Square Peg Foundation

Square Peg Foundation

Kemma Peters with Extra Fifty, by Afleet Alex, left, and Irresponsible King, by Kingmambo. Credit: Robyn Peters


Services: Sanctuary, Rehabilitation, Retraining/Adoption, Equine-Assisted Program

Location: Half Moon Bay, CA

Founded: 2004

Website: squarepegfoundation.org

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Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 15

Square Peg Foundation was established in 2004 as an adaptive riding program for people with learning and/or developmental disabilities such as autism, ADHD, and Tourette’s Syndrome.

The innovative organization, with two California facilities, in Montara and Sonoma, offers a creative, healing approach to learning and training horses based on mutual need, turning the therapeutic riding paradigm on its head – people don’t come to Square Peg because they are in need of therapy – people come to Square Peg because the horses need them.

Square Peg’s simple but powerful mission statement is: “We turn ‘I wish’ into ‘I can.’” People 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. The job training program at Square Peg gives dignified employment to those with significant barriers to finding and keeping a paying job.

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 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 person at a time.”

The 25 Square Peg horses, ranging in age from 5 to their 30s, found their way to the program in need of second – or third–chances. Most are Thoroughbreds. Among them are stakes-placed runners Momotombo and Southern Anthem; stakes winner Bruce’s Dream; 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 partners with San Mateo County Mental Health, the Kaiser Health Initiative the Polyvagal Equine Institute, and more to deliver world-class programs for learning and healing.

Square Peg Foundation Success Stories

Penman at Square Peg

Penman – Penman made only four starts before deciding that life on the racetrack wasn’t for him, and he’s now part of an equine-assisted program. Read more >>


fighting furrari as seabiscuit

Fighting Furrari – Better known as the horse used in the 2003 movie “Seabiscuit,” he retired from his duties as Santa Anita Park’s mascot and now lives at Square Peg. Read more >>


SquarePeg Uluckydevil

Uluckydevil – In his five career starts, all in Southern California, he never placed. But now he’s changing lives at TAA-accredited Square Peg Foundation. Read more >>