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Horse Health & Welfare Award

Horse Health & Welfare Award 2016

Find out what this year's nominators have to say about their nominees. Full biographies are listed below. Voting opens Friday, September 30, 2016. Voting closes October 15, 2016 at 6PM EDT. Cast your vote below! One vote per person.

Thank you! Voting is now closed.

Jesse Cassidy-Skof

Jesse Cassidy-Skof is a young woman whose love of horses translates into her business acumen, her best practices in caring for horses and riders: ultimately it is her life.

Jesse has always integrated horses into her life, and in 2012 furthered her knowledge with Equest Equine First Aid. In 2013, Jesse graduated with honours, top of her class, from the Performance Horse Handler Certification program at Guelph University. She was student ambassador and ran tutoring classes; demonstrating her passion for the care of horses.

Two years later, Jesse established Nature’s Run Equestrian (NRE); where she acts in many roles as owner, manager, trainer, coach and mentor to boarders, students and to those who call upon her expertise. Her passion and philosophy carries her through every facet of her daily life. Her facility boasts an open library where all students and boarders are encouraged to access texts on care and health of horses, and training methods.

Students are also encouraged to ask as many questions needed to ensure understanding of concepts. Jesse adheres to natural horsemanship for rescue, rehab, pleasure and show, and assists all levels of riders to hone their skills. We who are boarders at NRE (both horse and rider), are fortunate to have Jesse’s guidance and expertise, and find her strategies invaluable to overcome stumbling blocks which arise, so that the relationship with our horses continues to grow and become stronger. Jesse is not confined to teaching one particular age group, but students attending NRE schooling range from 4780. She demonstrates patience with horse and rider, guiding their practice both on the ground and in the saddle.

Jesse researches and provides advise on the best nutritional value of forage and grain, also ensuring that horses requiring special diets get the best available. Natural products are sought out as an alternative, and she seeks out the advice of both vets and herb specialist from Neachai. She also provides health care for a number of issues that arise: for example, heaves or other breathing issues Jesse researched and purchased a nebulizer.

Horses that required intervention are provided with treatments at no cost to the owner; simply because Jesse ensures that the horse comes first. Jesse ensures that farrier Kaileen St. Antoine whose philosophy and knowledge is parallel to NRE’s regularly tends to the horses’ hooves. Jesse ensures that all the horses on her farm are vaccinated appropriately each year. She administers any necessary medication with ease and comfort ensuring minimal stress to the horse. The horses in her care are dewormed regularly. If any unforeseen problems arise with a horse, Jesse will research information from relevant experts and notify the owner, providing advice as to what treatment or medical attention is needed. This is particularly valuable to those owners who are green, and who need guidance in the care of their horse.

Should a horse be incapable of performing for health reasons, or owing to injury, again the horse comes first, and the decision to push a horse is strongly discouraged. If Jesse recognizes that there is a safety concern, a horse will not be pushed to perform a task without ensuring safety of horse and rider. For example, an issue arose with a boarder whose newly purchased horse was underweight and grossly under muscled. The owners were adamant on starting the horse over fences as they had purchased him for that specific purpose. Jesse gave guidelines, vet recommended strategies as well as advice from an equine nutritionist on why this horse needed more time before jumping; but the owners wanted to jump regardless. With this blatant disregard for the horse’s welfare, the boarders were asked to leave the facility. Jesse was not willing to compromise her integrity, or the safety of the horse – both emotionally and physically.

Jesse goes out of her way to assist with horses whose owners are unable to meet their needs. Horses who have been abused, or whom seemingly refuse to cooperate with training are rescued by NRE and within a short time Jesse works to uncover the problem (e.g. a physical ailment or fear based behaviour) that prevents the horse’s performance. Resolution of the issue takes as long as the horse needs, and many of these horses ultimately remain at NRE after Jesse has nurtured and lovingly brought them to a place of trust; ultimately to become whole again.

Dianna Haughton

Dianna is a coach, horse trainer and owner. She ensures all horses in her care receive regular vaccines, deworming and all medications she is directed to administer. She accommodates whatever feed, supplements and turnout an owner desires. She ensure that all owners have the opportunity to have their horse attended to by any veterinarian or other clinician that will be at the barn. In situations involving extraordinary health issues, Dianne's care and dedication is correspondingly extraordinary. In 2016,this included Dianna collaborating with veterinarians and owners in nursing one horse (day and night) with severe clostridialmyosotis and another with a traumatic skull fracture with subsequent infectious sinusitis. Both horses have recovered and returned to training. Dianna is a remarkable caring, knowledgeable and dedicated equestrian whose boarders fully trust her to oversee their horses’s health and welfare.

Claire Hunter

As a well respected breeder, trainer, handler, coach and rider, Claire advocates for the overall health, wellness and welfare of the horses in her program and the relationship between their basic needs and effect on optimal performance. Given her diverse role and variety of clients through breeding, performance, and recreation, Claire is able to connect, positively influence and educate many people.

Preventative medicine, routine health care, nutrition and farrier work at Braecrest begins with the breeding program. Claire consistently consults with her Brooks Feeds representative to develop individual nutrition plans that meet the needs of the broodmares and supports the growth and development of the horses from in-utero to mature show horses. Claire routinely consults with her veterinarian on herd health and preventative health. These visits include routine care, such as fecals, blood work, physical or lameness exams, screening radiographs, reproduction work and vaccinations. Claire believes in a team approach to animal health with the veterinarian, farrier and trainer all working together to meet the unique needs of every horse that comes to Braecrest Farm.

Many of the training horses that enter her program require their physical health to be addressed or stabilized prior to any training beginning. During training, all possible physical and mental causes for any concerning behavior are addressed with the client/owner, and worked through to develop a confident and willing equine partner. Through her understanding that horses communicate through their behavior, Claire uses this knowledge and experience to educate and help owners and clients understand the behavior and health of their horse. Whether it's a broodmare, foal, developing a young horse or training a future champion, Claire effectively connects the relationship between equine health and optimal performance.

Claire is an advocate that the overall health and well-being of the horse comes first, and as a result, everything else will fall into place. I believe that in her various roles, Claire is a huge asset to the horse community. Claire has the ability to connect with, influence, and teach a wide range of people about horse health and successfully developing these amazing athletes. As a client, employee, and friend, this nomination only scratches the surface of what I have learned and experienced working with Claire.

Dominique Maida

Dominique is committed to educating all of her students on proper horse care. This year I had Dom work with my vet to work out some issues with a pony that was not well. Through Dom's coaching, care and follow up with the vet, the pony recovered. With multiple clients, her own horses and students she was very strong providing proper care to all horses while balancing family life, personal health and recovery.

Meagan Maloney

Meagan runs a very active show barn with over 30 horses and 50 clients. On top of taking clients to events almost every weekend in show season, Meagan heads up the care of all of the horses in her barn from regular maintenance to dealing with injuries. Meagan is excellent at involving and educating her clients whether they be students, leasers, or boarders. Meagan also engages working students in the care of animals, passing on the breadth of knowledge she has amassed over many years in the industry.

Julienne Marr

Julienne is an amazing coach that could not be more deserving of this award. She works closely with veterinarians, farriers, and nutrition specialists to ensure that each horse under her care is doing its very best. She always puts the horses needs first and has a strong belief in preventative care (vaccines, dewormers etc) She has many horses that require special attention and she has detailed care plans for them all. These include things like specialized shoes, feed supplements and long term medications, individualized feeding plans and schedules, special work out routines, veterinary and medical attention including laser therapy, massage, chiropractic and much more. All of these horses are receiving this specialized care thanks to Julienne’s strong relationship with her veterinary team and farrier. During competitions she goes above and beyond to make sure that all of the horses attending are in the best possible condition before during and after. She has no problem involving clients in equine health and welfare discussions and many of us have learnt a lot from her. Julienne’s love and exceptional care of these horses is inspiring to us all.

Katrina Noonan

I have known nominee Katrina Noonan for over two years now. When I met her I was seeking a new dressage coach and she came highly recommended by multiple clients of hers. She is also the reason I started using Mckee Pownall, as they were referred to me by a student of hers who got the referral from Katrina.

Katrina is a highly successful rider, trainer and coach and I know she will be successful riding at the highest level and have a large student base for years to come. One of Katrina's best qualities is her humility. She is a very caring and kind individual who attracts students and others in the industry towards her with her limitless kindness. Over the years, Katrina has displayed all the wonderful qualities that you look for in a coach, and much more. She is professional, punctual, amicable, kind, and of course- talented at what she does. She is very loyal to her students and goes above and beyond to help them get past training issues, get to shows, and accomplish the goals that she and the student have set together. She puts a lot of focus on basics and strength exercises when starting to work horses and when working up the levels. She is focused on making sure the horses have the basics and strength to carry out the work, and also are developing evenly, which is important for every discipline, not just dressage. Unlike a lot of coaches and trainers I see and have used, Katrina practices and teaches exercises to strengthen the horse and build the foundations of learning, before teaching complete movements. I think that this is essential to the student’s learning and understanding, but also to the horse’s health and longevity.

Not only does Katrina go above and beyond to help students and their horses in learning and reaching their training goals, but she also goes above and beyond to help students with their horse’s health. This refers to everyday care from cuts and scrapes or feeding, to the care and maintenance regarding the horse’s performance. Katrina always makes herself available to answer questions and discuss anything around horse care, not only during her lessons, but also on her own time.  I have never worked with a coach that shows so much interest in the horse’s welfare and invests so much time in helping and educating students in this topic. She knows that all different aspects of the horses care, tack, and training are imperative to the horse’s welfare and performance. Katrina is not afraid to bring up issues about the horse’s weight or feet or anything else that affects the horse's overall health. She is also the first person to want to rule out soreness or something to do with the horse’s health, rather than blame the horse’s attitude when it comes to training problems. She is also the first person to suggest scratching from a show, or decreasing/stopping training if the horse is not quite at its best. Katrina is always there to offer her insight and is the first person to recommend a vet, saddle fitter, or other professional to look at the horse if need be. She has gathered a wealth of knowledge over the years, and her mother is a vet herself. Katrina is a big believer in preventative care, and sport therapies in her own horses, and passes this knowledge and train of thought to all of her students. She is a supporter of using saddle fitters, vet work, farrier work, chiropractic, acupuncture, and equine massage in an emergency situation, corrective, and preventative manner.

My horse has always been my top priority, but Katrina has helped to educate me further about his overall health, and preventative health to better his life and performance. I have learned a lot about riding and training a dressage horse in the years I have had her as a coach, but I think I have learned even more about the care and welfare and preventative measures it takes to keep a healthy and happy top performance horse. The individuals who signed this nomination share the same feelings as me, as well as many others. 

Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts personifies all the criteria for the “Horse Health & Welfare Award”.  Awayzaway Farm  thrives on Sarah’s ability to run her business single handed as a boarding stable for Event riders, a training/sale facility for young horses, as well as breeding for the next generation of Eventers. 

From the moment a horse enters the doors of Awayzaway Farm Sarah plans a feeding, turnout schedule & comprehensive health care package based on each horse’s individual needs.  Her years of experience & continuous consultation/collaboration with veterinarians and her farrier ensures that each horse in her care has received up to date vaccinations, wormer, dental & hoof trimming/shoeing before any work commences.  She personally arranges regularly scheduled veterinary & farrier appointments & encourages her boarders to take advantage of the various yearly health care packages offered by McKee Pownall. 

Her desire to continue learning & passing on her knowledge means that everyone benefits from & has access to up-to-date & comprehensive health care information.   She takes advantage of her connections with OVC to offer her clientele the opportunity to participate in & benefit from various studies designed to improve horse health everywhere. 

Her years of acquired knowledge as an Eventing competitor, coach & trainer ensures each horse in her care receives an individualized lesson and training schedule based on each horse & rider’s capabilities.  Sarah excels at assessing a horse’s temperament & physical ability to navigate each of the 3 phases of Eventing.  Her students include riders new to the sport on experienced horses, green horses with experienced riders or experienced horse & rider pairings.  With this in mind Sarah designs well thought out, creative & ever changing lesson plans as well as a show schedule that suits each horse & rider.  She understands the need for proper conditioning to build up to the demands of navigating in a single day or weekend the 3 disciplines of Eventing:  dressage, jumping and cross country.  Each rider is encouraged to participate in schooling away from home and to attend the more relaxed environment of schooling shows to prepare both horse & rider for a full day of competition.  She draws from her own experience to educate her students about caring for their horse before, during & after competition.   Sarah also understands the need for relaxing hacks for both the horse & riders physical & mental wellbeing. 

From minute to minute & day to day, Sarah strives to provide a safe environment for the horses in her care.  However, when the unexpected happens or tragedy strikes, she relies on her Veterinarian and Farrier to manage those emergencies.  She will then undertake, often at her own expense, the necessary follow-up care so the horse can return to full health.   I think I speak for everyone at Awayzaway that we appreciate her hard work & dedication and don’t want the care of our horse’s in anyone else’s hands.

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer has been my trainer for about a year now. She has helped me purchase my first two horses. Jenny takes excellent care of all of the horses at Bayview Equestrian.  The minute there is a problem she immediately calls the vet and comes up with a plan for the horse to get the proper care they need. I know that the horses are always up to date with the farrier, they all see the veterinarian when need be and they all have the proper diet. Even though I have only known Jennie for a short amount of time I cannot think of anyone who deserves this award more. 

Jen Sweet

Jen is 100% dedicated to the health and well-being of the horses in her care. She has a dedicated daily and annual herd health program that incorporates a holistic healthcare professional approach, including vets, farriers, nutritionists, chiropractors and certified saddle fitters, all ensuring that her horses are well care for. Jen has used this approach to rescue and rehabilitate many horses to allow them to return to the equine community. Jen passes her immeasurable knowledge on to her students and boarders at every opportunity, using the barn mailing list to inform her clients on herd health updates and education opportunities. She offers seminars and clinics to her students and engages the juniors in her barn in horse health clinics and horse care lessons. Jen is very aware of her horse’s behaviours and quickly picks up on problems and will put horse health above ribbons and prizes. She is engaged in a horse’s life from the moment they enter the barn to the moment they leave. She has an amazing ability to care for horses in their advanced years and is always able to make difficult decisions in the end stages with the best interests of the horse in mind, even when it is not easy. 

Ainsley Vince

There is no one more deserving of the Horse Health and Welfare award than Ainsley Vince. At Linden Ridge, Ainsley ensures that every possible to measure is taken to make sure that all of the horses are as happy and healthy as possible. It is clear that the most important thing to Ainsley is the well-being of the horses and animals in her care, and this mentality is passed on to all of her employees and clients, making us all better horse people.

About the Award

McKee-Pownall Equine Services is pleased to announce the Second Annual “Horse Health & Welfare Award”. This accolade is valued at $1000 and will be awarded to the trainer that best demonstrates attention to the health and welfare of the horse. One recipient will be selected, from trainers in good standing with the Equine Canada, who directly and effectively enhances the health of the horses in their care.The award is based upon:

  • Incorporating veterinary care as part of the overall training routine of horses in their care.
  • Putting the best interests of the horse’s health first over competition and training schedules.
  • Educating their clients about horse health care.


  • Nominee must be a member in good standing of Equine Canada
  • Nominee must be a trainer or coach. They must train both horses and riders and these horses must be in their immediate care.

Complete Nominations include:

  • A completed nomination form.
  • In order to nominate a trainer for this award you must complete the attached form and provide 5 signatures from other people to support the nomination.

Nomination Procedure:

  • Nominations must be complete.
  • You may type/write directly onto the nomination form.
  • Candidates for this award can be nominated by their clients, riders, owners, colleagues. Nominators are confidential and are not publicized.
  • Completed Nomination forms must be received by September 25, 2016, 5:00 pm.
  • All e-mailed nominations will be confirmed.
  • Please send completed nomination forms to
  • Voting will open after all qualified nominations have been received.

Voting Procedure: Once qualified nominees are submitted the voting process will begin. There will be an online poll available for the public to vote for their choice for the recipient of this award. Voting will commence on September 30, 2016 and run until October 15, 2016. Each person can vote once.

Presentation: The first Saturday evening performance at the Royal Winter Fair Horse Show 2016. In order to be eligible for this award the Trainer must be available to attend the presentation.

Download your nomination form HERE

Past Recipients

Congratulations are in order! We are pleased to announce the recipient of the First Annual McKee-Pownall Equine Services Horse Health and Welfare Award in 2015 is Di Langmuir.  Over 800 votes were cast and it was a very close race! Presentation of this award to Di Langmuir will be made on the first Saturday evening performance at the Royal Winter Fair Horse Show 2015. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to nominate and vote for these trainers.