated her energies to advancing the equine industry through education and communications. Gayle created the ‘pyramid of education’ model – an educational approach that provides learning pathways for career development at all levels (youth education > industry skills > Equine Science Certificate > higher education) in the equine industry. In collaboration with the Office of Open learning, Gayle developed the Equine Science Certificate program an on-line program targeted to the equine industry. She also acts as an instructor in the program.

At Horseplay: Gayle started riding before she could walk! A dappled grey Shetland pony named Pogo was her first mount. Known as the ‘show junkie’, Gayle spent her youth competing at Arabian shows. A former researcher, Gayle’s expertise is in the area of exercise physiology. She has been the Assistant Chef d’Equippe for the Canadian Endurance Team, traveling around the globe with the team to international events like the Pan-Am and World Endurance Championships. These days, Gayle takes pleasure in riding her two Quarter horses through the wooded trails of her country home.

Susan Raymond, Communications and Programs Officer

Susan Raymond

“I believe that we, as caregivers, hold a tremendous responsibility to our horses. The environment that we create for them has a considerable impact on their welfare, health and performance ability, regardless of discipline. I feel extremely fortunate that, through these industry education programs I am able to combine my love of horses with my interest in communication and education as a career.”

– Susan Raymond

At Work: Susan oversees the communications program and is heavily involved in the education programs of Equine Guelph. Susan is the instructor and course co-creator of the Management of the Equine Environment online course, Equine Science Certificate program. Susan is also the assistant instructor of the Equine Journalism online course, Equine Business Management Certificate program. Formerly, she was involved in air quality research which provided practical recommendations to the horse industry on stable design and management. Susan has completed a PhD, investigating the effects of exposure of horses to mycotoxins.

At Horseplay: Horses are not only part of Susan’s professional life, but are her true passion and take up much of her social life. Susan has had a variety of experiences within the horse industry, from exercising young racehorses to jumping, dressage and trail rides. Most recently, she has had the opportunity to work with endurance horses and has even competed in a number of “ride and ties”.

Diane Gibbard, Special Projects Officer - Education

Diane Gibbard

“I wish Equine Guelph and EquiMania! existed when I was growing up and learning about horses. It is so great that today youth are able to have fun with EquiMania! while they are learning about horse health care. Often children only learn what is taught to them by their peers. EquiMania! is a great way to provide additional education to supplement that knowledge.”

– Diane Gibbard

At Work: Diane wears many hats at Equine Guelph. Diane is responsible for coordinating displays, events and funding for EquiMania!. Diane graduated from the University of Guelph in 2006 with a science degree, majoring in Animal Biology with a minor in Nutrition. Diane’s goal is to pursue graduate studies in equine nutrition and exercise physiology.

At Horseplay: Diane has always been passionately involved with horses ever since she started taking riding lessons and working on a thoroughbred breeding farm. At 13, she purchased her first horse, Twink, and traded lessons in exchange for working at the barn. Over the years, they competed together on the hunter circuit, in dressage and endurance. Diane still owns Twink but she still has one goal remaining – to complete a 100 mile endurance race!

Henrietta Coole, Corporate Sponsorship & Citizenship

Henrietta Coole

“What strikes me most about Equine Guelph is that it is the sole organization in Ontario that promotes the health and well-being of every horse in every discipline – ranging from the backyard pony to the high performance athlete. As a result, Equine Guelph communicates to people who simply love horses. Corporate sponsorships through Equine Guelph offer sponsors a unique opportunity to reach multiple disciplines with their message while supporting the cause of the horse.”

- Henrietta Coole

At Work: Henrietta joined the Equine Guelph team in 2007 to help develop a formalized corporate sponsorship program. As a non-profit organization, Equine Guelph relies on industry support to make its many programs a reality. Henrietta identifies initiatives that, through corporate support, deliver value-added benefits for sponsors while helping Equine Guelph with its educational (or communications) efforts.

At Horseplay: Henrietta was born into a family lineage of horse lovers whose involvement with Standardbred horse-racing spans over a century. As a child, she tagged along with her Dad and his horses to southwestern Ontario racetracks. Her first job after university took her to the marketing department of the former Ontario Jockey Club in Toronto. Today, Henrietta owns a 14-year-old homebred, R Lucky Tramp, who was recently retired from the harness racing ranks in the United States and reunited with his 27-year-old mother on the family farm in Rodney.

Jackie Bellamy-Zions, Communications and Administration

Jackie Bellamy

“I am thrilled to be working for an organization fostering education to horse owners. Equine Guelph teaches good horse sense to the youngest horse enthusiasts with Equimania! and provides a pathway to learning right up to top industry professionals with their Equine Studies Diploma. It is very rewarding to work in an environment that is constantly striving to help owners provide the best possible care for their horses..”

- Jackie Bellamy

At Work: Jackie is a "jack of all trades" at Equine Guelph; working in communications, logistics, reception and helping organize special events. Jackie brings over 20 years of experience working in many facets of the horse industry including coaching, training and writing for equestrian magazines.

At Horseplay: Jackie came by her passion for horses at the young age of nine; much to the surprise of a non-horsey family. That love of horses has been a driving force taking her all over the globe in capacities of teacher, trainer, stable manager and competitor. Jackie continues to work as a certified EC level 2 coach who has competed successfully up to preliminary level eventing.