The Pegasus Story
Pegasus therapeutic riding started with only a couple of horses and four riders. We now have a stable of 11-14 therapy horses, over 170 volunteers, and over 210 active riders coming weekly to our facility, off of Cook Street in Palm Desert, California.
Pegasus was originally started in 1981. Lori Sarner, our President Emeritus, started volunteering at Pegasus in 1986. At that point, the program was struggling and was about to end their valuable service provided to the community. Because of Lori’s background in Equine Therapy, she “rescued” the program and helped fund and then grow the organization into what it is today. Lori spent the first 10 years from 1986 – 1996 perfecting the therapy program and educating the medical community on the merits of Equine Therapy. She grew the program slowly during that time before expanding the organization.
Lori had worked with an Equine Therapy group in England that met on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, whose major patroness was Princess Anne. Lori also worked with some of the Queen’s Horses. Her commitment, love and passion for special needs individuals and horses have helped Pegasus riders soar beyond limitations. In March of 2013 Lori Sarner was honored with special “Woman of the Year” honors by the Riverside County Commission for Women and the Board of Supervisors. See Article and other honors in the press about Lori and Pegasus in our archives. Lori mentored and groomed Chase Berke to eventually become the Lead Instructor and Program Director preparing for the day she would “pass the baton”. Chase is on the Board of Directors and Chief of Operations. Chase started volunteering at Pegasus in 1997 and has volunteered for more than 19 years working with Lori Sarner and her vision for Pegasus.
Our riders come from all three of the Coachella Valley’s Unified School Districts from classes with severely and multiply disabled, special needs kids. Pegasus provides the buses that transport these riders to the Riding Academy at no cost to the rider. Some of our other riders come from Angel View, the Palm Springs Stroke Recovery Center, Desert Arc, and the Braille Institute and some are referred from the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Autism Association, ACT for MS, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Loma Linda Hospital, private physicians and physical therapists.
Pegasus Therapeutic Riding — All Special Needs, All Ages — is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization based in Palm Desert, California. We do not receive Federal government funding…the only government funding we receive is via those Coachella Valley Cities that offer community grant programs. We are governed by a Board of Directors and supported by a diverse group of professionals that are dedicated to our mission. Your tax deductible contribution can help!
- To provide “At No Cost” full body (ROM) range of motion exercise on horseback to as many certified disabled children and adults as possible.
- To gently ease our riders into a program of physical exercise tailored to his or her needs.
- For the physically impaired, to help the development of beneficial muscles and joints.
- For the mentally disabled, to provide psychological and emotional benefits derived from riding a horse such as: learning to concentrate, the discipline of following directions and a sense of empowerment that comes from steering and controlling a large four legged animal, our sweet horses.
- For people who have difficulty bonding with others, to offer an opportunity to develop trust and confidence by bonding with a trained horse.
- To continue adopting horses and provide them with nurturing care and training. Welcome them all into the Pegasus Family and find loving, caring permanent homes for those who cannot be trained or do not have ability to physically carry the disabled.
- To look at the ability of a person rather than the disability.
- To believe that everyone is worthy.
- To know that MIRACLES DO HAPPEN
Pegasus Therapeutic Board of Directors
- Lori Sarner – President Emeritus
- Peter Solomon – Chairman
- Chase Berke – COO Operations, Program Director
- Curtiss Perry – Treasurer & Secretary
- Chase Berke
- Leanna Bonamici
- Penny Carpenter
- Chelsey Flohe, LCSW
- Catherine A. Eklund Mares
- Carl K. Osborne, Esq.
- Curtiss Perry
- Buck Pruett
- Heath Scarinci
- Kelly Scarinci
- Dick Shalhoob
- Enrique Solis
- Peter Solomon
- David B. Sullivan
- Timothy Vail, DEV.
- Chuck Hodges
High School Volunteer Program
Fr. Andrew Green
Church of St. Paul in the Desert
Co-Founder, ACT for MS
Anthony Cruz, D.O.
Board Certified Psychiatrist
Executive Director Habitat for Humanity
Staff & Counsultants
Executive Director, Consultant
Event Production & Digital Media Consultant
Volunteer Coordinator, Consultant
- Robin Montgomery
Volunteer Riding Instructors
- Chase Berke – Lead Instructor
- Darlene Bjork
- Judy Cordell
- Pete Peterson
- Kathleen Salcedo
- Kevin Marshall
- Chase Berke
- Pat Krause
- Judi Slapin
Pegasus Therapeutic Horses
Pegasus Therapeutic Horses are donated or rescued, they provide an important service to our special needs clients. Our Stable of horses carry on the age old tradition of serving mankind. The horses go through extensive and constant training to ensure they are qualified for the therapeutic program. All horses are evaluated before they are accepted into the program. Each week from October through May they carry riders through a series of exercises, routines and challenges designed to improve their well being and self esteem while having fun. This is no small order for a horse, but their sensitivity and extraordinary patience is evident when a rider is mounted on a horse. Not all of our horses are pictured, some are camera shy.
You can help Pegasus Therapeutic Riding
Make a Difference
Your donation helps us provide Equine Therapy to so many special needs children and adults. To make a tax deductible contribution to Pegasus Therapeutic Riding
or Mail To:
P.O. Box 13508
Palm Desert, CA 92255-3588
Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Stable Address
35-450 B Pegasus Court, Palm Desert, CA, 92211
A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit for All Special Needs, All Ages
Tax ID: 95-3774003
Ph: (760) 772-3057