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SonRise Equestrian Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Children & Youth, Mental Health, Mental Health Treatment, Youth Development Programs

Mission: SonRise Equestrian Foundation is a free, non-profit organization making a positive difference for children living with social, emotional, or physical challenges including terminal illness.

Target demographics: children facing social, emotional, and physical challenges

Geographic areas served: Alameda & Contra Costa counties

Programs: In the Saddle - a horseback riding program geared towards children facing physical and developmental challenges. Lessons partner one child, one mentor, and one horse for a 45 minute session, which includes some grooming and saddling if the child is able. Lessons are personally tailored to accommodate the special needs of each child.

Team Equine -a working ranch program geared towards children facing social and emotional challenges. Supervised by adult volunteers, the kids participate in chores, horse science, riding, and arts & crafts. The activities incorporate life skills like responsibility, work ethic, empathy, and manners. SonRise fosters an environment where the kids can build solid relationships with each other and with positive role models in a healthy community..

Traveling Tails - a program that brings miniature horses into children’s hospice and care homes to visit children who are near the end of life or facing serious medical issues. The minis also visit special needs schools and camps, working with children who have autism and other developmental delays.

Community Stories

59 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SonRise is an impressive program. The staff members and volunteers are organized, educated and passionate about serving Bay Area children. This program has been sustained more than ten years by community donors, volunteers and cheerleaders -- adding to their credibility and strong track record.
But the true story is seen in the faces of the children and families who come through the program. Parents arrive their first day hopeful and relieved to see a group of folks who care about their children, even on the bad days. The kids are sometimes scared of the thousand-pound animal, but by the second or third visit they realize how such a huge animal can provide the comfort and security they've been looking for.
If you're looking for a place to volunteer with purpose, SonRise is it!
If you're looking to financially support a transparent, responsible program for kids, SonRise is it!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was 9 years old when she started pulling out her eyelashes. Then her hair and her eyebrows. What we thought was stress turned out to be trichotillomania, an impulse disorder. A friend who just happened to volunteer at SonRise suggested we put our daughter into their program, and with our therapist's blessing, we did. Words can't express how amazing SonRise is...our daughter learned about horses: brushing, walking, cleaning up after them, even riding. But she was also learning how to calm herself, love herself, and ask for help. SonRise Equestrian is a unique and very special program with incredible people! We are so thankful for them~

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Veronica was 10 years old when she started pulling out her hair, eyelashes, and even her eyebrows. Talk therapy helped a little with her trichotillomania, and then a friend suggested Sonrise Equestrian. After a little bit of shyness around the people (the horses were no problem!), Veronica fit right in. The gentleness of the horses and the loving commitment of the volunteers were exactly what she needed. From helping brush and exercise the horses to cleaning stalls, then riding lessons on to being a volunteer herself, my little girl has grown into a wonderful, loving young lady. She hasn't 'pulled' for quite a while, and the program and people at Sonrise are a huge part of that. Thank you, Sonrise, for all you do!

Client Served

Rating: 5

SonRise Equestrian Foundation was a must during my daughter's recovery while she had Leukemia. The therapy she received with horses gave her an outlet from her day to day struggles. The staff is incredible hands on friendly. They gave her hope and something to look forward to. These times during treatment were very difficult. I do not think we could have gone through them without the help of SonRise. This is a wonderful program. Our daughter is now 10 years old. A 4 year cancer survivor. She remembers every horse she rode and the staff. Thank you for beautiful memories and for helping us get through our hard times.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last summer my daughter, who was born with special needs due to a lack of oxygen at birth, and I volunteered at SonRise Equestrian Foundation. My daughter is living proof of how equine therapy can change the life of special children. I was a bit worried that my daughter would not be accepted to volunteer at SonRise. But after completing SideWalking certification with SonRise and being interviewed, she was accepted. The programs Director said to me that volunteering for many is also "therapy". That they would find roles for my daughter where she would feel useful, be safe, and insure the safety of all.

I decided to also volunteer. I watched a young boy who had not been verbal all of the sudden say "walk on" as he had been instructed during classes for three days but never had spoken. I watched this child and others over our weeks volunteering and knew that lives had been changed forever! Just like that of my daughter's. I have photos I'd love to attach, but SonRise are very strict in requesting all volunteers to keep private our photos as some families are sensitive to photos being posted. If photos will be of help, I will certainly seek permission. SonRise far exceeds any other place I have been offering equine therapy with safety and it goes without saying love and kindness for all that volunteer and attend clases there.

Renee93

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was suggested that I get involved in community 9 years ago and I thought I don't have time. What I learned from volunteering is that everyone has time to make a difference in someone else's life. When you do so your life changes in a way you will never have expected. This is my experience and with out Sonrise and their mission and service to the community I would not be the person I am today. Sonrise has given me the tools to move on to help other non profits but Sonrise will always be my favorite and most inspiring.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son took free horse back riding lessons for two years with Son Rise. It has been a great experience for him. He is always very excited to go to Son Rise. It really makes a difference in his life. The volunteers are so nice and patient with the kids. Thanks for the wonder work with our special need children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at SonRise for about two years. I really do not do much other than welcome the parents and their children to one of the programs run by the foundation. However, I have found that I get a great deal of enjoyment watching the kids and how much fun they are having working with the horses. I also appreciate how much the parents of the children welcome a brief time to watch their child enjoying themselves. I can only imagine that SonRise offers these children and their parents this type of pride and joy in their challenging lives. I must also say the skilled staff and other volunteers I work with help me feel like I am making a valuable contribution.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an amazing nonprofit that uses horses to help children in need. They have a therapeutic riding program that is free for children with disabilities. They also have a traveling tails program that takes miniature horses and ponies to schools, children's hospitals, and children's hospice centers. The connection children make with horses is amazing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SonRise equestrian foundation is an awesome place for children and volunteers alike. Every time I volunteer there, I see miracles happen. This place deserves 5 stars!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Love this foundation. The work they do with the kids is amazing.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Sonrise has been a bright light in my daughter's life. This is a place where our differently abled children have the opportunity to learn and grow while refining their physical and emotional skills. The entire staff is so gifted and genuinely loves the children they serve. Even on days that have been difficult for my daughter process her world, somehow Sonrise and their beautiful horses have been able to break through and make strides with her. Therapies are soo costly and without Sonrise we would not be able to give my daughter this opportunity. Thank you Sonrise

Client Served

Rating: 5

The wait list is long, but worth it! SonRise has been such an amazing and supportive experience for my daughter. She was so nervous when she first stepped into the barn with all the big horses around her, but the staff was patient and really worked with her to get comfortable. And now she loves riding Blackie (the miniature horse), routinely requests to see him at home and looks forward to each upcoming lesson.

My daughter has Down Syndrome and the general low muscle tone and delayed speech that accompanies it. Riding Blackie was so fun and physical that it elicited a variety of new spontaneous speech for her. Their games and activities were very appropriate for her age level and the staff always provided much physical support, as my daughter was not strapped into a saddle which maximized working on her core strength and overall endurance. Pretty incredible when you consider they encouraged my daughter and Blackie to trot around the course.

I've always heard from therapists that Gross Motor and Speech can be complementary. And to some effect, I've seen this when my daughter is on a playground slide, swings or a trampoline. But when these therapies are combined with caring, riding and respecting a real live horse, this becomes an all-encompassing exercise with a natural emphasis on behavior. The dynamic is like no other therapy we've experienced. She is working on so many multi-planar elements, but just doesn't know it because she's outside and just having so much fun.

SonRise offers two summers worth of sessions per child (and then some), free of charge. We've looked into other horse riding therapy places and the prices are steep with no hope of even partial reimbursement from insurance. SonRise is so unique and special in this respect, allowing families to experience the benefits of hippotherapy who otherwise might not be able to.

We are grateful to be a recipient and SonRise is a GreatNonprofit !
Mimi Mack

Linda438

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for SonRise Equestrian Foundation for the past 6 months, and it has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life! Just seeing the smiles on the children's faces as they interact with the horses is priceless! SonRise has the most remarkable staff of instructors and volunteers who put so much time and energy into the program every day. The horses are so gentle with the children and are what make the SonRise program such a safe and special opportunity for these children.

Tanya36

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love Amigo and Treasure and Sarah.
I do my five special steps and wear my boots
I love riding my horse.
Thank you so much.
Leah - age 7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love working with all of the committed volunteers and participating children and teens at Sonrise Equestrian. As a retired teacher I had dreamt of getting back to my love for horses and continuing my work with children. Everyone I have worked with has been selflessly immersed in helping these young people through their connection with horses, helping them to persevere in the face of whatever challenge they might be up against. Through this innovative use of the child's attraction to the horses they naturally developing a can-do attitude and new confidence in themselves.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer at SonRise and I love everything about it. I feel blessed that I get to help out with such an amazing cause and work with such amazing people. Everyone in SonRise is so kind, caring, and loving.

Alexandra21

Client Served

Rating: 5

They have help my son so much it is amazing how riding horse help my child that is autistic and add just come out of his she'll better and be able to so such compassion to animals where he use to be a bit mean to them.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has been riding with Sonrise for a year now. This is a wonderful opportunity, where riders learn not only horseback riding but also how to care for and prepare a horse for a ride. Sonrise volunteers and the staff are gentle and kind, but have high standards that are appropriate to each child's level of function. Amazingly, Sonrise makes this opportunity available to children with special needs at no cost to the family. This level of generosity, and understanding of the financial demands that are placed on a family that includes a child with special needs, is very unusual. Thank you, Sonrise!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love horses and I love helping people, so as a volunteer at SonRise I have been able to have the best of both worlds. SonRise does an amazing job helping people with physical disabilities, as well as other needs. They provide their services to anyone & the horses truly help the people in need, as well as help the volunteers.

Melisa D.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Outstanding staff and volunteers loving on kids that have challenges. A place where children can flourish while interacting with well-kept gentle horses and skilled helpers. Highly recommend!