Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 5:19 am | Fair 37º


Inspiring Stories From Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center

Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center recently hosted its 8th Annual Pegasus Luncheon, attracting more than 300 people to the Coral Casino’s La Pacifica Ballroom at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara.
The invitation-only event is held annually to update and educate the organization’s supporters and people interested in what they do and raise funds for its equine-facilitated programs.

“The Pegasus Luncheon is a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn more about equine therapy and the work we are doing at Hearts,” said Alexis Weaver, executive director of Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center.

“Our speakers’ stories are just a few examples — every day I see our programs continuing to change countless lives and inspiring people from all walks of life.”

Since 1985, Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center has improved the lives of individuals with physical, emotional and cognitive challenges, illnesses or injuries, in Santa Barbara County through equine facilitated activities and therapies.

Board president Andy Dowen welcomed guests, who enjoyed a gourmet lunch and silent auction while listening to riders’ stories, highlighting the positive impact Hearts has had on their lives.
“Sometimes it’s a simple lesson from a wise teacher that can change the trajectory of your life forever,” said Hearts volunteer Carma Caughlan. “As many of you that have been involved with horses know, they are wise teachers.”

Caughlan emphasized the importance of encouraging self-confidence in girls and helping them realize their true potential.

Her own experience with horses as a child — which taught her bravery, independence and responsibility — led Caughlan to connect Hearts with Girls Inc., providing young girls in the community with a unique opportunity to build leadership and life-skills through horsemanship.

At the end of the program, the girls exhibit more self-confidence, communication skills and teamwork capabilities.
Lowell Boardman, whose daughter started showing signs of developmental delays in the first grade, shared her inspirational journey with Hearts.

“It was almost as though someone had turned on the switch once she was on the horse and began responding to the movement of the horse,” said Boardman. “Hearts Therapeutic provided a way for her to connect with her other therapies, and she never looked back.”
Boardman’s daughter ultimately transitioned from special education to the mainstream classroom, aced her SATs, went on to college and entered a masters in neuroscience program.

“Today, thanks to her commitment to succeed and Hearts Therapeutic Riding, my daughter is a neuroscientist,” said Boardman.

Philip Bugay shared his elderly father’s remarkable connection to horses and Hearts. “Despite growing difficulties in dealing with everyday life, horses made sense. Among horses there was a rediscovered clarity for my father,” said Bugay. “His best minutes, hours and days are now around horses.”
Anita Fernandez-Low, director of Intensive Community-Based Treatment for CALM, discussed the life-changing equine therapy Hearts provides for children and adolescents impacted by trauma.

Fernandez-Low described one client with a traumatic history of abuse and neglect who found sanctuary at Hearts, which helped build her trust and resilience.
“Just being in the presence of the horses caused this client to change her demeanor from angry hostility to one of protective solicitation of the horses’ welfare,” she said.

“Her teacher was able to see the positive changes in her attitude, social interactions, attendance and achievement at school after she had connected with the horses and the loving community at Hearts.”
Guests were invited to invest in Hearts’ mission to inspire, strengthen and motivate people of all ages and capabilities through equine assisted activities.
Hearts is grateful for the support of its sponsors, including lead sponsor Rabobank, and the support of its board of directors, expert instructors and facilitators, dedicated volunteers and staff.
For more information about Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center, call 964-1519 or visit

— Daniella Alkobi for Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >