T.H.E. Center, which is Therapy for Handi-Capable Equestrians, has been operating in Hemet for 25 years.
Teachers there give weekly riding lessons to disabled kids and adults, helping boost their self-confidence.
Typically, instructors are only worried about students getting the most out of their riding time. But last month, the center was dealt a cruel blow.
According to organizers at T.H.E. Center, a thief came in the middle of the night, pried the lock open on a storage shed, went inside, stacked up saddles and equipment, and then took off.
In all, about $5,000 of equipment was stolen.
“I’ve been on-staff since ’95 and we’ve never had anything like this happen,” instructor Sonya Haffner said. “We really felt violated.”
Haffner also says the saddles taken are used for its students at horse shows, competitions, and parades.
Despite the grief of the theft, word has spread about the crime and the center is already seeing donations from the community.
The Ricketts family from the High Desert stopped by to drop off a saddle.
“The lesson we learned is how generous the community is, even in hard times,” said Haffner. “We have people stopping by giving us $5 or $10…They’re giving what they can and we appreciate it.”
T.H.E. Center hopes to raise enough money by the end of the month to be able to participate in the California Network of Equestrian Therapy show coming up in May in Los Angeles.
If you would like more information on how to help T.H.E. Center, call 951-658-7790 or visit www.t-h-e-center.org/.