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San Rafael, CA horse therapy program gets big boost

<i>Dickson County Emergency Management/WSMV</i><br/>A horse was rescued from a collapsed barn in Dickson County
Arif, Merieme
Dickson County Emergency Management/WSMV
A horse was rescued from a collapsed barn in Dickson County

By Kenny Choi

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    SAN RAFAEL, California (KPIX) — A North Bay non-profit running a horse therapy program that helps children and adults with special needs just got a major donation that could expand its role and reach in the community.

Every week, Jen Subin guides one of the horses at Halleck Creek Ranch outside San Rafael in Marin County. Her friend Jenna, lives with Down Syndrome.

“Sometimes (Jenna) has harder days like everybody else. Today she’s in a really good place,” Subin said.

It’s that intimate connection that brings Subin here four times a week as a volunteer. She’s a nurse who has also found therapeutic healing while brushing “Coaxie and spending time with the gentle giants.

After a warm-up, Jenna signals she’s ready to “walk-on” and take Coaxie for a longer walk through the valley.

“I love how confident she is on the horse and joyful. It continues after she’s done with her ride and lit up with excitement,” said Jenna’s mother Beth Seto.

This horse-riding therapy program for children and adults with special needs brings people from across the Bay Area to the secluded ranch in Nicasio Valley.

Thirty percent of its participants receive scholarships and the non-profit recently received a land donation of 120 acres from philanthropist Maya Kristin.

“It’s an amazing gift. We are going to do the work to lay the foundation for success and the future,” said Sara Gallagher of Halleck Creek Ranch.

The donation could allow for an expansion of programs including therapy riding which many children and adults rely on.

“It makes an amazing difference. The lives of these families — it’s a treasure for me to be part of that every week. It makes me keep coming back and back,” Subin said.

For Jenna and Jen, they’ll keep getting closer with every ride.

The therapy riding program has more than 130 people enrolled weekly.

The ranch hopes to increase that number in the years to come.

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