A $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation will provide more opportunities for clients traveling to Pegasus Therapeutic Riding from the east valley by fueling the associated transportation costs to the specialized facility.
“People of all ages, with a variety of special needs come from every city in the Coachella Valley to participate in our beneficial equine therapy,” said Robin Montgomery, Pegasus Executive Director. “But, because of the distance, our largest costs are associated with transporting clients from the east valley.”
To make the equine therapy accessible to as many people as possible, Pegasus pays for transportation to the riding arena, located in Palm Desert. Each week about 230 children and adults ride about a dozen certified horses, led by trained volunteers. This type of therapy – known as equine therapy or hippotherapy – helps clients in a variety of ways. For people with physical disabilities, riding strengthens muscles, loosen joints, promotes circulation, improves balance, and enhances hand and eye coordination. For people with mentally disabilities working with the horses promotes a sense of accomplishment and empowers them. In autistic clients, therapy reduces fears associated with new sights, sounds and tactile encounters, and teaches them how to follow directions. Concentration, focus and behavioral skills are often improved though this therapy.
Pegasus has served people with special needs in the valley since 1982, and some clients have been with Pegasus for 15 years. Pegasus relies on the generosity of its board members, who nearly all volunteer in the arena and work directly with the clients, plus the dedication of more than 200 additional community members trained to help lead therapy horses. College of the Desert nursing students visit the arena regularly to learn about animal assisted therapy and help clients with their exercises.
“To see the happy faces of the children and adults riding the therapy horses is impactful. You can just see in their eyes that this program is improving their lives,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “We are excited that the foundation grant will help Pegasus serve even more people with this special therapy.”
Since it was founded, the organization has never used the donated and rescued horses for anything other than therapy, which means it does not have other sources of revenue coming from things such as riding lessons and other training.
“Pegasus’ distinction among equine therapy programs means that a $25,000 grant and media exposure is extremely important for this nonprofit to continue the great work they have done for decades,” said Jerry Upham, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates KESQ News Channel 3 and KPSP CBS Local 2.
Through the Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership with the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and News Channel 3, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding was featured on News Channel 3 programming including “Eye on the Desert” (which airs on CBS Local 2 weeknights at 6:30 p.m.), in public service announcements and on kesq.com throughout the month of July.
For more information visit www. pegasusridingacademy.org or call 760-772-3057.