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Deb Jones

Deb Jones


Deb Jones has been a client, volunteer and huge supporter of Opening Gaits for many years.

Deb's background is nursing and Opening Gaits was one of the places she chose for therapy. Seeing and feeling the benefits she has volunteered at every Live/Silent Auction, in the background, quietly assisting the Board.

A long time member of Opening Gaits, we welcome Deb into role of President.

Max Shilleto

Max Shilleto

Vice President

Originally from Vancouver Island, Max spent more time in the water than on a horse. It wasn't until after he moved to Calgary in 2008 that he had even been on a horse. Max fell in love with the program on his first day in September 2013, and was honoured to join the Board in October 2015.

Max is currently studying law at the University of Calgary. Previously, Max had graduated from Mount Royal University with a degree in journalism in 2015. He has also worked in videography, outdoor education and the service industry.

"Saturday mornings at Opening Gaits are always the highlight of my week. After a long week spent in classrooms and libraries, nothing makes me happier than being able to spend time with the riders, horses and fellow volunteers. There is no feeling in the world that compares to the one that comes from watching the riders grow and improve every week, and knowing that you had a hand in it."

Sheila Wilmot

Sheila Wilmot


Sheila is a mom of a 10+ year rider and has been on the board of directors for the last four years, taking on role of Secretary in 2016.

"This program makes getting through the week easier for one young, happy woman in my life, Maggie. To see the enjoyment in her face during a horseback ride just warms my heart."

In her personal life Sheila is a medical office assistant (MOA) and besides working she enjoys reading, knitting, good friends, and wine.

Jonathan Marlatt

Jonathan Marlatt


Growing up in The Laurentians, North of Montreal Jon was first introduced to horses. His friend’s mother still ran a successful riding academy, including raising and training top horses for Canada’ dressage team. The young boys grew up by the stables and horses very often being put to work.

Jonathan son has autism. In 2006, he and his family moved to Calgary after researching Alberta had excellent Autistic programs and support. His son had ridden before on school trips and enjoyed it. Riding was a place where his son was able to control the horse independently, and therapeutically, the tension in his muscles would subside. Seeing the special bond between his son and horse, Jonathan understands both sides of therapeutic riding. His son is an adult now and still enjoys riding horses.

Jonathan became a volunteer with Opening Gaits September 2014 and joined the Board October 2015. He continues to volunteer and ride.

Carter Mcleod

Carter Mcleod


Carter McLeod is a super nerd by day and aspiring horse trainer by night with most of his background revolving around the communications industry.

Over the years he has been involved with various organizations including the Ferret Rescue & Education Society and the Calgary Camaro Club. He also was a youth volunteer at Petland before he was old enough to drive.

Carter found Opening Gaits in 2014 while looking for volunteer work in the equestrian industry. He signed up as a volunteer in 2015, dove in head first, spent a year as Director and now has taken on the role of Treasurer

"You don't break horses, you come to an understanding with them." .

Lesley Ann

Alex Buchholz

Director/Assistant Instructor

Alex began volunteering with Opening Gaits in 2013. She was the head instructor for Saturday classes during the 2014/2015 season covering for an instructor on maternity leave and is currently the assistant instructor. Alex has been working with horses since she was eight years old and competed in show jumping competitions all over western Canada, including venues such as Spruce Meadows and Thunderbird Show Park for over 10 years.

Working with horses is one of Alex’s true passions that she has taken all over the world. She spent two weeks volunteering with a therapeutic riding program in Cordoba, Argentina in June 2014, and one week volunteering at a rehabilitation centre for wild and abused horses in Florida in August 2015.

Alex graduated from the University of Calgary with a Finance degree in April 2014, and has been working with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as a management consultant since August 2014.

Lesley Ann

Lesley Ann Shire


Lesley Ann comes to us in the role of Administrator. Originally from England with a huge love and respect for horses, over 30 years of experience in administration, management, event planning and the benefit of working for a non-profit organizations and boards.

Lesley Ann brings her compassion for all the riders with her and a deep level of understanding for all involved with Opening Gaits. Her nephew has autism and truly believes in the therapeutic effect, emotionally and physically, that horses have with their riders.

Lesley Ann resides in Millarville, Alberta.


$1-$300 - Helps us buy tack for our horses.
$300-$1000 - Helps us sponsor our riders.
$1000-$5000 - Helps us sponsor our horses.

Click on the Donate Now button to make a donation to Opening Gaits:



IMPORTANT: All forms must be completed in FULL prior to remitting payment on-line. Remitting payment on-line does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

Forms may be printed from this website and remitted to openinggaitssociety@gmail.com.