Our Founder, Executive Board and Instructors

Founder, President, Director and Head Instructor – Kelly Russell, CTRII

 with horse
Kelly Russell

Kelly Russell is the founder of T.H.R.I.L, and a certified Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association Intermediate Instructor, with decades of experience in teaching equine therapy programs. She has owned horses since she was a teenager, was an avid amateur rider and Canadian Pony Club leader and has a passion for providing equine therapy to improve the quality of life for children, youth and adults with mental, physical and emotional challenges.

Her passion and dedication led to the family’s move to the beautiful Kawartha Lakes in 2013, and the creation of Field of Dreams Farm, a boarding and training facility and the formation of T.H.R.I.L, in 2014, as a not-for-profit organization.  The organizing committee applied for incorporation as a non-profit charity in 2018 and T.H.R.I.L become a registered charity with Revenue Canada in 2019. Kelly is the current President of T.H.R.I.L and the head instructor. Contact Kelly at info@thril.ca

Director, Vice President, and Barn Liaison –
Bernie Mitchell

Bernie Mitchell is a long-time supporter of the special needs community in Kawartha Lakes and volunteers for the Special Olympics as well as T.H.R.I.L. She was nominated and won the Kawartha Lakes Sport and Recreation Council Volunteer of the Year award in 2016. She has great empathy with our riders, superb horse skills, and a generous heart. She also is the Barn Liaison for the program.

Director, Treasurer and Fundraising Chair –
Joan Mercer

Joan is a senior who loves to travel and has a ton of energy.  She previously volunteered with CARD (Community Association for Riding for the Disabled) in Toronto for 8 years so understood the wonderful value of therapeutic riding.  When she heard about the local program T.H.R.I.L in 2017 she wanted to join and be a part of the organization.  Joan has been an invaluable member of organizing committee ever since and is currently filling the roll of Treasurer for 2021. Previous to Joan, Heather McDonnell  was with T.H.R.I.L, from inception, as our Treasurer. Contact Joan at jrmercer10@gmail.com

Secretary – Corinne Fell

Corinne Fell has become an amazing volunteer. Her honesty, integrity and empathy are only some of her outstanding qualities.  She agreed to join our organization in 2018 as a representative for the volunteers and agreed to move to our executive as Secretary in 2021 to keep us organized and in order! She is also a seamstress extraordinaire and a passionate golfer.

Instructor and Volunteer Coordinator –
Anne Marie Finn CTRBI 1

Anne Marie Finn is an extraordinary horse woman with decades of experience working with the special needs community. She is also a CanTRA Basic Instructor with a special aptitude for working with riders on a one to one basis.  She also coordinates our volunteer schedule to ensure our riders have the support they need! Her mini-horses are ambassadors for T.H.R.I.L! Contact Anne-Marie at amfinn@sympatico.ca

Instructor – Sam Hill – CTRBI 2

Sam Hill is a wonderful asset to our program. Her depth of knowledge within the special needs community is exceptional. She has both her Child and Youth Worker Diploma and a BA in Sociology. She has owned horses for most of her life. Her approach with our students is one of warmth and understanding and we look forward to her continued success with T.H.R.I.L.

Volunteer Representative – Janice McDonald

Janice McDonald recently started to volunteer with T.H.R.I.L and immediately became an integral part of our program. With her cheery personality and energy she shares her passion for horses and learning with our riders and agreed to become our volunteer representative in early 2022. Janice will be the voice of the volunteers as she listens to ideas and concerns and shares them with the executive. Huge thanks to Maxine Jenkins who filled this role before Janice.

Rider Representative – Kathleen Vliek

Kathleen is very passionate about animal therapy and the benefits for individuals with a variety of needs. For 18+ years she has worked as a Child and Youth Worker in a variety of settings in the school system. Her work experience has helped support her young son, who has autism and be a positive advocate for him. Please reach out by email at ThrilriderRep.vliek@gmail.com if you would like to connect with her.