Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship in Newbury Park Serves the Disabled

Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship teaches horseback riding to children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. Founded in 1994, Ride On has given over 81,000 safe, effective and individualized lessons and therapy treatments. Serving the Conejo Valley, Ride On's Newbury Park site is operated in partnership with the Conejo Recreation and Park District. In the San Fernando Valley, Chatsworth is home to a newer facility and 3 acre ranch.

Ride On serves over 200  riders each week at its 13 acre Newbury Park location at 401 Ronel Court and its Chatsworth location. The minimum age for therapeutic riding is 4 years old and all disabilities are served, both mental and physical.

Therapeutic riding is a unique combination of sport, recreation and education. Specially trained NARHA qualified instructors use their knowledge of disabilities to teach horsemanship skills to riders with varying ability levels. A typical therapeutic riding lesson involves safety on and around horses, warm up exercises, games and riding skills including equitation and obstacle. Increased balance, strength and self esteem are some of the benefihts of this wonderful recreational activity.

Ride On also offers hippotherapy for clients as young as 2 years old.  Hippotherapy is the use of the horse’s movement for rehabilitation. Licensed Therapists properly position the patient on the horse, analyze the patient’s response and direct the horse’s movement to achieve specific patient treatment goals. Hippotherapy facilitates improved balance, posture, mobility, communication and behavior for patients of all ages and many disabilities.

Ride On’s primary funding sources are income from lessons, grants, special events and private donations. Ride On is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Visit www.rideon.org or call 805.375.9078 for more information.

The Santa Monica Mountains Fund Promotes Stewardship and Protection of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the United States at over 150,000 acres, extending from the Hollywood Bowl on the east to Point Mugu at its western end; including the beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu as well as the canyons and peaks extending north to Simi Valley.

The Santa Monica Mountains Fund promotes and assists the park agencies of the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area in accomplishing their missions. Together, they foster the protection and enjoyment of park resources by the public through education, research, improved facilities, citizen engagement and stewardship.

The Fund invests in projects to achieve the mission of the organization. Principal recipients are the park agencies that operate within the mountains. In addition, the Fund sponsors research projects, internships and provides stipends to augment the staffing resources available to successfully complete these projects.

"Balanced Rock" off of the Mishe Mokwa Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains in one of many scenes that leave visitors to the park in awe.

The Santa Monica Mountains Fund was established in 1988 to support the education and resource protection efforts of the National Park Service and California State Parks in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It was formed by concerned citizens to represent the interests of the public in the development of parklands and recreation opportunities within the mountains.

To learn more about the Fund and to donate, visit www.samofund.org.

Just a few of my favorite Santa Monica Mountains adventures:

View from Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, towards Newbury Park.

It's Hard, Miserable and Sometimes Deadly to be Homeless in Thousand Oaks

By Nancy Needham (nancy@conejovalleyguide.com)

Colder weather and rain means misery for Thousand Oaks homeless who live outdoors most of the year. Cooler temperatures for those with homes might signal it's time to bake cookies or light a fire in the fireplace. For the homeless it could mean they must stay inside their cars, if they are fortunate enough to have a vehicle, or that they must hunker down inside their tents or canvas coverings in the bushes they call home. It is almost impossible for them to get dry once they get wet. Some just find a building overhang they can use as shelter, hoping nobody minds them being there.

According to the Ventura County Homeless & Housing Coalition, 80 homeless people currently call Thousand Oaks their "home," while 71 of those said they sleep in Thousand Oaks. These counts are roughly 20% lower than prior year counts.

Diana Ortuno, Lutheran Social Services program managerThere are many possible reasons for the decline, including some found homes. But Lutheran Social Services-Community Care Center program manager Diana Ortuno said 14 of her homeless clients in Thousand Oaks had died in the last 18 months. A homeless man she worked closely with recently died behind a drugstore. His body was found by another homeless man, she said.

"It's hard to be homeless. Many have addictions. They have health problems. The man who died had lost his will to live. The last time I talked to him he said he hoped he would die because he was in so much pain," Diana said.

Diana tries to help. She said it would be helpful if people would donate more sleeping bags and backpacks for homeless people to use. The LSS-CCC office, 80 E. Hillcrest, Suite 101, offers those who are down and out a mailing address, laundry facilities, a place to take a shower and even lockers so they don't always have to carry all of their stuff.

There is also a free daily meal program throughout the year sponsored by various Conejo Valley places of worship. This meals program turns into a night shelter/meals program during the winter where men, women and children can stay and sleep on cots after they eat dinner.  Those who spend the night also receive breakfast in the morning and leave with a sack lunch.

Looking to help? Contact these local churches and your help, be it your time or your donations of food, clothing or funding, will be welcomed.