Square Peg Foundation
Services: Sanctuary, Rehabilitation, Retraining/Adoption, Equine-Assisted Program
Location: Half Moon Bay, CA
Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 15
Square Peg Foundation was established in 2004 as an adaptive riding program for children with learning and/or developmental disabilities such as autism, ADHD, and Tourette’s Syndrome.
The innovative organization, headquartered in Half Moon Bay, Calif., offers a creative, healing approach to teaching students and training horses based on mutual need – the horses, some of whom were rescued from undesirable circumstances, benefit as much as the people involved.
Square Peg’s simple but powerful mission statement is: “We turn ‘I wish’ into ‘I can.’ ” Children learn to ride and care for animals much larger than themselves and in the process become advocates for those who have no voice, thus gaining a sense of confidence and empowerment.
Executive director and co-founder Joell Dunlap described Square Peg as providing a “yes” environment, “an intense experience that shows students they are capable of so much more than they imagined. The horse is a gentle judge of character, a unique example of gentleness and power who responds to all people according to their intentions – not to their age, size, race, or social status. We focus on building self-image, one student at a time.”
The 22 Square Peg horses, ranging in age from 3 into their 30s, found their way to the program in need of second – or third – chances. Many are Thoroughbreds who have been integrated into this adaptive horsemanship program for children, among them stakes-placed Momotombo; the aptly named Autism Awareness; Irresponsible King (aka “Stanley”), a royally bred son of Kingmambo and grandson of champion Eliza who knows tricks in addition to jumping, trail riding, and performing dressage; and Mythical Storm, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus who raced in Southern California and won at Santa Anita in his debut.
Square Peg offers specialized private or group classes for basic riding.
Square Peg Foundation Success Stories