Client Rachel Cassar shares a tender moment with a horse named Penny while grooming Penny in her stall at the Monterey Bay Horsemanship and Therapeutic Center. The center is a 10-acre therapeutic horseback riding center for people of all needs and abilities located on Monterey Bay Academy property outside of La Selva Beach. The ranch provides special needs care on a fully inclusive horse ranch and emphasizes embracing adolescents and young adults with autism. The center offers several options for clients, including a day program for adults with developmental disabilities (some of whom have severe behavioral issues) and therapeutic horseback riding for all ages and abilities, including quadriplegics, Down syndrome and autism. Monterey Bay Horsemanship and Therapeutic Center has stables and paddocks for over 24 horses and an indoor and outdoor all-weather riding arena to promote learning and self-discovery.
Founded in 2001 and hugely popular, the pandemic has led to a sharp reduction in programs and attendance. Christine Kiebert-Boss, whose son Cole is in the program, says she feels “very lucky that my son can still participate, but I’m afraid it won’t last very long. Then my son will be stuck at home like so many other young men like him. They have virtually nowhere to go. Some of the many benefits of equine therapy include improved balance, core strength, motor skills, respiratory and circulatory function, and sensory integration. (Shmuel Thaler – Sentinel of Santa Cruz)