Organization Name: Sunshine Ranch Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
In your own words, tell us a little about your organization: Our mission statement is “To provide accessible, high-quality instruction in therapeutic horsemanship to improve the physical, mental, and social abilities of children and adults with special needs.”
Sunshine Ranch Therapeutic Riding is a non-profit organization which provides individualized therapeutic horseback riding lessons for children and adults who have special needs. Lessons are conducted by a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Int’l. Certified Instructor. Our PATH Int’l. Center is volunteer-based and we work very hard to keep our lesson fees affordable in order to serve as many families as possible in our community.
Who is your target program demographic? (Who do you serve?): We serve children and adults who have special needs.
In what geographic region do you operate?: Sunshine Ranch Therapeutic Riding is located in Lakeside, CA.
How do you serve your target demographic?: Each weekly 1-on-1 session is based on the abilities and goals (riding goals & life goals) of our students. We teach riding skills and life skills which help our riders to reach those goals. For example, we help our students increase core strength so they can walk independently. We help our students develop self-confidence, balance, hand-eye coordination, emotion regulation, spatial awareness and improved proprioception, job skills, social skills, and so much more. We work on these skills while our clients are riding or doing ground work with our horses. Our students have so much fun during their lessons that they don’t even realize how hard they are working!
In addition to their therapeutic movement, our horses provide both a physical and emotional presence which creates a very unique and dynamic environment. Our horses help our riders get stronger, but they also teach people to be clear communicators, empathetic, and aware of ourselves and our surroundings. Our positive, dedicated volunteer staff care for the horses and assist our riders, creating a safe place where everyone is welcome and built up.
How long have you been operating your programs?: Sunshine Ranch was founded in April 2012. We have been in operation for nearly 3 years.
Looking out at the next 6 – 12 months, what is the one thing that your organization needs to grow? (ex. Development staff, press coverage, new office in a new territory, etc): Over the next 6-12 months, we are really focusing on fundraising. It is our mission to provide accessible, safe, effective therapeutic riding lessons for our clients. Despite the results and evidence, therapeutic riding is not yet covered by most insurance carriers, and having a child with special needs is very expensive. We rely on fundraising to cover the cost and care of our horses, pay our instructor and other necessary future staff, purchase tack/adaptive equipment, provide continued training and education, etc. We are currently fundraising to build a “Sensory Trail” and also hope to someday offer scholarships for students who cannot afford to pay. Our current monthly fundraising goal is $5,000.
What is stopping you from making that a reality?: At this time, we do not have the funds to support a full-time staff that would include personnel responsible for fundraising/event planning, volunteer coordination/training, equine management, etc. At this time, we only have one PATH Int’l. Certified Instructor (working on a part-time basis) and 3 horses. We are moving into a new office space, which will present an added expense. Our focus is on the quality of individualized instruction and support delivered in each session, and it is important to us to keep it that way. It is also imperative that we continue to provide excellent care for our horses. More fundraising and exposure will help us to serve more students and families, while maintaining a high-quality approach to each of our varied jobs and responsibilities.