The Hoofbeat: September 2019
Rider Success Story
Mark Z. was born in Buffalo, New York. He moved to Santa Barbara to attend the Pacifica Graduate Institute after completing four years of service in the United States Marine Corps, including two tours of duty in Iraq. While interning at Hospice of Santa Barbara, he learned about Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center. Mark was grappling with chronic back pain related to an injury he sustained while in the service. He was hesitant to engage in physical activities for fear of exacerbating his injury, and this was affecting his overall quality of life.

Mark immediately found solace in the Equine Services for Heroes Program . Not only did therapeutic riding help to alleviate his back pain, but it relieved his anxiety related to exercise in general. Mark realized that he could lead a strong horse, lift heavy western saddles, and even sit the trot without straining his back. In addition to receiving physiological benefits from therapeutic riding, Mark took great pride in his accomplishments as a horseman. His favorite aspect of the program was the connection he developed with his fellow veterans and his horse, Chief.

This fall the platoon members of the Equine Services for Heroes Program proudly celebrated as Mark earned his Master's in Counseling Psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute. Captain Shannon McGraw, Equine Services for Heroes Lead Instructor, and the entire Hearts team wish Mark unbridled success in his new career.

As a gesture of gratitude for their service, veterans are never asked to pay to for lessons. Instead, Hearts relies on the generous donations of community members to underwrite tuition costs.
If you would like to learn more about our Equine Services for Heroes Program visit our website .
Mark sitting the trot on Chief, his equine partner
University of Missouri Study Finds Therapeutic Riding Significantly Decreases PTSD in Veterans

“Results showed that participants in the program experienced a significant decrease in PTSD scores, almost 67 percent, after just three weeks of Therapeutic
Horseback Riding (THR),” Johnson said. “After six weeks, participants experienced an 87 percent drop in PTSD scores. Interestingly, the veterans who self-identified for the study all were from the Vietnam War era meaning that some of these military veterans had been experiencing PTSD symptoms for 40 or 50 years. It may be important for health care systems to support THR as a viable complimentary therapy.”

Read the full Military Medical Research article here .

Volunteers Change Lives

Interested in joining our volunteer team? Contact our volunteer program manager, Sarah for more information.

We are currently looking for volunteers for upcoming Fall sessions. This is a great opportunity to spend time outdoors with Hearts horses and community members. Volunteers assist participants in mounted and unmounted lessons on the picturesque Hearts Ranch in Santa Barbara. No equestrian experience is required to join the Hearts team.

Training session dates:

New Volunteer Training 10/19 from 1:30-3:30 PM

Contact Sarah to RSVP for the training.

Sponsor a Hearts Horse
Pippa and Vinnie visiting our friends at The ALPHA Resource Center
Interested in sponsoring a Hearts horse? Contact Morgan to a schedule a visit with one or all of our 6 horses currently available for sponsorship. Perks of sponsorship include your name or business name on the horse's stall, recognition online and at events, and visits to Hearts to spend time with your horse. Contributions are 100% tax deductible.
Pippa & Vinnie

DOB: Pippa 2016, Vinnie 2003
Color: Paint
Breed: Miniature Horse
Height: Pippa 8 hands, Vinnie 9 hands
Weight: Pippa 211 lbs, Vinnie 310 lbs

Pippa and Vinnie serve as equestrian ambassadors in Hearts' Minis on the Move program. Together they deliver smiles and therapeutic services to those unable to visit the Hearts Ranch. Most recently, Pippa and Vinnie enjoyed visiting the residents of Sarah House, one of Santa Barbara's hospice homes. Participants of the ALPHA Day Program were overjoyed to host the minis at their local ALPHA Resource Center.

For students of Hearts' Therapeutic Riding or Equine Facilitated Learning Programs who are fearful of horses, our minis serve as non-intimidating starter equines. Using our miniature horses, students can learn all of the grooming, leading and horsemanship skills necessary to be successful with their future full-size equine partners.


DOB: 2003
Color: Red Roan
Breed: Quarter Horse
Height: 15 hands
Weight: 1000lbs.

Kodi worked as a solid trail horse for Los Padres Outfitters in his former career. Because of his strength, he provides safe and secure lessons to our larger riders who aren’t appropriate for our taller horses.

Pictured here is rider Oscar and Kodi. Oscar is visually impaired and relies on Kodi greatly during lessons. Kodi is incredibly dependable and is often referred to as our trusty 4x4 truck. He’s solid, confident, and comfortable to ride. One of our instructors says Kodi is a true democrat – he wants to have his vote! This quality certainly comes in handy when working with riders like Oscar, who depend on Kodi’s knowledge and skill to have a safe and fun ride.


DOB: 2009
Color: Palomino
Breed: Quarter Horse
Height: 15 hands
Weight: 1050lbs.

If you looked up “mare” in the dictionary, there would be a photo of Lucy! She is expressive and great at giving feedback to our EFL (Equine Facilitated Learning) clients. She is the youngest of all of our horses, and she has the energy to prove it! She is very bright and responsive to the aids of her riders.

Pictured above is rider Julian and Lucy, his favorite horse. Julian lovingly refers to Lucy as “Goldie” – an appropriate nickname given her gorgeous gold coloring! Julian loves to ride Lucy and has progressed immensely as a young rider with her help. Lucy is gentle and responsive to Julian and her other riders, and has shown a great interest in our unmounted classes. Lucy is a gifted horse and reminds everyone around her that blondes indeed have more fun!

Hearts 101: An Inclusive Tour
Experience the heart and soul of our organization! Join us for Hearts 101: An Inclusive Tour.

Come out to the Hearts ranch to learn more about our expanded programs, recent news, and the amazing individuals we serve. There are many opportunities to bring friends and family throughout the year to see our mission in action!

Join us on:

Tuesday, October 22nd at 10:50 am

Please RSVP using the link below
If you are unable to attend the scheduled tour but would like to learn more about Hearts' programs, contact Lily to schedule a private tour.
Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center | (805) 964-1519 | |