VTRA staff members

Mike Waters, Executive Director

Mike started volunteering at VTRA in 2016. After several years as a dedicated volunteer, he decided to join the team. Mike has over 20 years of experience  in providing leadership to an array of small and large non-profits.  He brings a diverse background that includes experience in strategic planning, fundraising, non-profit volunteering, financial administration and non-profit governance. For the last two years, Mike worked at Power To Be as a Senior Manager of programs.

Lauren Colborne, Program  and Volunteer Coordinator

Lauren joined VTRA as a horse handler and side walker in September 2017 and loved the program so much she decided to apply to join the team. She grew up in Ontario with many pets and started riding at a local stable at age 8. Lauren recently received her B.A. (Hons) in Psychology from University of Victoria and has experience working as a Support Worker and volunteering in various mental health programs.

Liz Gagel, Head Instructor

Liz grew up in London, Ontario and started riding at the age of 8. She spent her teenage years in the stable; working, riding and training horses. Her first horse was an “off the track” thoroughbred who she retrained to be a hunter jumper. While getting her education in Business Marketing from Fanshawe College she worked teaching riding lessons and horsemanship camps to children of all ages.
Liz moved to Victoria in 2008 and got her certification as a riding instructor through the Certified Horsemanship Association. She also started volunteering with the VTRA. In 2012 Liz became a certified Instructor through the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association. Liz keeps very busy managing the barn and teaching!

Cecilia Dingwell, Instructor

Cecilia Dingwell grew up on a Dairy Farm in Northern BC. She began riding at the age of 7 and competed at local horse shows in the area. After graduating high school, Cecilia came to Victoria to pursue a career in acting. She received her diploma in Acting for Film and Television and then decided to make Victoria her new home. Fast forward to 2012, Cecilia discovered VTRA. She volunteered as a horse handler and then as a assistant instructor. In 2014 Cecilia started her journey to become a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. She is now a Certified CanTRA Basic Instructor and a PATH International Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Cecilia also has a certification in Equine Massage which is a nice bonus for the horses at VTRA.
She is a proud mother of two amazing boys and a wife to a very supportive husband. Cecilia came to VTRA for the horses but stayed for the riders. She is honoured to be part of a team that brings joy, magic, laughter, and success to the riders and program of VTRA.

Jessica Game, Instructor

Jessica has been volunteering with VTRA since the day she turned 16, and in November 2014 took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator. Jessica has been riding and cleaning up after horses for the majority of her life, and is also an experienced horse handler and assistant instructor with VTRA. Jess spent 3 years based in Calgary, living the corporate life, before returning to balmy Victoria in 2014. In August of 2016, Jess became a Certified Instructor with Path International.


Mary Vincent, Stable Management Instructor and Office Administrator

Mary began working with the VTRA in 2018 as our Stable Management Instructor she has since taken on the role as Office Administrator.  She became certified as a CHA instructor in 2017.  Mary has been riding horses since the age of five and has been working as a stable hand since she was thirteen.  She is currently studying at the University of Victoria and is looking forward to progressing toward becoming a therapeutic riding instructor with the VTRA.

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