Staff

Trish Mrakawa

Trish is the owner of Willow Grove Stables, which was established in 1982 and has been at its present location since 1984. She found it necessary to ‘take the plunge’ to own her own facility so that she could assure the proper care and well-being of her horses and students alike.  While Willow Grove is a successful, competitive stable, Trish promotes a friendly ‘family’ atmosphere amongst all her clients. She is proud of the fact that many of them have been with her for several years.

Trish holds a Pony Club “A” Certificate and is one of a select group who has attained a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) Level 3 Certificate in Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation. She is often heard to say, “I love to teach all levels and am grateful for being able to do what I love every day. Not all people are so lucky.”

After successfully competing in both hunters and jumpers as a junior rider on the North American circuit, Trish switched to Three-Day Eventing and represented Alberta many times in the Continental Young Riders Championships. Returning to her first love of show jumping, she began riding and teaching professionally in 1982.

Trish's students have competed at shows from Novice level to the international ring at Spruce Meadows. The riders at Willow Grove travel to competitions regionally, nationally and into the USA.  The many milestones her students have reached in their riding careers include CET Regional winners, CEF Zone Awards and representation on such team competitions as the North American Young Riders Championships. As a testament to her ability to ‘empower others’, over 100 of her former students still remain active in the horse industry.  Half of these students have become professional riders and coaches, with their own students finding success in many disciplines.

In 2002, Trish became the Master Course Conductor for English Coaching in Alberta. She was then appointed Chairman of the Equine Canada English Coaching Committee that has been instrumental in developing coaching programs for evaluating and training of coaches in Canada along with the Equine Canada ‘Learn to Ride’ program. Although remaining a member of this committee, Trish stepped aside as Chairman in 2009 to focus on her responsibilities for a position she received in 2008, Chairman of Coaching for Jump Canada. A Certified Mentor and Evaluator for the NCCP/Equine Canada Coaching Programs, she was accredited in 2008 by the Coaching Association of Canada as a Learning Facilitator for the NCCP/Equine Canada Equestrian Theory course.

Trish has used her vast experience in the horse industry to establish a focused program in the development of young horses. In 2001, she partnered with her longtime friend Janine Olson to establish Two Willows Equine Development Centers to raise warmblood horses and ponies for the North American market. The program has been very successful and continues to grow.

When she is able to take time away from her busy schedule of training and coaching at shows, Trish judges Equine Canada recognized hunter and jumper competitions and conducts riding clinics across Canada. In 1999, she expanded her vision of helping people by becoming involved in the wellness industry where she provides consulting for those who are interested in preventative and alternative methods of health and reducing the stress in their lives. After years of raising Jack Russell Terriers, Trish and her fiancé Bill have now embarked on breeding Golden Retriever puppies and successfully welcomed their first litter in 2009.

 

Jenn Smart

Jenn began riding in B.C. at the age of 13 with a horse whose ad stated, “Ideal for an experienced rider who likes a horse with energy.”  While this did not turn out to be an ideal learning situation, Jenn did succeed in learning the skills required to cope with difficult horses (and how to fall off – also not ideal). Moving on to three more “off the track” thoroughbreds, she was presented with the even greater challenge of retraining horses to their new careers. Becoming involved in the Canadian Pony Club, Jenn found the thrill and challenge of three-day eventing was right up her alley.

A graduate of Olds College with Distinction, Jenn was College Valedictorian and Faculty Outstanding Student of the Year. She does everything well and to the finest detail, and these qualities make her an excellent coach and mentor.

Jenn is a NCCP/Equine Canada certified Level 1 Coach and is currently in training for her next coaching level. Since joining Willow Grove, her talents have been well utilized with a long list of accomplishments in the show jumping arena and in three-day events. Jenn spends her days coaching students at all levels, breaking and training horses, competing and helping to care for the horses at the stable. She loves all the theoretical and practical knowledge of caring for horses and is our resident ‘Stable Management Coach’.

In 2007, Jenn was a member of Team Canada at the Intercollegiate World Equestrian Cup where she was part of the winning team in the overall competition and was the individual theory winner and top overall rider. She has gained extensive experience working with a wide variety of horses both in Canada and overseas, spending a year working in the Netherlands at various breeding, dressage and jumping stables.

Riders beware! Be careful if you fall off your horse around Jenn or you might be introduced to another of her many talents – drawing and sketching. You never know when or where a picture of your mishap may show up. Although we are not sure where she finds the time in her busy schedule, Jenn is an accomplished artist in a variety of mediums.

 

 

Sara Compton

My father was in the military which meant my family was constantly moving around Canada. He was posted in New Brunswick when I was ten years old, which is when I began riding. I started riding horses provided by the facility I was riding at but soon went on to buy a young horse of my own.


After graduating high school in 1987 my family moved to Calgary. It was here that I obtained my first job as a groom at Spruce Meadows. In my three years working there I groomed for Albert Kley and eventually began training some of their young horses. I later moved on to work at Anderson Ranch where I worked as a groom for Brain Anderson while he rode for the Canadian team which involved extensive travelling for the year that I worked for him. In 1990 I found work at a racetrack in Lethbridge where I was introduced to Karen Jarvie. Later that year I began working for Painted Trak Farms where I began training young horses for competitions and sales prospects. This is also where I first began coaching all levels of riding as well as at shows. In 1993 I moved back to Calgary from Lethbridge initially to get married but this is also where I found employment at Teesdale Stables. I later became a partner in the business and proceeded to work there for twenty-three years. In that time, I have been able to coach many students at all levels of riding and was given the opportunity to train and compete on many horses of all levels whether it be for clients or for sale. Currently I am working towards obtaining my coaching specialization as well as riding young horses for various people.

 

 

Stephanie Perras

Stephanie was fortunate to grow up on her family's dairy farm in Ontario where her love of animals bloomed. At a young age, she found horses to be majestic and would dream of owning her own. She bought her first horse by the age of 14 and since then has owned 5; Shandy, Squall, Nikki, Jinni and Steve. Owning her horses would have never been possible if Stephanie had not started taking lessons from the age of 7.

Her passion for horses and riding motivated her to teach for over 13 years at Wynbrook Farms, a well known A Circuit barn. During this time, Stephanie studied Animal Sciences at McGill University.

Once completing her Bachelor of Science with a major in Animal Science, Stephanie decided to further her teaching career and therefore obtained her Bachelor of Education at Ottawa University in 2008. Since then, Stephanie is a full time teacher and has taught multiple grades; 1, 3, 4 and 6. In 2010, she moved to Alberta and has been teaching in Calgary ever since.

Stephanie’s dream was not just to own horses but to get her Certification with Equine Canada to teach horseback riding. Her journey at Willow Grove Stables started in the fall of 2015, where she took lessons with Jenn. Since then, Jenn Smart and Trish Mrakawa continue to be her mentors. In October of 2016, Stephanie was successful in obtaining her Instructor of Beginners with Equine Canada. She is currently working towards her Competitive Coach Certification.

Stephanie is overjoyed to join Willow Grove Stables as an instructor. Stephanie looks forward to talking your ears off sharing her passion for horseback riding!

 
 
 
 

Sarah Johnston

Bio to come!