Since 2003 the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation has led the field in equestrian activities by provided experiential learning therapies utilizing horses to assist youth participants with personal growth and development. Our year-round programs serve and promote both human and animal welfare through collabroative and preventative partnerships.
The majority of kids that come to the ranch are experiencing physical, developmental, behavioral and mental health challenges. In response to these challenges, EAYF has successfully partnered with multiple public and private community organizations to help meet the needs of disadvantaged youth in our community.
EAYF is a Federal registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization serving San Luis Obispo and Kern CA. We receive no government-state funding and have no paid administration.
Together we improve the quality of life for youth while strengthening agency effectiveness in delivering unique comprehensive programs that create opportunities empowering youth to engage in their own life improvement process.
Please, if you support what we are doing, then consider this - we can't do it without your help. We need your financial gift now more than ever to keep our services free of charge for those in need. Your contribution to the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation, regardless of size and scale, is an investment in our community’s youth and future.
Since 2011, Equine Alliance Youth Foundation has been awarded the Best of San Miguel Award in the Individual and Family Services category.
THANK YOU TO OUR SUPERSTAR GRANT SUPPORTERS
Honorable Elizabeth A Baron, Justice Retired
Brent Shapiro Foundation
Brookwood Companies Incorporated
Central Coasts Funds for Children
Henry W. Bull Foundation
Law Offices of Gail D. Solo, A P.C.
Before I came to the ranch I didn’t have lot of horse experience, so I was eager to learn as much as possible while I was there. At the beginning I was a little afraid but for me it became a journey- the journey to self discovery and the mysterious language of horses. Sometimes they challenged me and made me step out of my comfort zone and so many times they shared with me love,joy,sad times and good times.
They are my best friends and wise teachers. They taught me what true leadership is all about- and it is about being firm and strong when it is needed and being gentle and soft when they ask for it.
True leadership for me means when I am at peace with myself and confident about what I do. I trust my gut feeling, knowing when to stand firm, do the right things in life and not follow others down the wrong path.
Working with horses has changed my life completely; I learned so many new things about myself. I became more confident and learned how to set boundaries with horses as well as with people. Horses taught me to work as a team, close together. I listen to horses they listen to me, I read their body language they read mine, I respect them they respect me back.
Life to me now is about living in the present, not past or future, because in the present moment I am creating my own future.
Steven M. age 17
I work with individuals with a history of childhood abuse and neglect. For these individuals the capacity to trust others has been seriously impaired. Many of my clients have been institutionalized due to their high-risk, defensive behaviors, such as, self-harm, self-neglect, destructive relationships, stealing, substance abuse, running away, and fear-based aggression towards adults. These behaviors are ineffective attempts to find a sense of control (safety). Coming from a neurophysiological, developmental, body-oriented approach, I look for opportunities for my clients to learn how find a safe place inside themselves as the foundation for therapeutic trauma recovery.
Three of my clients (two adolescents; one adult) have been fortunate to be able to participate at Equine Alliance. Equine Alliance has provided my clients the opportunity to step outside their usual relational, fear-based patterns (avoidance, shame, self-harm, aggression) and experience themselves without judgment, while learning how to build trust with the horses.
My clients do well with the animals at Equine Alliance; they identify with the horses and the situations from which the horses have been rescued. Since my clients were betrayed by humans who were supposed to protect and nurture them, they have a much easier time connecting to the horses than other humans. The horses are not threatening and do not represent the possibility of another betrayal.
In my experience, traditional psychotherapy which involves sitting and talking often isn’t enough to help clients recover. For many people with trauma, the primary way of feeling safe in the world is to avoid any reminders of abuse or neglect from their past. Talking about the past is like trying to position a canoe upstream and paddle against the current. Verbal dialogue in therapy often produces tension and resistance—a client’s innocent attempt to protect themselves. In other words, until the client learns how to somatically manage waves of fear, terror, and rage – talk therapy just activates the fight-flight-freeze response.
The program at Equine Alliance provides a real life, safe place where my clients have been able to learn how to self-soothe while learning the relational skills needed to connect to the horses. The program requires individuals to learn how to observe, listen, and offer a grounded, reliable, and patient presence with the horses.
Equine Alliance is a much needed resource in our community. Through the diversity of experience and skill-building at Equine Alliance, my clients are developing a sense of confidence in their capacity to feel safe and valued, recognize their worth, and find meaning in contributing to the safety and well-being of the horses—who are also learning how to trust. Helping the horses recover helps my clients recover.
Respectfully, Michele Simone, M.S., Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (MFC 41657)
Dear Equine Alliance,
My name is Brianna and I am 14 years old. I am now living in a group home in San Luis Obispo and would really like help with abused horses for I know what it is like to be abused and having no one that wants you. When I was 7 years old I lived in a van with my mother and two younger sisters. My mom was doing drugs and every day I took care of my two younger sisters and would have to find food for them. We were all taken from our mom and split up into different homes until my mom could get clean and get an apartment but that never happened. So far I have been in 17 different foster homes and it is really hard and lonely. I don’t know anything about horses but have always dreamed of having one of my own and would love to have the chance to help out.
Thank you, Brianna
Although our youth program was full, we were so touched by Brianna’s letter that we invited her out to the ranch the following weekend. Out of all of the horses at the ranch, Brianna immediately bonded with a rescued, shy, neglected mare named Bella. Brianna approached Bella and the love between the two was evident. Bella would never allow anyone to get close to her but had an immediate connection with Brianna. Since that first day the two were inseparable. Brianna came over every Sunday rain or shine for four years and spent many hours working, training and rehabilitating many horses at the ranch. Brianna is 18 years old now and a full time college student. Our Sundays at the ranch will never be the same without her. Brianna has touched many hearts and inspired each and everyone that has had the pleasure of meeting her. She has grown into a wonderful compassionate young lady who has overcome many obstacles in her life. I received this wonderful letter from Brianna on Mothers Day 2010.
You have been like a mother to me and I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for me. You have always believed and seen the best in me even though I could not see it in myself you knew it was always there. I will never forget the time I ran away from the group home and I phoned you in the middle of the night to come pick me up it was that very night things for me began to change.
You made me realize that I had to make a decision in my life and stop using my past as an excuse if I wanted to break the cycle and have peace and freedom. It was really hard for me to trust or believe in anyone I was so depressed and angry at the world. You taught me that I am someone worth loving even when I couldn’t love myself. Now I am living my life the way it should be lived and have learned to forgive others as well of myself.
I am the Director of the Kinship Center, Our facility provides family-based mental health services to children who are in foster care or who have been adopted. Our clients have unique yet recurring issues of grief, loss, and attachment. I am writing to acknowledge the measurable benefits that many of our clients have received since starting in the equine therapy program at the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation.
One, a 13-year old female, was diagnoses as “…uncommunicative, withdrawn socially” with low self-esteem and depressed mood. As she has progressed through the equine program, she is much more verbal and engaged socially. She is excited about participating in the program and discusses her successes with visible pride. I have personally observed her overcoming her fears of attempting new challenges in the program (i.e. riding horses) and witnessed the increase in her self-esteem as she accomplishes new goals.
Another youth, a 12 –year old male, came to our clinic with marked “lack of eye contact, flat affect” and “minimal engagement” with others. When he first started the equine program, he was often oppositional about attending, requiring a lot of encouragement to put his riding boots on and leave the house. Now when we pick him up on Saturdays, he is ready at least an hour ahead of time, as reported by his grandmother. He has gone from a reticent participant, to someone who engages everyone at the Equine Alliance ranch. His improvement affect, eye contact and social engagement have endured outside of the Equine Alliance context as well. It is reported that he has had a significant reduction in negative interactions with peers at school, as well as family members in the home.
The Kinship Center would certainly like to enroll many more of our clients in the equine therapy programs at Equine Alliance.
Sincerely, Ron Huxley, LMFT Kinship Center, Director
"Dear Lori, I am writing to thank you, Jamie and the volunteers at Equine Alliance for the extraordinary level of care and support that you provided not only for our daughter but also for our whole family. Had it not been for the intervention of the horses at Equine Alliance our daughter would not be where she is today, on the road to a new start in life."
— The Hernandez Family
"There are not enough words in my vocabulary to thank all of you at Equine Alliance. You’ve given me the greatest gift of all. You’ve given me my son back."
— Marcia L.
Happy Mothers Day
Your like the mom I've always wanted but never had, You treat me so good and you make me feel wanted and appreciated. You don't judge me for my past, you can see through all of my struggles. I just want to tell you thank you for everything and Happy Mothers Day Lori!
It’s been approximately two years since I noticed a material change in my daughters behavior. Jamie was a truant and a runaway, failing out of school, not trustworthy, had addiction to alcohol and drugs, promiscuous and had physically mutilated her body (cutting). She lied continually and showed no signs of remorse or accountability for any of her behavior. I found myself ill equipped and in over my head with my daughter.
I lobbied, contacted and ultimately requested help from any and all services available in San Luis Obispo County most of which were unaffordable. Transitions Mental Health referred us to a remarkable youth treatment program at Equine Alliance. The court, probation and Equine Alliance put the ball in motion. My daughter reluctantly agreed to participate as her only other alternative was incarceration or out of state placement in a youth facility.
Jamie started at Equine Alliance with many obstacles to overcome. She is currently 2 years sober and we are very proud of her. My daughter continues to flourish in equine assisted therapy and our family feels fortunate and full of gratitude that Equine Alliance has provided Jamie a safe and supportive environment where she is on the right track to recovery. I without any doubt believe that the horses and staff at Equine Alliance saved my daughters life.
Sincerely, Michelle B.
Dear Equine Alliance, I just want to thank you for helping to make what has been not one of the best times of my life, “Not So Bad” . I found your straight forwardness, kindness and cheerful smiles-a balm to the soul. And on top of all that your devotion to the horses and kids was simply amazing! Do they have a Saint for horses and kids?? If not you guys deserve the vote!
Thank you again, Ms. Michaels, Court appointed community service worker
"On behalf of God’s Havens For Children I would like to thank you for coordinating an educational and fun day for our foster children. Your continued support helps us to continue serving local children, youth and their families."
Sincerely, Jim Davis, MPA, Director California Central Coast Services God’s Havens for Children
Equine Alliance Youth Foundation awarded the "Certificate of Appreciation" in recognition of outstanding support given to Kinship Center Family Ties.