Our Staff

The staff at RTRA is committed to helping children reach their full development potential. All instructors are certified which ensures we provide a safe, appropriate riding program, providing maximum therapeutic benefits.

Our instructors have a strong background in riding and working with horses and are familiar with the disabilities of their riders. Our knowledge and experience allows us to teach our students in a safe and effective manner. The staff is regularly attending workshops and clinics to keep up to date with the different techniques that can be used in Therapeutic Riding.

Alyssa Bigiolli,  Program Director

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Alyssa has participated and worked in the horse industry in the Lower Mainland for over 15 years. Taking a short break from horses to travel and study at SFU, Alyssa then started at RTR in 2013 as an Exercise Rider. She quickly fell in love with the ponies and was very excited when she was asked to be the Part-time Volunteer Coordinator in 2015. Over the past few years Alyssa has learned a lot about Therapeutic Riding and has completed her CanTRA Basic Instructor 2 and Equine Canada Instructor certification. Her roles at RTR now include teaching, managing volunteers, fundraising and taking care of our horses.

Email: Alyssa

Joan Simmons, Instructor


Joan is a passionate coach and early childhood educator, who enjoys people, animals and living life in a positive way.  She enjoys taking seminars, workshops and other education to keep herself up to date on the latest theories and practices that pertain to the well being of the people and animals she works with.  Joan was the volunteer coordinator and instructor at RTRA from 2004 -2010.  She is a CANTRA Ai certified coach and also works as the Head Teacher at Burky’s Preschool since 2008.  We are so excited that she will be returning to RTRA.

Rachel Kirkpatrick, Volunteer Coordinator

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Rachel’s love of horses began at an early age with her own little pony who taught her everything she knows about mischievous ponies.  More recently Rachel and her daughter have volunteered at a pony rescue for the last 4 years, and having thoroughly enjoyed this, Rachel looked for other volunteer opportunities to help others experience these wonderful animals. Since 2017 she has volunteered as a side walker and leader with RTRA.  Rachel is now excited to take on the role of Volunteer Coordinator, and getting to know all the hard working volunteers, that make RTRA the special place it is.

Email: Rachel

Jill Spencer, Office Administrator

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Jill is excited to take on the role of Office Administrator.  As a life-long lover of horses and children, she looks forward to contributing to the special work of RTRA.

Email:  Jill

General inquiries: 604 241 7837