Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Don't Forget -- The Pony Express Rides This Sunday, May 22!

You don't want to miss the Hearts Annual Student Horse Show!

Not only will you be impressed, entertained and inspired, but you can get a rib-stickin' BBQ lunch too!

Click here to see photos from last year's show!

See you this Sunday, May 22, from 9am to 3pm, at Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center, located at 4420 Calle Real in Santa Barbara!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Behind The Scenes: Thank You Gene Granaroli!

Gene with Hearts volunteers Thom Bateman and Harry Vant Erve
Have you heard that Hearts has a brand new, bright blue tractor? Purchased with grants from the Weingart Foundation and the Outhwaite Foundation, the tractor was a dream- come-true for many at Hearts – and especially for Gene Granaroli.
For 6 years, Gene faithfully maintained a 40-year-old tractor that was donated to Hearts by Jean Schuyler in 1985.  In constant need of repair, the ancient tractor eventually became completely unusable. Undaunted, Gene purchased the useless tractor from Hearts, made the necessary repairs himself, and loaned it back to Hearts, free-of-charge.
Gene’s generosity enabled us to maintain our corrals, arenas, pastures and roads while seeking the funds to purchase a new tractor.  When the tractor arrived, Gene inspired Equine Evacuation, a local horse rescue organization, to purchase and build a shelter to give it a new home. Thank you, Equine Evac!
Since childhood, Gene has loved all things mechanical. His family grew vegetables on an acre of farmland, where Gene first learned to drive a tractor. He was 12 years old when his father bought him his first car – a Model A Ford. Since the car did not run, Gene, spent a year acquiring parts and re-building the engine with the help of his pals and a local mechanic. Years later, Gene owned and operated Gene’s Auto Repair on Milpas Street, a thriving business for 43 years.
Gene with his son Mark and the worn-out tractor!
Gene has helped Hearts in countless ways over the years. Along with his son Mark, Gene helped construct the shelters in our horse corrals and built the wheelchair ramp for our Learning Center. He is always ready to transport horses, fix fences, or serve in any way that’s needed. We are truly grateful to Gene for his selfless service and years of dedication to our program.

Seeing Things In A New Way

Kathleen and Bob from the Braille Institute of Santa Barbara visited Hearts the evening of May 4th to train the staff and volunteers on sighted techniques for guiding persons with visual impairments and blindness.  This training was in preparation for a new class at Hearts.  Eight teenage riders with visual impairments are coming to Hearts to ride horses for their first time!

Besides demonstrating the techniques, Kathleen made half of the participants don blindfolds and be led around the Hearts facility. Down stairs, through doorways, up on the mounting ramp and around the arena feeling the fences.  It was an "eye opening" experience and will definately help the staff and volunteers be sensitive to the needs of our newest riders!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Don't Miss The Pony Express! May 22, 2011

The fact that she uses a wheelchair will not stop Isa Topete from riding in a horse show at Hearts on Sunday, May 22nd. You are invited to come watch her!

Our Student Horse Show is the biggest event of the year at Hearts, where children and adults with special needs showcase their equestrian skills before a sold-out crowd of family and community members.

This year, the Hearts “Pony Express” will transport visitors back in time to the wonders of the Old West. You will sip lemonade while cheering for riders, ranging in age from 3 to 73, as they compete for the Blue Ribbon before professional Horse Show judges. A cowboy style BBQ, music, half-time entertainment, and a gift shop for horse lovers will round out the festivities. For directions to the show, visit the Hearts website at
If you are a student at Hearts, you are eligible to ride in the show! Please let Connie know you want to participate by Tuesday, May 10th.

For more information about therapeutic horseback riding, please phone 805-964-1519 or visit our website at

MAY 22, 2011:  9AM - 3PM
4420 Calle Real
Click here for directions!