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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Sarasota-Manatee Association For Riding Therapy Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Equestrian, Human Services, Special Olympics, Sports

Mission: Enriching the lives of people with special needs through therapeutic horse-related programs. “Empowering lives through the healing power of horses.”

Results: The impact that SMART has on the community is threefold: 1. The therapeutic services we provide at SMART are important, meaningful and effective. In this safe and nurturing environment, the movement of the horse and the connection to the horse are used to heal the body, mind and spirit of every SMART Rider...and we get results. 2. At SMART, a beautiful and comfortable place for a weekly hour of respite is provided to family members during lessons. Knowing that their loved one is safe and receiving competent care, knowledgeable instruction and nurturing attention, the parent or caregiver is free to relax and rest, network with other parents, or spend some quality time with their other children. 3. The positive effects of our program are also experienced by dozens of young people who become SMART Volunteers. These teenagers and college students are the future leaders of our community. At SMART they find a safe and engaging place to grow and become responsible, caring, empathetic, accepting, aware and contributing members of our community. It is because of ALL of these positive effects, impacting many lives, that it is more important than ever that SMART continues to receive the community support and funding needed to carry on its' mission.

Target demographics: Children and adults with challenges and disabilities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 674 children and adults.

Geographic areas served: Manatee and Sarasota Counties in Florida

Programs: Therapeutic horseback riding, carriage driving and equine assisted activities. Through respectful partnerships with our horses, we create an environment that promotes a life of inclusion, respect, growth and independence.

Community Stories

56 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 S Kristen H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am grateful every single day that SMART came into my family's lives. The positive changes that have occurred and continue to occur in our lives many are a direct result of the decision that was made years ago to see just what SMART was about. The difference between that family and the family we are today is night and day Every person, horse, volunteer, student, staff that have crossed our paths have made a positive effect in our lives. Not only has my nephew grown leaps and bounds with the support of the wonderful program so has the whole family. Thank you SMART from the bottom of our hearts. For making my family happy, inspired, and so very proud of being a part of the SMART family!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SMART is a wonderful organization dedicated to helping different individuals with special needs. They offer so many diverse programs that touch so many lives in our community. I had the opportunity to create a painting that was dedicated to their Warriors in Transition program. I attended their annual Mint Juleps and Roses event last year and had a great time. SMART does a lot of wonderful work and they have dedicated staff members and super volunteers. It is a beautiful place!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SMART is a great place to volunteer. The staff is patient and teaches you what you need to know. It's a great environment, not only the grounds, but the people are so nice. I really enjoy being around the horses and helping out when I can. There is something for everyone at SMART. Whether you are a teen or an adult. You will find your special place at SMART.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began my relationship with Sarasota-Manatee Association For Riding Therapy over a year ago. Brandi, Dana and Sam welcomed me with open arms as I was completing a field experience. From there I decided to become a volunteer at SMART because of the kindness, care, patience and love I experienced and saw expressed toward everyone. I see volunteers, staff, participants of all ages and horses being completely excepted where they are, yet challenged to grow and become their own best potential. What a great place to be who I am.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering at SMART four years ago. Everyone was so welcoming and excited to have new volunteers. I had never been around horses before so I was very nervous. The SMART family made me feel safe and taught me everything I needed to know. At SMART everyone is always so thankful and upbeat. Over the years I have become very close with the barn manager and instructor, Ms. Sam. Ms. Sam is an amazing person, always so patient and willing to teach people new things. She has taught me so much about horses and about people. Ms. Sam is someone that I look up to and think very highly of. As a person that struggles with anxiety it is hard to go out and do somethings, but never at SMART. SMART is a judge free environment. The people and even the horses at SMART help you through anything. Everyone always forms special relationships with the horses. But at SMART there is something else that helps you through things, the sensory garden. The sensory garden is a place you can decompress and enjoy the butterflies all around you and look out into the paddocks and see Salsa and Gracie grazing on a warm summer day.

Client Served

Rating: 5

They just don't teach your child to ride horses. For us it has helped our child (autistic) develop awareness of his surroundings, sharing in caring for horses, working with and communicating with wonderful volunteers. Did I mention having fun as well!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had the honor to volunteer with SMART through the Warriors in Transition program. The environment and staff add to the calm and relaxation veterans feel when they attend the sessions. This is by far the best non-profit in the local area. Brandi, Dana, and Sam are the best at what they do. I love volunteering here! Everyone should support this organization. You will appreciate the beauty of the horses, the stillness of the environment, and help veterans, children and those with disabilities. Love this place! (Love to Sterling too)!


Lisa Reese

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a tremendous non-profit! As a teacher, we take a field trip to this facility every year. The people are welcoming and the information they offer is well-delivered and perfectly tailored to my 4th grade students. The horses they have and the therapies they offer come together like the name of their most famous (blind!) horse: it is MAGIC!

Client Served

Rating: 5

August 2018

My Pre-K class had the honor to participate in a real-world experience in spring of 2018 at SMART Farm in Bradenton, FL The children had the most amazing hands-on approach to learning with beautiful horses and volunteers that represented this outstanding organization. The four and five year’s olds groomed and brushed these brilliant horses and even cleaned the mud from their horseshoes. We toured the grounds and walked in the stables as we viewed and learned each horses name. Instantly the children felt connected and comfortable with their surroundings.

With assistance, each child walked along the side of a horse and held onto the reins as they led the horse through an obstacle course. Our class brought the horses fresh carrots to enjoy. We held the large tin bowls filled with carrots as the horses happily crunched with their big strong teeth. I think our new four legged friends were even smiling at us while they quickly finished their treat.

For days and even weeks the children relived their experience they had at SMART Farm. Our class created a memory photo book and who ever came to visit they were invited to sit down and hear all about our field trip to SMART Farm.

Thank you for positively influencing our young minds in Pre-Kindergarten at Out-0f-Door Academy.

Serena Robins
Pre-Kindergarten Teacher
Out-of-Door Academy
Siesta Key, FL

Lindsey M.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The team at SMART is FAB!!! They go the extra mile in every area and are all very kind, patient, and attention driven! They are all passionate about the reason they are at SMART and it truly is an excellent program! Our family highly recommends SMART to any family with a child who has the simplest needs to the most advanced needs!!!

1 ozpawsheal

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Oz and I attend the Warrior's In Transition program at SMART. Oz is a pet therapy dog, but what really makes him special is that he is a rescue dog with a back leg amputation. Veterans are really drawn to him and immediately start to relax while they visit with him. This helps them get even more from the wonderful equine therapy program they are their to attend. I am so thankful for what SMART does for our veterans AND appreciate they were so open minded to us joining them. We (Paws and Warriors) have also helped several of these veterans we have met adopt rescue dogs themselves as companion, emotional support or potential service dogs!

Previous Stories
7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My pet therapy dog Oz and I volunteer with SMART for their Warriors In Transition program helping Veterans and active military with PTSD and TBI. I am a volunteer and donor to SMART because they offer so many great programs that support our community. SMART is also helping make it possible for me to do more to help Veterans locally instead of outside of our county at the VA. SMART not only provides riding therapy that heals individuals, they provide our citizens of all age levels and demographics the opportunity to volunteer and make a difference in the lives of others.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From the first day that I showed up as a volunteer to help clean up after the hurricane I knew this was the place I was meant to be a part of. The staff and other volunteers welcome you and make you feel like part of a family. The care that they show for the horses, the volunteers and especially the people that come to ride and learn is wonderful. I look forward to spending many years working beside these dedicated people and hope to make a difference in peoples lives. I thank them for the wonderful atmosphere that they provide.

Sue Collaud

Corbin C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My family and I toured SMART. WOW!!! What a beautiful setting and so very well maintained. I can't say enough good things about the staff. I was taken on a small tour by Miss Brandi.
She gave us tons of info about every little area of the farm, from horses names, what they eat, where they stay and can't say enough how sweet their turtle Toodles is.

One thing added to this review.. I am very proud of my 14 year son has been and will continue to volunteer for the SMART org. He loves it there and will be a part of his life for a while. :)

1

Donor

Rating: 5

When I learned about SMART in 2012, I thought I would become casually involved with this organization -- a good thing to do in retirement. Now, five years later I'm a dedicated donor helping to support the marvelous difference SMART makes in so many lives. I know that my contributions are supporting the programs at SMART -- making it possible to reach more people every year. And, I know that SMART spends much less than most nonprofits on administration -- making sure that over 95% of every dollar goes to the programs.

I am also a passionate volunteer who can see the changes in individuals after even a couple of lessons -- and as the years go by the significant differences in their physical, emotional, and verbal abilities. I believe that I get as much from SMART -- perhaps more -- than I have from any other activity in my experience.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Warriors in Transition is an equine facilitated learning workshop created to support combat veterans and their caregivers struggling to cope with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries. First introduced in 2009, the program has been conducted in Arizona, Hawaii, California, Florida, Montana, Missouri and Connecticut, but since 2014, it has called SMART home.

Having had the opportunity to conduct this workshop throughout the country at a variety of barns and facilities, SMART is without a doubt the finest organization we've worked with over the years. Much of the contributing value of the workshop is the setting, and SMART provides a pristine environment for conducting the program. It is the unique combination of impeccably trained volunteers, remarkably well cared for horses, and the feeling of service leadership that radiates from each and every staff member that sets SMART apart.

Without a doubt, SMART is the gold standard to which all therapeutic riding facilities should be held.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a Guardian ad Litem, I bring a young nine year old boy to SMART (Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy) each week during the school year for horse riding therapy. He spends an hour learning to ride, learning to communicate with the horse and also grooming and feeding the horses. He has been through a great deal in his short life. He was removed from his mom at a very young age, spent many years in different foster homes, adopted and then removed. Again he is in foster care and this time separated from his three brothers. During the past several months of attending SMART he has become a happy and confident child. He is learning that he can manage and care for a horse and I believe that transfers to him better managing and caring for himself. He is the biggest horse fan you'll ever meet. This opportunity is the biggest gift he has every received.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My husband and I visited SMART to tour their facility. It is a beautiful place with caring and devoted staff members. The horses were well cared for and we witnessed many smiles that day from students during their lesson. A truly wonderful organization that helps so many.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a beautiful place to volunteer. It is scenic and peaceful. The horses and other animals are given the best of care and the people are like a family. This SMART team of helping hands and loving hearts improves the lives of so many people...including mine. ~Linda Fargnoli

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time volunteering with this organization has been amazing!! Everyone is so kind and compassionate. Watching the students grow is very rewarding!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've been volunteering at Sarasota Manatee association for riding therapy almost 3 years. The people that dedicate their time to SMART truly are the best! The programs they offer are extremely helpful for both adults and children.