I am a part time volunteer at Giant Steps, helping out when my schedule allows. Every time I do so, the experience leaves me feeling happy, proud and energized. The instructors and barn crew are fabulous....kind, helpful, positive. And the benefit to the kids/adults that use the Giant Step services is palpable in their smiles. Not all non-profit work has such a direct impact....but this one does without a doubt.
We found Giant Steps when my daughter was 6 years old. She struggled with ADHD, NVLD, along with fine and gross motor issues. Giant Steps helped her to become a balanced and more confident person. Eventually, because of her growth with Giant Steps, she went on to train in a more traditional Western pleasure riding program. My daughter is now 20 years old and has done some volunteer work at Giant Steps. I also volunteer there when I am able too. We love Giant Steps! It is a caring and nurturing environment for all.
The people working there are super nice and friendly! The horses are super well behaved, and the other volunteers are patient and helpful too! Not to mention, super clean!!
I have volunteered at Giant Steps for over 7 years. This is an extremely well run organization doing very important work. The impact that Giant Steps equine therapy work has on their diverse clientele of children and adults with disabilities is evident daily. I personally have witnessed children with Autism who started completely non-verbal begin using verbal commands to their therapy horses. The joy these animals provide is palpable! It is one of the best Tun non-profit programs I have encountered. I personally have served on non-profit boards and know a well run program when I see one!
I have been a volunteer since 2010 when I found myself "horse-less" after years of riding and connection with my former horses. I am continually impressed by the kindness and positivity the instructors give to students (my day is Thursday), as well as their concern and love for the horses. For me that is a requirement of any organization that depends on the innate gifts horses offer to humans. I love that we can laugh and treasure the many personalities our equine buddies in the barn have. I am inspired by the progress and delight our riders experience while participating in classes. Support Giant Steps, it will give you back more than you can imagine.
I have volunteered at Giant Steps for about a year, and I have had a great time getting to work with the different kids there, as well as getting to know the amazing staff. I really feel like I am making a difference after every session.
My son has Autism and is able to get therapy at Giant Steps once a week at no cost to my family. They work really well with him and he is constantly talking about Nick the horse. Thanks you guys for all that you do!
I have been riding for one and half years. Every one that has help me with my riding have been very helpful in teaching me the proper way to ride. They have taken the extract time in teaching me the proper way to learn the steps in each of difference way in riding. All the Horses I have ridden up this time have been easy to learn to ride them each one is a little different, with the help of my instructor I have been able to make the chance from one to the other with no trouble .
I would recommend Giant Steps to and on with a handicap to sign up and learn to ride.
I have bone cancer and this has helped me cope with my cancer it has been a joy every Friday
spending the one hour on my horse.
We started equine therapy when our son Aiden, who’s diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, was only 4. After many Occupational Therapies had left us wanting, and Aiden’s head was still tilting to the left, we began looking for out the box answers. It was in this search (+ research of what was actually happening within his head, neck & body) that we arrived at equine therapy. This is how we found Giants Steps of Sonoma Horse Ranch. After being medically cleared for riding, and within a short period of only 2 seasons, Aiden’s head had corrected & his posture had improved !! It was crazy !! Immediate changes were seen in him ! It also showed itself in his Speech + Memory ! He learned ASL sign as a second language ! We incorporated both English + ASL Sign for his communication. His Speech Therapist saw real & extreme improvements during this time, specifically in Articulation. But that’s just one piece. It was the relationship that Aiden developed with his horses...(Odee & Knicker) that really brought changes. Our Guy LOVES riding ! His FAVORITE is Trail riding. He’s such an agile rider ! From 4 yrs old to now...he’s 8. Even more, it’s the folks who are there; Julie, Jen & Meghan. These Ladies R O C K ! It’s their consistent, gentle, yet approving & encouraging way, that causes each rider to enjoy & reach for more! Giant Steps changed our lives...from Aiden whipping his leg up & over Knicker on his own, to him leaning on Knicker in the stalls as he brushed him, to being believed in by Jen & others to ride with ease & confidence. This is Giants Steps to him, and us. They’re Family & We LOVE them & every family who has given & participated for the betterment of our kids. Thank You !
Giant Steps has changed my son's life. He started the program last year when he turned four. He is high-functioning autism and has very low emotional and impulse control. We've been able to treat so many things with other therapies but the thing we struggled with the most and still do are his very aggressive and violent explosions. Spending time at the barn and riding horses gives him a calm that we can't duplicate in other therapies. The program is top-notch and the staff is absolutely incredible. They know just how to support our little one even if he's in the midst of a meltdown. Jen, the Director, has been so kind to allow us to visit the barn whenever we need to and on really tough days - we do. We hop in the car and usually within minutes of being in the presence of the horses and the caring staff, our little guy a kind, happy, joyful boy again. Giants Steps is life changing. I honestly don't know where we would be without them. Thank you to everyone that supports Giants Steps - you are making a difference in many kid's lives in such a positive and long-term way!
I volunteer two days a week at Giant Steps. It gives me such satisfaction to experience the joy and empowerment of adults and children with disabilities when they are mounted on one of our horses. The staff shows such compassion, patience and kindness towards our disabled riders never forcing but encouraging their participation in riding. The same care is given to the horses who have found new purpose in their “retirement!” I even had a student last week compose a song for her horse and continue to sing it with such love throughout the class! I wish I had a video of it to share as I think a picture, or in this case a video, paints a thousand words. However, we are not allowed to do so in order to protect the privacy of our riders.
Trust me when I say that Giant Steps is a safe place for people with disabilities to truly experience their personal power and heart connection with their horse friends!
I have been going to Giant Steps for a year and it has changed my life. It is where I feel the most peaceful and happy and free. I have learned so much and grown so much, but maybe the most important thing is I am learning how to trust people again and not feel so scared in the world and the horses and all the amazing staff and volunteers at Giant Steps are what made that possible. It is the best place in the whole entire universe.
What can I say about volunteering at Giant Steps? It’s just a great place to work. The staff are fantastic...kind, patient, knowledgeable, and always so thankful for volunteers. Literally, I get at least one thank you during my shift and I always get a big thanks at the end. Not only that, but you will be lucky if you find a better run barn. All of this makes my experience working at Giant Steps both fun and rewarding.
This is an amazing charity! I started volunteering this past summer with the horses and clients, adults and children, as they learn how to handle the horses for the annual charity event. While I am unable to continue due to a non-related injury, I was able to see the dedication of the staff on a daily basis to ensuring that the clients are getting the upmost experience.
I’ve been a volunteer ever since my son started as a rider in 2001. I can testify that this program makes a huge difference for riders, their families, and the volunteers who give more than their precious time. They give love. The special horses who serve are gentle, generous, and seem to understand that their riders need extra patience and care. Our family has benefited in so many ways from Giant Steps that I don’t know how we would have fared had we not found this organization.
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.
I have been volunteering with Giant Steps for over 3 years now, and I couldn't be happier. The hours I spend at the barn are the best hours of my week! I love the caring attitudes of the employees and other volunteers, and it's so rewarding seeing the clients make progress toward becoming more confident people around the horses and in life. And of course being around the horses, who are angels, is wonderful too! Giant Steps rocks!
Giant steps is a one of a kind Organization. My daughter suffers from multiple behavioral - psychological conditions. It makes it very difficult for her to trust, make friends, deal with stressful situations and takes a hit on her self esteem. Our family went through a lot of changes since moving to Sonoma County in 2016. Looking for services that are tailored for children like my daughter was difficult and what I could find was very expensive. When a friend suggested equestrian therapy, I thought to myself " There's no way I can afford something like that". And I was right. Then I found out about their scholarships. After months of waiting for the process to be completed and a spot to open up we finally got the call that we were granted the scholarship and they had a spot for her. We both started to cry. The change in my daughter has been positive and steady. The staff are all so kind and gentle with us. My daughter
even got tocompete in on of their annual fundraising events. Her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons are her most prized possessions. The Giant Staps staff and her horse "Pepe'" are blessings to our family
I have been volunteering at Giant Steps for over 5 years now and every day that I spend there makes me realize what a special place it is; not only for the students, but also for the volunteers, staff, family members and caregivers.
The sense of community and nonjudgmental acceptance of all fosters an environment where everyone can learn and grow at their own pace.
The mission of Giant Steps is to enrich lives through the power of horses and I have witnessed firsthand what the power of horses can have on an individual, regardless of ability.
What Giant Steps gives to its student riders is independence - independence that comes in all shapes and sizes. I am proud to volunteer at this most inclusive, kind and warm community that serves all its students with respect, dignity and encouragement.
My daughter, Suzie has Down syndrome and has been participating at Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center for many years. The staff has ALWAYS been amazing with her and she has greatly improved her balance and her coordination. Initially, she formed a wonderful relationship with the trainer and one or two volunteers, but she was not trusting (or friendly) with others and would not let any new staff or volunteers help her. The staff and volunteer's patience and direction has made her more trusting - not only at Giant Steps, but in her daily life. Recently, Suzie was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's. The staff and volunteers have stepped up to the challenge by providing her with a very safe and helpful environment to ride "her" horse, which is the highlight of her week.
Giant Steps is an amazing place! The staff are knowledgeable, helpful, patient, kind and authentic. It is such a special place for the kids they work with and their families. We are so lucky to be able to get help for our child there.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I love voulenteering there! The staff and clients are awesome!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
My granddaughter has been riding at Giant Steps for over two years. The progress she has made is amazing. Her cerebral palsy affects the left side of her body so when she first started riding her body leaned to the left and she sagged forward. You should see her now--riding has strengthened her core muscles, she sits up straight and tall and is so proud that she can use her arms and legs to guide her horse. The instructors and other staff are caring and ever so professional. The volunteers are amazing and kind, they know us by name and make my grandaughter feel so welcome. At the end of every lesson my grandaughter is happy and relaxed. We can't say enough wonderful things about Giant Steps.
Amazingly dedicated and hard working group of people getting wonderful results with participants. The physical improvements and the joy they experience are very evident.
Good people helping people with disabilities - that's Giant Steps!I've never seen such a dedicated group of volunteers and staff. They love what they do here, and that makes a huge difference. It meant the world to me that these wonderful people were willing to give of their time to help my child succeed better in life! My son developed a longer attention span, communication skills, and problem solving skills. But, mostly, he learned to have a relationship with his 1200 lb best friend! This organization deserves your support!
What I enjoy most about working with Giant Steps is that we see real results every day and are able to improve the lives of so many people. The caliber of the staff and the volunteers is extraordinary. It amazes me that we are able to serve such a diverse range of people, from all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability. There is a real draw and a very special energy watching our riders in the arena, and witnessing the commitment and dedication of all involved has touched me greatly.
Giant Steps is an awsome organization, the love and care shown to the clients is amazing. It is so heartening to me to see the happiness the horses bring the students and watching them progress through this program makes my volunteeing so worth it!
I have been living with scoliosis all my life. My doctors told me that if the curvature in my spine did not improve that I would be headed for back braces and possible hunchback posture as I aged. I started riding at Giant Steps one year ago. My spine went from 17% curvature to 5.8% and is still straightening out! The staff and volunteers at Giant Steps are nothing short of amazing and I am so grateful to be a part of the family there. One day, I got to witness two women living with Down Syndrome ride off-lead for the first time ever. What a huge accomplishment for these ladies! this will directly translate to increased independence for them in daily life. I cried with their mothers when I saw it. the team dedication, the care of the horses, and the loving atmosphere cannot be surpassed. Thank you to an incredible organization!
Hoorah! The former Exec. Director retired. Now we have a new, talented Exec. Director, and I have great hopes for the future of Giant Steps!
I had the pleasure of visiting Giant Steps earlier this year and was so impressed by the level of care provided to a very fragile child with multiple disorders and challenges. The folks at Giant Steps believe in what they are doing; they've seen the small miracles that change lives and bring hope to families. Dedicated staff and volunteers and wonderfully gentle horses make it posssible for children with severe disabilities to learn to walk, to speak their first words, and maybe most importantly, to smile and laugh.
The Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center is dedicated to helping heal emotionally and physically disabled children and adults through caring for and riding horses. I have known about this fabulous group of dedicated staff and volunteers, and about the magic they perform since 2004. I have seen them greatly enrich many lives. The quality therapy they provide allows each rider, as well as his/her family, to live a richer, fuller life than they ever imagined. I proudly support Giant Steps Equestrian Therapeutic Center.
Giant Steps is one of the most wonderful organizations I have had the pleasure to work with over the past 20 years. The services offered are truly changing the lives of their clients as well as the entire family; the quality of the staff is unequaled; and the volunteers are amazing!
As a physician, I cannot recommend this facility highly enough. Children and adults alike experience healing and recovery that is unparalleled in medicine. The referral process is straight-forward and efficient. The leadership and staff are trained professionals, and horses absolutely magical. I wish I had more tools like this in primary care.
It is so heart-warming to witness first hand the miracles produced by this incredible organization in its effort to add fulfillment to the lives of mentally, physically and emotionally disabled children.
This premier therapeutic equestrian center has it all: capable, caring and committed founders who continue to direct and manage the day-to- day operations; dedicated and competent volunteers that help in so many ways, a board that truly reflects the diversity and energy of the community, and--best of all--the many young client/riders, who work so hard to secure the profound benefits of therapeutic riding.
This extraordinary therapeutic equestrian center has it all. Great underlying management strength and direction by its founders, a well-rounded board of directors reflecting the best of the community, capable and caring volunteers and, best of all, a community of young clients whose commitment and progress inspires every9one daily.