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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

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

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

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

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Sonrise Equestrian Therapy has really helped our almost non-verbal kid. Now, he loves Horses can call the Horses names and the command. Its like having Physical , Occupational and Speech Therapy in one place. Thanks to all the Teachers and the Volunteers for doing such an awesome Job.

Danna P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Sonrise has helped our daughter in so many ways:
Her speech- she has to call out commands to the horses
Her motor skills- She has to have proper form and know how and when to work the reins. Also, latching and unlatching the horse.
Her ADHD- She has to pay attention & focus in the moment when on and around the horses.
Her Anxiety- She has to remain calm when she's around the horses.
Her Social Skills- She interacts with the volunteers & other kids. They have to work together.