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Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal-Related, Animals, Education, Equestrian, Health, Sports, Voluntary Health Associations & Medical Disciplines

Mission: Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals with physical, behavioral and developmental challenges through the extraordinary benefits of therapeutic riding and related equine assisted therapy.

Results: From a program that started by serving 100 riders each year, we have grown to become a program that serves more than 100 riders each week. Over 90% of our riders achieve their stated goals in each session. We also maintain an active volunteer corp of 175. Without them, we could not do our work.

Target demographics: Any child or adult with a disability who can be helped by therapeutic riding!

Geographic areas served: Greater San Francisco Bay Area - riders come to us from 7 counties

Community Stories

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had almost no experience with horses when I first came to Giant Steps. I was really scared when I first started coming to the program, but the instructors, volunteers, and the horses at Giant Steps have made such a difference in my life. It is one of the brightest times in my whole week, when I feel the most calm and connected. I didn't even know it was possible to feel so free and happy.

1 heatherbellsf

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter rides at Giant Steps. This organization, the amazing staff and dedicated volunteers have enriched my daughter’s life so much. The continuity of volunteers and bonding with the horse she rides every week has given her so much confidence. She has something now that is her own and she excels at a sport that no one else in her family knows how to do! The talented instructors have taught her proper riding skills and have helped her be more aware of her body. She has cerebral palsy and is hemiplegic. Her riding lessons have helped her engage her left hand side more and to use her legs. Her posture has improved tremendously. I marvel at her confidence as a rider.

In addition, I have become a volunteer at Giant Steps. Every week I look forward to my time in the barn helping such a wonderful organization. Clients, horses and volunteers are all treated with such respect and compassion. I feel so lucky to be part of the Giant Steps community. There is so much dedication to make therapeutic riding accessible for all. Seeing the range of ages, abilities and backgrounds of the riders who benefit from Giant Steps is truly humbling and inspiring.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After moving to California from Connecticut where I was highly involved with Therapeutic riding I was privileged to become involved with Giant Steps. I spend three hours volunteering there every Saturday and have grown to love the staff, the horses and especially the riders that I work with. At the end of a stressful work week Giant Steps is the place where I can always count on having a smile on my face and warmth in my heart

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Giant Steps for 4 years.
during this time I have seen wonderous changes in the riders I have worked with. Sometimes it might be just a smile, being able to weave the cones, or just going on a trail ride off lead. The volunteers and instructors are absolutely incredible !! The instructors know how to match up a horse to accommodate a rider's special needs so the rider gets the most benefit from his session. Unfortunately, I have too many heart warming stories to put in this space. Working as a volunteer with the instructors and riders, makes all feel good and look forward to coming back.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of my goals when I retired was to work with therapy horses. I learned about Giant Steps from a friend and immediately contacted them. In June I attended the training and have been volunteering since. I am humbled by the dedication of the staff and the gentleness of the horses. What an extraordinary feeling to see a rider’s face light up when they are on the horse. It is a gift to be part of this amazing community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I retired in 2013, I decided to look for someplace to volunteer that involved horses. After an online search, I found Giant Steps. I sent an email expressing my interest and stated my background in horses. Whithin 15 minutes after sending the email, I got a response thanking me for my interest and I made an appointment to come up the next day. I was welcomed with open arms to become a member of their volunteer team.
I really had no idea what to expect and I quickly found out how gratifying it is to be a volunteer there. I have worked with children and adults who are all there for a variety of reasons. To be able to see kids who are timid or distant the first time they arrive soon transform when they start to get comfortable there has been amazing. In the 5 years I have been there, it has been very rewarding seeing the improvement not only in the riders abilities but also with their social skills.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a very lucky man. After a 30 year career in the San Francisco Fire Dept., I decided to look for a way to give back. A very small notice in the local paper that said Giant Steps was looking for volunteers to work with people and horses jumped out at me. That was 2008, and I'm still there. Giant Steps isn't just about horses and riders, but smiles and laughter, family and friends, improvement and recovery, discovery and determination. I'm sure I've gotten much more out of it than I've put in, and I'm still enjoying the ride.

3 Angelika Pfeifer M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is a rider here and it has been such a wonderful experience for her. She rode at another facility before, and the difference in programs when we came to Giant Steps was incredible. The facility is so beautifully maintained, and the horses are happy and treated with so much care. The instructors are so patient, while still be able to push the riders to increase their skill level. We have also loved all the volunteers. My daughter has the same horse and volunteer with her each week and has built a great relationship with both of them. Her lesson is the highlight of her week.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer for over 7 years now and it is highlight of my week! The organization is amazing. The staff, teachers and horses always take such care with the participants. The variety of classes they offer is great. I mostly work with challenged kids and adults and to see them progress over the years is so special to me. To see them take that Giant Step getting on a horse for the first time after weeks of trying but being to scarred, then riding around the arena slowly letting go of their fear, the smile of achievement is amazing!
Thank you Giant Steps for all you do.

2 CrazyBarnLady

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was a rider here for ten years, and I’ve been volunteering for much longer because I believe in, and have seen, the good these people and horses do. I’ve seen Giant Steps grow from twenty riders to well over a hundred, from a barely-scraping-by program to a premiere organization. Because of the talented leadership and enthusiastic team of volunteers, I am very optimistic about the future of Giant Steps.

Donor

Rating: 2

As a long time donor and engaged philanthropist with many non profits throughout the Bay Area, I found the lack of culturall diversity rather shocking. There seems to be a disconnect between the organization and the community it serves. Otherwise a quite lovely mission.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve been helping out at Giant Steps for about 2 years. I am always impressed with the riders, their families, the staff and instructors as well as my fellow volunteers. And the horses!

I can’t remember a day where I didn’t drive out saying to myself, “that was a good day at the barn”.....no matter what crummy mood I drove in with.

Giant Steps is amazing and serves more people than they know

2 Courtney G.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Giant Steps for 6 years. Volunteering here is the highlight of my week. I have met some wonderful people volunteering for this amazing program. The program has a clear mission and is well organized.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered here on and off over the years. It is truly a magical experience watching the clients and horses bond and work together to accomplish the clients goals however small or big.

1 Robin R.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love voulenteering there! The staff and clients are awesome!!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Giant Steps provides an amazing service for members of the community. It attracts students with many different disabilities some of whom drive for over an hour to participate in therapeutic riding lessons. It has a dedicated staff who give many hours beyond those expected of them and has created a community among its volunteers. Giant Steps is a gem of an organization that deserves recognition.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have the privilege of spending my work days with children with autism, "at risk" teenagers, veterans, young people with visual and hearing impairments and wonderful groups of dedicated volunteers. Most weeks I feel like I learn more from my students than they do from me. Seeing the compassion they have for the horse they ride, watching them overcome fears and canter for the first time, and seeing them laugh when they feel a bouncy trot. It is a wonderful privilege to witness the growth that happens in just one week spent with the people and horses at Giant Steps. Just this week I saw the joy that one of my students gets from just being able to put her hands on a horse. You can positively feel the excitement coming off her when she waits to mount her horse. In just three classes she has started to halt her horse with some measure of independence. The truly amazing thing is this young rider has both visual and hearing impairments, but what you notice when she is on a horse is that she has a smile that could light a room.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been a paraplegic for 32 years. I started riding when I was 9 years old, and was absolutely in love with them as a teenager. When I was injured in a car accident at 21 years old I thought my riding days were over. Now I get to enjoy riding, petting, and talking to my favorite animals because of Giant Steps. They make it affordable and safe for a person like me to enjoy the magic of the horse. Not only do they provide good horses, but the staff and volunteers are so kind and understanding. I know my life is healthy and happy because of the Giants Steps Therapeutic Riding Program!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The instructors and staff, the clients, and the horses all make Giants Steps truly special. You notice right away the joy people experience every time they drive into the parking lot, and it’s because of the great and dedicated people who are involved. As a volunteer, I’m constantly amazed at the high caliber of the instructors, firing on all levels during a riding session. They are good teachers, caring task masters, and inspiring negotiators with each client. The riders are learning, trying, and changing before your eyes, benefiting both physically and emotionally from each session. It is a joy and reward to be involved with such an inspiring, well-run, and enriching program.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Giant Steps is truly a miracle. Trained instructors pair with trained horses and create magic for their "students". Movement and balance are achieved. Milestones accomplished. The joy on the faces of the students is a marvelous thing to see. It's magic. It works.

1 Susie9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Giant Steps for almost thirteen years. Giant Steps instructors work on the individual needs of each rider. The instructors are amazing as are the volunteers. I've never worked with such a caring, loving, talented group. I have seen riders come in wheelchairs and eventually learn to walk. I seen riders come with no speech and begin talking. I've seen riders come with very little upper body strength be able to sit strong and tall. The riders accomplish so much from learning to focus, build upper body strength, develop confidence and learn empathy! It's an amazing organization!