Meet Our New Program Director!

Person and horse

We are thrilled to welcome Tavia, as Program Director, to the Urban Stable team! Tavia is a certified CanTRA Intermediate Instructor and a registered social worker with a Master of Social Work. Her experience will be invaluable to all of our students and we can’t wait for the fresh ideas she will bring to the table.

Read Tavia’s bio here: 

My story with horses began over 20 years ago, when I was a child who wanted to spend every spare minute at the barn. The time I did spend with horses throughout my childhood (and adolescence…and adulthood!) not only helped me grow in confidence and compassion, but also provided me a refuge during the ups and downs of life.

Over the years, I gained experience in horse training and barn management, as well as experience coaching riding lessons. I am now a certified CanTRA Intermediate Instructor and a registered social worker with a Master of Social Work, and I am delighted to be bringing these skillsets together in my new role.

Urban Stable opens the door to horses for young people who might otherwise never have the chance to spend time with a horse. It is so rewarding to see students progress in skills, ease and confidence as they return each week and to witness the joy they experience so fully with the horses in the program. I am honoured to join the Urban Stable team as Program Director!

Fall Programming Kick-Off!

Youth and horse

A brand new school year is officially underway and we are having a blast welcoming our friends, old and new, into the peaceful atmosphere of the barn as our fall programs begin.

Our horses (the real teachers) are ready to teach their students the essential skills that allow their students to thrive. Empathy, self-regulation, patience, kindness, confidence, and relationship building are just a few of the areas of expertise our horses excel in teaching their human friends about. The horses’ safe, non-judgemental presence brings out the best in their two-legged companions. Who wouldn’t want a teacher who whinnies and sees you for who you really are?

As the students learn how to groom and bond with their horses, they learn about friendship, developing trust, and self-esteem. Playing games that put into practice themes like boundaries, consent, and partnership with their equine teammates, the students are able to connect the dots between these important topics and their daily life. Teamwork makes it all possible! Yay to the incredible ability our horses have to draw out these amazing qualities in each one of their students! Let’s continue unbridling all the youth potential we can this year!

Thank You Cardinal Foundation!

Thank you for your commitment to community and investing in the lives of the youth we serve. The equipment you so generously purchased helps us run our programs safely, smoothly, and effectively. Thank You!

Volunteers Needed

Volunteer and horse

Urban Stable empowers youth to engage in their education and community and achieve personal success through hands-on learning with horses.

Horse Handler Volunteers

Be part of a fun, positive environment working with youth and horses helping youth unbridle their potential. We are looking for adult volunteer horse handlers, who have horse experience, to join our team leading students on their horses as they learn to ride. 

Horse Handler Requirements:

  • Horse experience required
  • Available during the day on a weekday (Tues., Wed. or Thurs.) starting October 2023
  • Able to transport self to program (located 15 minutes North of the perimeter)
  • Able to attend Orientation on Sept. 12, 10:00am-11:00am and Training Sept. 27, 1:00pm-3:30pm and Sept. 28, 10:00am-12:30pm
  • Volunteer hours: 2 hour class per week, for 10 weeks Oct.-Dec. & 14 weeks Feb.-June

We are a Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA) accredited centre and provide full training and support to all volunteers from advanced beginners to experienced. To learn more about this opportunity or to apply contact

Program Volunteer Photographer

We are looking for 2-3 Volunteer Photographers to join our team to use their creative skills to capture the “magic” and celebrate our student success stories during program and at fundraising events. 

Volunteer Photographer Requirements:

  • Experience taking, editing, sharing and uploading photos preferred
  • Available during the day on a weekday (Tues., Wed. or Thurs.) starting October 2023 and occasional weekend/evening for fundraising events
  • Able to transport self to program (located 15 minutes North of the perimeter)
  • Able to attend Orientation on Sept. 12, 10:00am – 11:00am
  • Volunteer hours: 1.5-2 hours per class a week during program times (10 weeks Oct.-Dec. & 14 weeks Feb.-June). Plus 2-4 hours during fundraising events as needed

We will provide full training and support to all volunteers from beginners to experienced. To learn more about this opportunity or to apply contact

Meet Ahanu!

Student and horse

It was a hot day at Urban Stable. Ahanu* sat atop his horse, May, sweat accumulating on his brow. He held his reins and tried his best to focus on keeping his hands quiet and still, opening his hand in the direction he was asking May to turn. He remembered to sit tall while sinking his seat deep into the saddle. Ahanu was able to maintain his focus, despite the feeling of discomfort the hot day was presenting. When Ahanu first started at Urban Stable, this challenge would have proved too much for him, but through perseverance and determination, he was now able to tolerate uncomfortable situations and maintain his composure, a critical life skill.

Ahanu had selected May as his horse when he first met her. He loved her beautiful black and white coat and her sassy attitude. Ahanu realized that he was a lot like May. Being similar, May was an excellent teacher for Ahanu. He sometimes struggled with feelings of anxiety and found it hard to stay calm. When he would start to feel anxious around May, she would respond by speeding up if she was walking, or struggling to stand still in the grooming stall if she was cross tied. Ahanu could see how his horse mirrored his emotions. He realized if he was going to be a good leader to May, he needed to learn how to recognize and regulate his emotions and energy.

Ahanu practiced his self-control, becoming more patient, and increasing his attention span. It was hard at first, but it got easier as time went on. He was developing his mental muscles and it showed! Seeing the effects of his emotions on May, was a light bulb moment for Ahanu. He realized he could have an enormous influence on the animals and people around him. This inspired him to take control of what he was feeling and not let it control him. His friendship with May gave him the encouragement he needed to face his anxiety and conquer it. He would not allow distractions to rule his life any longer. Ahanu was a champion!

Ahanu’s persistence paid off. His hard work and dedication resulted in him becoming much more mindful. He developed a strong bond with May, and they grew to trust each other. Ahanu could see firsthand how being a good leader meant recognizing how you make others feel. Choosing to acknowledge his emotions but not allow them to distract him from what he was aiming to achieve was a game changer for Ahanu. By so doing, he was able to honour his feelings, and become a wonderful, trusted partner to his horse. A lesson that will stick with him forever!

You can help more youth like Ahanu develop self-awareness, improve their self-control, and learn leadership skills. Horses naturally reflect the energy and emotion we present, making them excellent teachers. They show us areas in our lives we need to work on and help ground us. Donate today!

*name and photo changed to protect their identity

Meet Daryna!

Student and Horse with Helper

Daryna* arrived at Urban Stable struggling with self-esteem. She tried to be very independent and did not like asking for help. If you offered assistance to Daryna when she was having a difficult time with something, she would refuse your offer. Yet Daryna would get extremely discouraged if a task she was attempting seemed too daunting for her. Daryna’s journey with her horse at Urban Stable helped her build confidence and trust in herself and others. 

When Daryna first met her horse, Prince Caspian, she had to learn to communicate clearly and patiently with him. Sometimes Daryna would have to ask Caspian a number of times to do a task like stepping over in the grooming station before he would respond. This would at times get frustrating for Daryna, but she kept at it and learned to empathize with her horse, even when he was slow to move over because he was distracted by something in the barn.

Daryna learned how to tack up Caspian. When she grabbed the big Western saddle, she could barely lift it high enough to place it on Caspian’s back. As she fumbled with the buckles and straps, discovering how they were connected, she sometimes felt disheartened  as saddling was a confusing task for her. She was determined to saddle on her own, and didn’t like accepting help from others, even when help was offered and could have enhanced her learning. 

When Daryna began riding Caspian, she was very excited. She was resolute to do a great job and not be afraid. Still, horse’s have a mind of their own, and things don’t always go exactly as planned. Daryna found that if she didn’t ask Caspian quite the right way to walk or halt or turn he would not understand what she was requesting from him. When this would happen Daryna would immediately get very frustrated and shut down completely. “I can’t do it!” she would say, with angry tears in her eyes. In these moments, her instructors would offer encouragement, explaining that she was doing an amazing job and that Caspian just didn’t quite understand what she wanted from him.

“Asking for help is okay and an important thing to do when you’re unsure of what step to take next,” Daryna’s instructors kindly explained to her. “We all need help sometimes.” With this new frame of mind, Daryna softened to the idea of receiving help and was able to accept the instruction and assistance she needed to ride her horse around a variety of different arena patterns successfully!

Her empathy and patience grew and even when Caspian would see an opportunity to visit his horsey friends and veer off in their direction while she was riding, Daryna would quickly correct this by steering Caspian back on task. “Silly Caspian!” Daryna would laugh and exclaim. “Horses enjoy chatting with their friends just as much as we do!” Daryna’s confidence and trust blossomed, all thanks to a beautiful silver horse and the life-changing help she received at Urban Stable!

Help more youth receive the opportunity to develop invaluable life skills through connecting with horses, just like Daryna did. Donate today!

*name and photo changed to protect their identity

Meet Steven!

Student and horse

River shifted in her crossties, taking small steps with her hooves. “I’m so tired of standing here!” she thought to herself, exhaling hard. She lifted her left front leg to paw the ground. Right at that moment, she heard a familiar voice. “Hi River! How are you doing today?” She looked to her right to see a smiling child walking towards her. He stretched out his hand and gently stroked her neck and shoulder. River immediately felt the anxiety coursing through her lessen as she relaxed into his soothing touch. “My friend Steven* is here, thank goodness!” she thought to herself with relief.

Steven proceeded to groom River, starting with the rubber curry comb in gentle circles, and slowly moving on to the stiff dandy brush and the soft body brush. River remembered when she first met Steven, he had been quite nervous around her, and unsure of her as well as of himself. She had tried her best to be very patient with Steven, as she taught him her likes and dislikes, and how to be a kind, assertive friend with healthy boundaries. Now, Steven was much calmer whenever he came to visit her, and he helped her scratch all her itchy spots with great gusto! As the dirt flicked out of her silky coat, River started to relax more and more. She began to lick and chew, a display of a truly relaxed horse. River felt safe in Steven’s presence; his new-found calm, assertive energy allowed her to stand still and focus on him and what he was asking her to do.

Once River was spotless, Steven clipped a lead rope onto the bottom ring of her halter and unsnapped the crossties. With his Urban Stable instructor beside him, he asked River to step forward, out of the grooming stall. He led her into the arena, and they began to go for a brisk walk around the perimeter of the ring. River stretched her legs with delight, pleased at the chance to get moving after all that standing still! Steven paid close attention to his horse, inhaling, and making a clicking sound when he asked her to move forward, and exhaling and saying a firm “Whoa” when he asked her to halt. River thrived from the clear instruction, happy to understand exactly what Steven wanted her to do! She loved being a good teammate to her human partner, and his excellent leadership made her confident in her ability to trust in him.

Once River had finished her warm-up, Steven guided her through a series of gymkhana games using orange cones and poles he had set up earlier in various patterns throughout the arena. He asked River to move her body in different directions and sometimes she even had to spin in a tight circle around one of the cones! He walked beside her, between her head and her shoulder, holding the lead rope loosely in his hands. At times he asked her to halt, and he would pet her neck lovingly and tell her she was such a good girl. This was River’s absolute favourite!! The more Steven told her she was doing a great job, the more she wanted to keep trying as hard as she could for him! Steven seemed eager to spend more and more quality time with River. The longer River knew him, his focus and attention span increased, and he was less frustrated learning and practicing new skills compared to the beginning of program. River could tell that she had helped make a big impression on Steven, and this filled her with joy. “All humans deserve to unbridle their potential,” she thought to herself.

Steven played a few more games with River, ‘Red Light/Green Light’, a dice game with addition and subtraction math skills, as well as a game describing positive traits one might have. River was enjoying herself so much spending time with her friend Steven, that she lost track of the time completely! She tried to be a wonderful teammate to her two legged companion because he made her feel so special and secure. She could tell that Steven was having a ton of fun too. His smile got bigger and bigger the longer he was with her! This made her even happier, and when class was finally over and Steven had to go, they were both in a state of comfortable bliss. Steven had learned so much at Urban Stable; how to be a leader, how to be a good friend, and how to work as an amazing team with his horse, developing empathy and compassion. “Steven should be so proud of himself!” River reflected, “He deserves a whole bucket of carrots for his hard work and achievements!”

Steven said goodbye to River and spent a few moments sweetly caressing her soft coat. “I’ll see you next week River!” he exclaimed as he headed out the door, beaming from ear to ear. River nickered a soft farewell and wished her friend a fantastic day. Her Urban Stable instructor led River out of the barn and turned her back into her pasture with all her horse friends. River walked over to her hay and snatched a mouthful with a smile on her face. “What a great day” she mused to herself as she munched away peacefully. “I couldn’t imagine a better life than helping humans build confidence and trust” she thought with contentment as the birds sang in the trees beside her and the soft breeze ruffled her dark mane.

Help more students like Steven learn leadership, friendship, empathy, and patience from our horses like River and donate today!

*Name and photo changed to protect their identity

Meet Orla!

Orla* was referred to Urban Stable by her guidance counsellor to help provide a safe and stable environment, and to build relationship skills, confidence and trust. 

When Orla first started at Urban Stable she was very shy, anxious, and struggled with any task that drew her outside of her comfort zone. Our certified instructors slowed the pace of learning for Orla, allowing her time to get to know her horse, Brownie. Each week, Orla became more and more confident, growing in trust.

Orla’s guidance counsellor shared with us how Brownie was a huge inspiration to Orla on a recent field trip. Orla and her classmates had to demonstrate that they could successfully go down the first ski slope before being able to advance to the next activity. Orla struggled with her fear, unable to step outside of her comfort zone, and became increasingly frustrated. Finally, she approached her teacher in floods of tears, saying she couldn’t do it. 

Orla’s teacher knelt down beside her and reminded Orla about Brownie, saying she knew Orla could groom, tack, lead, ride and even lift and clean Brownie’s large feet at Urban Stable. If Orla can do that with Brownie, a large animal with a mind of her own, why couldn’t Orla go down this little hill? Orla, wiping her tears, stood 6 inches taller – she remembered the vital skills, confidence and trust she developed with Brownie. Orla channelled these lessons, skills and feelings into going down that slope. And she did it with a smile beaming from ear to ear with her sense of accomplishment!

The skills students, like Orla, develop at Urban Stable naturally transfer into all areas of their lives and stay with them forever, making a positive impact for a lifetime. You can be a part of this life-changing work. Donate to our cause in June and help us win $20,000 in the Great Canadian Giving Challenge! Your support makes a difference.

*name and photo changed to protect their identity

Hold Onto Your Hats – Urban Stable Wear is Here!

Horses wearing caps

Get your orders in today! Deadline is June 9th, 2023.  

We heard you needed something new to wear so check out the latest Urban Stable Wear merchandise available now. All proceeds from the sale of these items go towards our core program, empowering youth to overcome challenges through hands-on learning experiences with horses. 

Thank you for supporting Urban Stable. We appreciate you! ​

Urban Stable Cap

  • One size fits all
  • Sandwich two tone peak in stylish navy and white
  • Logo embroidered on front
  • $25
Urban Stable T-Shirt
  • Two t-shirt options available in women’s, men’s and women’s junior fit
  • Choose your colour (for colour options click image on order form)
  • Logo screen-printed in white left chest
  • $30
Urban Stable Pull Over Hoodie 
  • Pull over hoodie available in women’s and men’s fit
  • Choose your colour (for colour options click image on order form)
  • Logo full colour embroidered on left chest
  • $65
Zip up hoodie - grey Urban Stable Zip-Up Hoodie 
  • Zip-Up hoodie available in women’s and men’s fit
  • Choose your colour (for colour options click image on order form)
  • Logo full colour embroidered on left chest
  • $65

Meet a Volunteer


How long have you volunteered for Urban Stable?
I have been a volunteer since 2017. 
What do you like about volunteering with Urban Stable? 
I enjoy seeing the impact of the hands-on learning the students get to have with their horses. I truly value being part of a team that values education and safety whereby the students and volunteers learn how to support their horse in a caring and respectful manner. When you volunteer you get to see each week how the horses teach something new to the students each time, and you get to watch how the students grow throughout the duration of the program. Students often share their experiences of something new that their horse did that week, or something they learned from coming out to the barn that day. It is always a special moment when you get to be a part of a student’s positive experience at Urban Stable and know that they will carry these personal memories and experiences with them as they move on from the program. From the students that have no horse experience, to students that have a horse-riding background, every student learns something new each time with their horse at the program. 
What is your favourite Urban Stable memory?
One of my favourite things to be a part of is seeing the different experiences the students get to have with their horses and watch how the student’s confidence builds each week. Urban Stable students not only get to groom and care for their horses, but they get to do many valuable and fun activities in the arena, classroom work, as well as working on riding skills. The instructors foster an environment of fun where teamwork activities, educational activities, and games are played with the horses which help the students work on various skills like confidence building and communication, as well as how to care and thank their horses. I love witnessing how in each of these areas the students change over the months of the program, and you get to see the confidence they develop in tacking and grooming their horse, their communication with their horse, and their connection and love to their horse. It is all so special to be a part of! 

Elisabeth discovered Urban Stable through in 2017, and she was connected with Hayley, our current Executive Director. She came out to our facility for a barn tour and hands-on training with Carla, our Head Instructor. Elisabeth started volunteering with students in our School Program, has helped with our Alumni Program, and if we required additional help she was ready to pitch in wherever needed.  
Elisabeth has enjoyed getting to know all our different horses over the years, learning about their individual stories and personalities. China and Rufus are two special Urban Stable horses that Elisabeth has fond memories of working with!