Square Peg is like an oasis where horses, humans, and magic work together to perform miracles on a daily basis.
Everyone is welcome, and uniqueness is not just tolerated, but embraced. On a given day, neurotypical students take lessons side-by-side and work with kids who experience the world in a completely different way. No one is less than anyone else; everyone is accepted as they are, where they are.
The staff and volunteers at Square Peg are doing a wonderful job at creating the change that the world needs to see and be, rescuing animals, valuing differences, and respecting everyone involved.
Just returned from another wonderful afternoon at Square Peg Foundation. My formerly isolated and unhappy daughter is learning and working cooperatively and happily with other youth and with the horses, and together they grow to accept and trust each other. It's music to my ears to hear her animated account of her lesson, what the kids did, what the staff did, and what the horses did. Joell and her staff are remarkably caring and patient and accepting; they willingly meet each young person in whatever emotional space they happen to be in on a given day. Parents can sit back and relax for a few minutes, pet one of the ranch dogs, or jump in and help with a project around the office or stalls...whatever they need to do at the time. I was referred to Square Peg Foundation from another satisfied family, and will happily pass along my recommendation.
In my entire riding career, I have never come across an establishment as respectable and effective as the Square Peg Foundation. The facility is nestled in Half Moon Bay, and can best be described for its aesthetic value by the term "breathtaking". Each rescue horse at the ranch has a unique and wonderful disposition. I would accredit their friendliness to the fact that these horses are simply happy; happy to work, to serve, and to be in the care of the Square Peg staff. What is most phenomenal about these horses having such fantastic dispositions is that many of them have faced tremendous adversity prior to their arrival at Square Peg. I suppose the dark histories of many of these rescue horses are an inspiration to the students; many of whom have faced adverse life circumstances of their own. These children come from all walks of life, and despite the variation between the circumstances, personal characteristics, and physical characteristics of each child, they all fit in at the Square Peg Foundation. I fear that my review will not do the foundation nearly enough justice. One would have to experience a day at the ranch and see for themselves how palpable the love and positive energy is here.
My 13 year old son takes riding here & we love it! The Square Peg folks are friendly, caring and careful. The most wonderfully unique thing about Square Peg is that it is all inclusive - so regardless of the needs of a child, all are welcome and included and feel important here. Both of my kids (one with disabilities & one without) adore Square Peg, are challenged, comfortable, and learn new things every time. A true gem!
Friendly welcome, freedom: to be who you are as an individual and as a family, lgbtg?-no problem, a place that heals horses and people, integrity, generous, loving, challenging...and like most non-profits they do it all with not enough time or money but with love and grit. (If I took the time to write out complete thoughts this review would be way too long. Try it, if you "get it" you will love it.) My SF city boys have benefitted from Joell and the horses more than I can say.
I’m Max, i am 17 years old and I’ve been hanging out with the people and animals at Square Peg since I was five. I learned to ride during the very first Square Peg summer camps. But Joell, Greg and Sigourney didn’t just teach me to ride.
They made sure I also learned responsibility, That if we don’t care for the animals they won’t care for us. Over the years I’ve learned to get the horse out of the barn, to groom the horse, saddle the horse, bridle the horse, tie up the horse, untack the horse, groom the horse again. I’ve also learned how to do many necessary if not elegant chores such as cleaning stalls, feeding the horses, filling water buckets, and countless other important tasks. I have learned more life lessons at Square Peg then everywhere else i have ever been combined times 10 I will always as long as i live be doing everything i can to help this amazingly wonderful organization/place/second home for me and many others.
Square peg is the most unique and wonderful organization I have either professionally or personally ever been involved in. My son has been involved since he was 5 years old. He started riding and learning invaluable life lessons like caring, sharing and acceptance of others. My son has several challenges that left him feeling very different than other kids and not accepted. He found at Square Peg he was accepted, and cared about by not only the remarkable staff but other students at Square Peg. He now is in high school, volunteers all summer with helping other kids in the summer camps and continues volunteers throughout the school year. Square Peg is the place were everyone really does fit. This organization has changed my sons life. He now has groups of high school kids from his school who help out a couple of times a year as community service projects and they also enjoy it. He continues to now ride in their new polo program and has found he loves it. I volunteer whenever I can and love working with the Staff, Board members and clients.
An avid rider as a child, I started riding with Square Peg after a lapse of over twenty years. Joell's unique approach (always supportive, constantly adaptive) and her amazing horses (former dressage champs, jumpers, racehorses and polo ponies-all donated) provided me with different ways to learn and grow as a rider. I ended up adopting one of Square Peg's horses. A former dressage champ, he enjoyed a second life as a lesson horse for Square Peg and now, lords it over every coyote and creature he meets on the trails around my house. My daughter, a neurotypical child, has found a place in Square Peg that both challenges her intellect and accepts her eccentricities.
I am a 14 year old volunteer and I have been with Joell since I was 7 or 8. This place is like my second home. I take a lesson once a week, and I LOVE it. During the summer I usually help with the summer camps and that's super fun too. The kids are sweet and I really love the learning aspect and how excited they get to ride. Joell, Greg, and Sigourney are amazing people who are great teachers and riders too. The horses are definitely amazing, the barn pets are sweet, and the kids obviously love to be there. What I love the most is the on-hands learning. At other stables barn chores are dismissed and let for others to deal with. Here, every aspect of being at a barn are learned (barn chores, feeding, medical, tack, cleaning, safety etc.) I love this place and its amazing!!!! It makes a huge difference in my life and I know it makes an even bigger impact in the kids lives :)
Your time and money show immediate results. Joell Dunlop provides a sanctuary for kids with special needs and unwanted horses. At first glance, Square Pegs is a small coastside riding facility, but dig a bit deeper and you'll see so much more. Some of the kids shoveling stalls or sweeping up are 'at-risk' kids getting their first chance to enjoy the outdoors and bond with large animals. Some of them are 'special needs' kids who would never get the chance to ride in any other environment. Some are kids just out for a riding lesson. You can't always tell by looking or talking to them, and they all get the same patient and caring attention. It's truly a unique environment and I learn to be a better person every single time I'm out there.