About our Staff

Susan

Equestrian Canada Competition Coach, B.A. & B.Ed.

 Horses have always been a passion of mine- well, first it was unicorns and pegasuses...but real horses prevailed. It began with dude ranches every summer with my mom, then we moved to Vancouver and I discovered Southlands. I began Pony Club, where I progressed to B Level. I was riding with Rick and Jennifer Maynard as well as teaching for them. I taught all ages, levels and abilities, from tiny tots to retired adults, summer camps to therapeutic riding.

  My students have gone on to high levels of Pony Club, international shows and yes, coaching. As soon as I graduated grade 12, I went to work for Canadian team member Hugh Graham for 2 yrs in Ontario. What a way to see North America- from the back of a horse rig, horse show to horse show. I learned so much! When I returned to Southlands, I again worked for the Maynards and also began working independently, teaching at the Southlands Riding Club and achieved my Level One Equine Canada certification. A few years later, I met Dave, moved to Victoria, finished my 1st degree (History) and taught for Westside Stables.

  Next was the best move- to Campbell River, where I finished my second degree (Education) while continuing to coach riding at various private barns. Presently, I am taking a break from teaching school full time and have turned my full attention to my true love- Balance Equestrian Centre.



Alisha

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship

 I began my riding career in South Africa as a young 9 year old little girl who got to go to summer horse camp. The horse addiction bug bit me hard that week and I've never looked back!

  I grew up riding with just a regular, once a week lesson at the local barn, but even as a young girl nothing could stop me - getting thrown off 3 times in 1 half hour lesson, no problem, just get back on and keep riding. I rode at the North Shore Equestrian Center for many years and as soon as I turned 16 my riding lesson payments were now MY responsibility. Working after school part time to pay for lessons has always just been the norm.

  At 18 years old I got her first horse – a 20 yr old retired school horse. Unfortunately due to an injury we lost him a year later. Shortly after that I acquired a 6 year old Thoroughbred, fresh off the race track. There were many long days, month and years of tears and training but I ended up riding her for my Equine Level 1 Coaches exam. I also acquired my Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) Instructors Certification and taught therapeutic riding for over a year at Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities. This was by far the most rewarding year of riding/teaching of my life.

  Along the way, I have always been a working student to my coaches, working full time during the days and spending my afternoons on horseback training the ‘problematic ones’.

  After a bad day, the barn is my go-to escape. This passion is a lifelong one and sharing and developing that passion with kids and adults is what I loves to do - other than the many hours I love to spend in the saddle. I never back down from a challenge and always have a friendly, can-do attitude. I recentley moved to Campbell River with my husband Mike, and our 2 young daughters and I am now a very happy part of the Balance Equestrian team!



Zoe

Certified Horseman Association Therapeutic Instructor Level 2, Standard Instructor Level 4 & B. A.

 I started my riding journey with once-a-week lessons on lovely school horses. I looked forward to those lessons all week long and talked about them for hours afterwards. My parents soon agreed to let me ride two times a week as long as I worked at the barn to help pay for the lessons. This didn’t bother me at all since I couldn’t get enough horsey time, whether it was mucking paddocks or riding. I also joined Pony Club and made lots of horse crazy friends.

 My summers where (and still are) spent taking care of horses, helping with camps, and of course, riding. When I was 12, I started leasing my first horse. This meant that I could ride a lot more than before and start participating in many clinics and shows. I was always ready to learn, on the horse and off. When I started coaching stable management for camps and birthday parties, I learned how much I love teaching others about horses.

 I recently tested my Equine Canada level 1 to 4 and my C level in Pony Club on my lease horse, Duke. In the summer of 2019, I got my first horse named Penny. She has taught me so much and we have had great adventures together. I am currently working towards my C1 in pony club. When I got offered the chance to be a working student at Balance Equestrian Centre, I was ecstatic. I had always hoped to be a coach and to be part of the wonderful B.E.C team.

 I am very happy to be able to share my passion and to help others discover their love for horses. I am grateful to be surrounded by amazing people and horses that continue to inspire me everyday. Being a working student has been an awesome opportunity. I love every minute spent at the barn, whether I am coaching, working, helping others or riding. I am looking forward to continuing my riding journey!

 



Emma Bensen

Professional Coach

  For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for horses. I began riding lessons at the age of 5, and was very lucky to have my first pony at the age of 6. I took western riding lessons with my pony at a local barn. Where I spent countless hours riding various horses, doing chores, grooming and watching others ride. I was willing to perform any task around the barn or ride any horse for more saddle time. I wanted to learn as much as I could, and be around the horses. I truly believe that without the horses, I wouldn't be the person I am today.

 Horses have taught me the meaning of hard work, responsibility, and dedication. When I was twelve my parents purchased an acreage. I then shifted my focus away from western riding, and I began show jumping with Loni Atwood who lived across the street. I started as a working student with Loni at this time as well, which I was lucky enough to do for many years, and learn so much. In 2008 I found a new love for dressage. I immersed myself, as I was thrilled to see how the flat work improved my horses way of going. When I was 14 I rescued a Friesian TB mare.

 Mercedes and I competed successfully on and off Vancouver Island, schooling upto 3rd level dressage. In 2017, I purchased a yearling hanoverian filly, Bellerina. I started her under saddle this spring. I am a dressage focused rider and trainer. My passion is to provide a fun, safe, and knowledgeable learning environment for horse and rider, with a focus on correct basics, and correct rider biomechanics.I strongly believe in my own development as a rider, horsewoman, and coach too.

 I take regular riding lessons and I am currently working towards my certification in Equine Performance Therapy. When I am not at BEC, I can be found at my own boarding and training facility. When not with the horses, I enjoy going to the gym or being outdoors with my boyfriend and our two dogs. I am thrilled to be apart of the BEC team, where I am surrounded by others who share my love for horses and riding. I look forward to meeting you, and helping you reach your goals!




Ginny McLane

Professional Coach

  From Vancouver Island, to New Zealand, Ireland, Germany and Wales, I have been a trainer and rider in many disciplines for over 30 years. I have been involved in the Canadian Pony Club since 1995 and become a mentor and coach to many in the BC Islands Region, and will continue doing so in any capacity I can! Through a love of dressage and show jumping, I have found my true passion in eventing, and  I hope to resume competing at the higher levels here in Canada and internationally.

 I am an experienced and dedicated equestrian coach, holding certifications with Equestrian Canada, the British Horse Society, the NCCP, VaultCanada and the Irish Association of Riding Establishments, and I am always seeking to learn from others - whether it be from internationally renowned clinicians and riders, or regular lessons at home, and everything in between. I have trained in and coached for various disciplines, including horseback archery, vaulting, Grand Prix dressage, Pony Club, and driving, and loved it all. Although now I am a busy Geoscientist, nothing brings me greater joy and fulfillment than working with students and horses of all levels and goals! I look forward to being a part of Balance Equestrian Centre and all it has to offer to our local grassroots riders on Vancouver Island.




Bo Del Valle Garcia

Professional Coach

 I often joke that I was born in a barn, and well, that's not far from the truth. Growing up in the horse capital of Canada, Langley British Columbia, I technically started riding while still in the womb and was pretty much on horses before I could walk. The Del Valle Garcia family is a horse family, with both my mother (Linda Del Valle Garcia) and older sister (Alixe Del Valle Garcia) riding and coaching professionally. Growing up, every day after school and every weekend was spent at the barn.

 Beginning as a teenager I started to specialize in starting and training young horses, competing in hunter/jumper competitions throughout the West Coast of Canada and the United States. Shortly after I found my passion for coaching. I love fostering a sense of confidence and connection between riders and their horses. I also prize the sense of community that you can find in the barn and I work hard to build a supportive team. I have taught all ages and all abilities from tots to higher level “A” circuit riders and I love helping riders find their new horse.

 I took a break from riding after finishing my degree in Environmental Sciences and went on to work in food security, moving to the Comox Valley in 2019 to work for LUSH Valley Food Action Society. Finding myself in an area with such a vibrant horse community I decided to get back in touch with my first passion, riding, and am so happy to be part of the Balance Equestrian Center team.

 When not at the barn, I am a wildcrafter, gardener, herbalist, paddler, and budding carpenter with 2 adorable dogs and a flock of chickens.


Balance Equestrian Centre

Developed by Robert Lawrie