Although it does take a whole team to provide each and every STaRS ride, that team effort is carefully orchestrated by our STaRS Program Coordinator, Alexandra Cope, and led by one of our four certified STaRS instructors.
Our STaRS People
Our STaRS Program Coordinator and Equine Facilitated Counsellor
Alexandra Cope, MCP, RCC
If you call us, email us or visit us, chances are you will interact with our Program Coordinator, Alexandra Cope, who is unquestionably the "A" in STaRS! Alex knows everything and anything about our programs, the horses and the riders, and manages to juggle about one million administrative duties with a perpetual and large smile on her face (the photo on the right is case on point.... can you guess which one is Alex???).
In 2018, Alex completed a Masters degree in counselling Psychology, which included a 16 month internship as an equine facilitated counsellor. Alex’s approach to counselling is person centred and is founded on connection and presence. “Each person has a unique journey. I want to help people discover and strengthen their own voice and find the path that is right for them. I believe that empathic understanding can help open up space within and allow room for new ways of being to emerge.” Alex has experience counselling children, youth and adults experiencing trauma, grief and loss, anxiety, depression and life transitions.
Our STaRS Instructors
Our Head Instructor Megan McDonald started riding at a young age and spent her teen years and early 20s riding many different horses and competing in Three Day Eventing. She obtained her Equine Canada Coaching certification and taught regular riding lessons, and trained horses for other people. She then decided to branch out into therapeutic riding and in 2005, got her CANTRA certification. After teaching at Valley Therapeutic (and becoming their Head Instructor), she came to STaRS in 2007 as our Head Instructor.
The Farm is an ideal work location for Megan as she loves bringing her dogs to work every day, and values not just the benefit of STaRS, but also the benefit to many city kids of being able to visit a farm and interact with the animals.
Growing up in New Zealand on 500 acres, Penelope’s love of horses started at a very young age of 3 when her mother found her on the back of an untrained horse. From then on it was a full gallop into the world of competition in local pony club shows until her late teens.
Penelope’s working career led her to Canada and she brought her love of horses with her to study with local Canadians Jonathan Field (natural horsemanship), Chris Irwin, Sandra Wallin, Linda Ann Bowling and Linda Kohanov (from the USA).
Now having completed her CanTRA certification as a therapeutic riding instructor and a Life Coaching Diploma with Counselling skills, she is excited to be teaching at STaRS to provide a unique therapeutic and transforming experience that promote individual growth and relationship through partnering with horses and of course lots of fun and games!
Penelope also offers workshops in ‘mindful horsemanship’ and sessions on Equine Assisted Change.
Sera came from South Korea as a teenager and grew up in the Lower Mainland. In 2010 with absolutely no horse experience at all, she started as a volunteer for STaRS, and then with the support and encouragement from STaRS and Pony Pals therapeutic program, she received CanTRA BI certification in 2018. She feels incredibly fortunate to be back in STaRS to teach. In her lessons, she strives to create an environment that is physically and emotionally safe in which both learning and fun can be had through teamwork and empowerment. When not teaching, she looks for cancer cells under a microscope, practices yoga, and trains to be a champion napper along with her cat, Lucy.